Medved': Shutka v odnom deystvii

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Medved': Shutka v odnom deystvii ("The bear: a joke in one act", original Cyrillic: Медведь: Шутка в одном действии) is a one-act play by Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)[1].

The original text

A vaudeville style farce about the idea of the male being a 'bear' tamed by a woman, the play was inspired by the French two act comedy Les Jurons de Cadillac by Pierre Berton (1842-1912)[2], which had been published by Michel Lévy frères in 1874. Chekhov's piece was originally dedicated to the and director/actor Nikolai Nikolaevich Solovtsov, Chekhov's boyhood friend, who first played the character Smirnov when it was first performed in the Korsh Theatre in Moscow on October 28, 1888. The play was an instant success and a long term source of royalties for the playwright.

Translations and adaptations

Usually translated into English as The Bear (or The Boor), and at times subtitled "A Joke in One Act", the play had its English language premiere in London in 1911 and was first performed in New York in 1915.

Translated from the English into Afrikaans translation as Die Beer ("The bear"), by Johann van Heerden, for use of the students and staff of the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department (Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch) in the H.B. Thom Theatre. A copy of the text is held in the ESAT Archives.

NELM also has press clippings and other material of a production of Die Beer by the Grahamstown Amateur Dramatic Society, date not stated.

Another Afrikaans translation, now called Die Buffel (literally "The buffalo", but metaphorically "the boor or brute") was done by Alewyn Lee and published by Tafelberg, 1980, in the collection Die Buffel en ander eenakters and in 1992 in the collection Skouspel (also by Tafelberg).

Performance history in South Africa

1945: Produced for the Krugersdorp Municipal Dramatic and Operatic Society by Anna Neethling-Pohl as their entry in the 1945 FATSSA Play Festival, featuring Frieda Mardegant. A second society, the Natal Society Play Reading Group, also produced the play at this festival.

1970: Performed by students of the Stellenbosch University Drama Department in 1970 under direction of Jan Engelen starring Johann van Heerden, Sharon Montgomery and Theuns Meyer.

1974: Performed in English in the lunch-hour slot at The Space (Cape Town). Bill Tanner was the director and the stage manager was Andrea Fine. The cast consisted of Limpie Basson, Yvonne Bryceland and Keith Grenville.

1975: Die Beer performed in Afrikaans by students of the Drama Department directed by Ria Olivier, starring Johan Fourie, Anna-Marie Engelbrecht, Carina Steyn, Herman Pretorius, and Christine Monaco in October.

1978: The Bear was presented by the Rhodes University Drama Department, directed by Claerwen Howie in a double bill with Something Unspoken.

198?: The Bear by Anton Chekov and directed by Konstantin Zakarchenko with Chris Truter, Christa de Jager en Konstantin Zakarchenko at Harrington street 105.

198*: Staged in Afrikaans as Die Beer by Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch in the H.B. Thom Theatre, directed by Johann van Heerden (?), with (actress?***), Anton Smith and Neels Engelbrecht.

2013: Performed in English, in tandem with The Proposal, from 22 to 26 August, 1 to 12 September at the Intimate Theatre, Cape Town, by The Mechanicals, as part of their Chekhov Season, which also included The Cherry Orchard (6 to 17 August and 27 to 31 August).


Jan B. Vermaak (compiler), 1992. Skouspel. Cape Town: Tafelberg.

Bosman, 1928: pp

Trek, 10(8):23, 1945.

Astbury, 1979.

Burger, 198?

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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