The Master Builder

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The Master Builder is the English title for Bygmester Solness by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)[1]

The original play

First performed on 19 January 1893 at the Lessing Theatre, Berlin and in English at the Trafalgar Theatre, London on the 20th February 1993. First published in Norwegian in December 1893.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English by William Archer in 1993.

Translated it into Afrikaans as Boumeester Solness by Con de Villiers in the 1930s.

Performance history in South Africa

1926: Performed in English as The Master Builder by the Unie-debatsvereniging in Stellenbosch on 12 August 1926, directed by Con de Villiers.

1935: Performed in Afrikaans as Boumeester Solness by Ons Teatertjie Toneelgroep, Pretoria, as their very first production in October 1935, directed by Leoni Pienaar.

1937: Performed in Afrikaans as Boumeester Solness in Stellenbosch. Starring Balthazar Johannes Vorster[2], later South African Prime Minister, in his only acting role.

1938: Performed in Afrikaans as Boumeester Solness by the Handhawers Toneelgeselskap in Bloemfontein.

1957: Performed in English as The Master Builder by NTO in 1957. Directed by Anna Neethling-Pohl. Solness was played by John Boyd-Brent; Janet Butler, Evadne Kohler-Baker, Susan Ridsdale, Leonard Graham, Pat Trevor, Simon Swindell completed the cast.

1962: Performed in English as The Master Builder in the Playhouse, Johannesburg, by Leon Gluckman and Colin Fish, starring Sir Donald Wolfit.


The Rand Daily Mail, 30 August 1935.

Lantern, 7(1), 1957.

Rinie Stead, 1938b

Review by Lewis Sowden (1962 production), The Rand Daily Mail, 3 January 1963.

Vorster - The Man, by John D'Oliveira, 1977.

Temple Hauptfleisch and Hilda van Lill, 2011.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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