Die Physiker a satiric drama by Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Informed by the Second World War and the many recent advances in science and nuclear technology, the play deals with questions of scientific ethics and humanity's ability to handle its intellectual responsibilities. It is a comedy thriller and considered to be "parable" of the time, referred to as comedie-noire. The play examines the moral position of the scientist in a "world shadowed by a mushroom cloud".
The original text
Published by Arche, 1962.
Translations and adaptations
Translated from the German into English by James Kirkup titled The Physicists. Published by Grove Press, 1964. The English translation, by , first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre in 1963.
Performance history in South Africa
1963: The Physicists produced in South Africa in September 1963 by the Langford-Inglis Company in conjunction with the Alexander Theatre. Directed by Robert Langford (Herbert Georg Beutler (Newton) patient) and Margaret Inglis (Fraulein Doktor Mathilde von Zahnd, Alienist) who also played the leads, with Angela Davidson (A Dead Nurse), Helen Braithwaite (Marta Boll, Head Nurse), Frank Douglass (Richard Voss, Inspector of Police), Bryan Bales (Police Doctor and Oskar Rose, Missionary), Hugh Fowler (Guhl, Policeman and Adolf-Friederich, Missionaries' son), Karl Winter (Blocher, Policeman), Leslie Zulberg (Policeman), George Lane (Ernst Heinrich Ernesti (Einstein), patient), Bess Finney (Frau Lina Rose, Missionary's Wife), Don Clifford (Wilfred-Kaspar, Missionaries' son), Allan Zulberg (Jorg-Lukas, Missionaries' son), Gabriel Bayman (Johann Wilhelm Mobius, patient), Mary Miller (Monika Stettler, Nurse), Gilbert Xaba (McArthur, Chief Male Attendant), Billy Rutherford (Uwe Sievers, Male Attendant), Maurice Cinamon (Murillo, Male Attendant). Sets by Roy Cooke, House manager Michael Coulson, Stage manager Karl Winter, Assistant stage managers Angela Davidson and Hugh Fowler.
1964: Produced by CAPAB, opening at the Hofmeyr Theatre on 10 February and in Port Elizabeth on 10 March 1964 directed by Robert Mohr. The cast : Noelle Sheridan (The late Nurse Irene Straub), Ernest Bowman (Blocher), Garth Scott (Guhl), Bryan Bales (Police Doctor and Missionar Oskar Rose), Geoffrey Morris (Inspector Richard Voss), Liz Staughton (Head Nurse Marta Boll), Harold Lake (Herbert Georg Beutler, known as Sir Isaac Newton), Paddy Canavan (Doktor Mathilde von Zahnd), Alec Bell (Ernst Heinrich Ernesti known as Albert Einstein), Yvonne Bryceland (Frau Lina Rose), Robert Haigh (Adolf-Friedrich), David Cameron (Wilfred-Kaspar), Frederick Enslin (Jörg-Lukas), Pietro Nolte (Johann Wilhelm Möbius), Ziona Garfield (Nurse Monika Stettler), Frank Wise (Uwe Sievers), Ray Morris (McArthur), Max Potash (Murillo). Set designed by Bill Smuts, wardrobe Ena Theron, stage manager Noelle Scott.
1980: Die Fisici was presented by KRUIK Toneel opening 12 March 1980 at the Nico Malan Theatre. Directed by Robert Mohr, design by Penny Simpson, lighting by Leon Benzakein. The cast: Johan Malherbe, Grethe Fox, Paul Slabolepszy, Marga van Rooy, Neels Coetzee, Charmaine Potgieter, Christo Potgieter, Neville Thomas, David van der Merwe and Brümilda van Rensburg.
Programme Alexander Theatre. No 166 September, 1963.
Die Burger 24 January 1964; The Physicists theatre programme 1964.
Bosman, 1928: pp
Return to P in Plays II Foreign Plays
Return to South_African_Theatre/Plays
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page