Der Prozess

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Der Prozess ("The Trial") is a German novel by Franz Kafka (1883-1924) [1].

The title also found as Der Proceß, Der Prozeß and Der Prozess and later Der Process.

The novel

The novel, written between 1914 and 1915, was first published in 1925, and is one of Kafka's best-known works. It tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader.[2].

In the programme for Fred Engelen's 1960 South African production of the English stage adaptation, the theme is described as follows: "In this existential play Joseph K. seeks in vain the answer to questions concerning his victimization, persecution , imprisonment and final death. It is a grim caricature of the nameless, formless, inchoate march of modern society towards the suppression or abolition of the individual." (Little Theatre programme, August 1960).

Translations and adaptations

The novel has been translated into many languages and has been adapted for the radio, stage and film numerous times.

Prominent among the stage adaptations has been the 1947 French version by Jean-Louis Barrault [3] and Andre Gide [4]. This version was translated into English by Joseph and Leon Katz [5]

A South African adaptation was Kafka: The Trial, done by director Ken Leach, based on the original Kafka novel as well as the 1947 French play.

Other dramatised versions include Der Prozeß (1953), an opera by Gottfried von Einem, Le procès (1962), a film by Orson Welles[6], The Trial adapted for the stage by Steven Berkoff (first performed in 1970 in London, published in 1981) and The Trial (1962), (1993), a film by David Hugh Jones[7] and another operatic adaptation by the composer Philip Glass (premiered by Music Theatre Wales in October 2014).

Performance history in South Africa

1960: The Trial opened in the Little Theatre at the University of Cape Town on 22 August, directed by Fred Engelen The cast included Icky Kurgan (Joseph K.), Ronald Barnett (Franz), Hildegard Zimmermann (Fräulein Bürstner) and others. Sets by Bill Smuts and costumes by Mavis Taylor.

1973: Performed in June by The Company in Rondebosch, Cape Town, featuring Terry Osler, Suzanne Goldberg, Charles Whaley and Aden Love.

19**: Kafka: The Trial, the adaptation by Ken Leach, was staged by the Arena Theatre Company, directed by Leach, with Norman Coombes as Joseph K. The rest of the cast: Denis Bettesworth, Jud Cornell, Frantz Dobrowsky, David Eppel, Janice Honeyman, Michael Irwin, Danny Keogh, Sue Kiel, Lynette Marais and Lindsay Reardon.


Little Theatre programme, August 1960.

Arena Theatre Company programme (undated).

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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