Charley's Aunt

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Charley's Aunt [1] is a farce in three acts written by English actor, playwright and song-writer Brandon Thomas (1856-1914)[2].


The original text

Opened at the Royalty Theatre, London, in 1892.

One of the most successful farces in theatrical history, it became as popular in South Africa as everywhere else.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Afrikaans as Piet s'n Tante by Gustav Preller in c. 1907. First published by Paarl drukpers, 1909.

Made into a commercially successful Afrikaans feature film Piet se Tante featuring Al Debbo and Frederick Burgers (1959).

Translated into Afrikaans as Charley se Tante by Robert Mohr in c. 1965.

Performance history in South Africa

1894(?): An early (possibly the first?) production in South Africa was by the Hawtrey Comedy Company under Ben and Frank Wheeler management in the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town.

1905: Performed early in the year at the Opera House, Cape Town, by Leonard Rayne's company, starring Joseph Ashman.

1907-10: The Preller Afrikaans translation Piet s'n Tante was first performed in Potchefstroom and Ermelo (1907), then at the Opera House, Pretoria, April, on 1908, by the Afrikaans-Hollandse Toneelvereniging to an invited audience including the colonial secretary, General J.C. Smuts. Backdrops painted by Frans Oerder. It was a firm favourite in the repertory of the AHTV until 1910, and became immensely popular on tour, including performances in Cape Town.

1950: Presented by the Brian Brooke Company at the Hofmeyr Theatre directed by British director Mary Byron with Brian Brooke as Lord Fancourt Babberley, Laurence Ayris as Jack Chesney and Nigel Hawthorne as Charley Wykeham. Settings by Frank and Doreen Graves, December 1950. Staged by African Theatres at His Majesty's Theatre with some cast changes and taken on tour, September 1951 in Rhodesia.

1952: Piet se Tante was presented by JAATS at the Library Theatre, directed by Jan Bruyns, starring Vivian Styger (Willem Moolman), Zanne Cloete, Billy Pretorius, Gys Steyn, Andries Strydom and Alvino Willemse.

1960: Done by Brian Brooke, with Stuart Brown and Lorna Cowell.

1965: The CAPAB production of the Mohr Afrikaans translation Charley se Tante opened at the Hofmeyr Theatre on 20 March, directed by Mohr. Decor and costumes by Pamela Lewis. The cast: Limpie Basson (Jack Chesney), Chris Fourie (Brassett), Ernst Eloff (Charles Wykeham), Jannie Gildenhuys (Lord Fancourt Babberley), Antoinette Terblanche (Kitty Verdun), Marie Pentz (Amy Spettigue), Pieter Bredenkamp (Colonel Sir Frances Chesney, Bart), Bertie van der Merwe (Stephen Spettigue), Tine Balder (Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez), Valerie Shwer (Ela Delahey). It was that year's most popular play with audiences, with 58 performances.

1973: In March it was presented by PACT in the Breytenbach Theatre and the Alexander Theatre, directed by Frank Shelley. The cast: John Boulter (Colonel Sir Frances Chesney, Bart), Norman Coombes(Stephen Spettigue), Richard Haines (Jack Chesney), Eckard Rabe (Charles Wykeham), James White (Lord Fancourt Babberley), Frank Shelley (Brassett), Shelagh Holliday (Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez), Gillian Garlick (Kitty Verdun), Caroline Cater (Amy Spettigue) and Eleanor Thomas (Ela Delahey). Decor and costumes by Chris van den Berg.

1978: The Mohr Afrikaans translation Charley se Tante was staged by PACOFS at the Observatory Theatre and directed by Marko van der Colff with Johan Malherbe, Pierre van Pletzen, Blaise Koch.

1983: The same PACOFS production of 1978 was staged in the Observatory Theatre.

1983: The Mohr Afrikaans translation Charley se Tante was staged by PACT, directed by Stephan Bouwer, featuring Louis van Niekerk (Kolonel Sir Frances Chesney, Bart), Jacques Loots (Stephen Spettigue), Schalk Schoombie (Jack Chesney), Johan Engelbrecht (Charles Wykeham), David van der Merwe (Lord Fancourt Bebberley), Nico Liebenberg (Brassett), Alida Theron (Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez), Rina Nienaber (Kity Verdun), Ilse Schmidt (Amy Spettigue) and Kelsey Middleton (Ela Delahey). Design by Andrew Botha and lighting by Michael Lovegrove.

1988: A Pieter Toerien production was directed by Rex Garner assisted by Tammy Bonell at the Theatre on the Bay, opening 15 December, starring Tobie Cronjé as Lord Fancourt Babberley, Errol Hart, George Korelin, Bruce Fields, Eleni Cousins, Carol Andrew, John Boulter, Timothy Welsh, Patricia Sanders, Cassandra Holliday. Lighting by Jannie Swanepoel, set designed by Kay Page, costumes co-ordinated by Alison Yates.

1995: Directed by Murray McGibbon, opening 9 December, Natal Playhouse Drama Theatre.

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Thomas

D.C. Boonzaier. 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [3]: pp. 402, 422

Brooke 1978. 197, 199.

Helikon, 1(4):93. 1952. (re JAATS production).

Grütter, Wilhelm, CAPAB 25 Years, 1987. Unpublished research. p 38.

Charley se Tante programme, 1965.

PACT theatre programmes, 1973, 1983.

Charley's Aunt programme, 1988.

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

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