Not to be confused with the 1952 Daphne du Maurier story or the famous Alfred Hitchcock film of 1963, based on the tale.
The original text
A comedy about the Athenian Pisthetaerus, who convinces the birds to create a great city in the sky and become gods once more.
Written and performed in 414BC.
Translations and adaptations
Numerous translations have been made of it over the years, inter alia English versions by Eugene O'Neill (Jr) and Gilbert Murray, as well as translations and adaptations in indigenous South African languages by various authors.
South African versions include:
Die Voëls ("The birds") by the classicist and translator J.P.J. van Rensburg is described as a "nabootsing van Aristophanes se anapeste" (i.e. an attempt to imitate Aristophanes's use of anapest metrical pattern) and was published in 1966 as "Aristophanes: Die Voëls, 685-722" in the centenary number of the Klassieke Nuusbrief, the newsletter of the Classical Association of the University of Stellenbosch.
A four page Afrikaans text by an unnamed author, simply titled Die Voëls and credited to Aristophanes, was found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022. In this case it indicates the names of performers who seem to have appeared in a production of it. No indication when or by whom. The names given are: Maretha Kritzinger, G. de Villiers, Sandra Floyd, J. Heyes, Marianne Kotze and V. Dark. The nature of the text seems to suggest it may have been written for performance by children or puppets.
Die Voëltjies ("The little birds") is a one-act play by Kobus Strydom, said to be based on The Birds by Aristophanes, trasported to a Souyth African setting with local names for the characters. A bound copy of the typed text (a handwritten note suggesting it belonged to a "Mr Hanekom" and that 5 copies were to be made) was found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022.
Die Hand Vol Vere (Afrikaans for "The Hand Full of Feathers") is an adaptation by André P. Brink(1971), a satire which comments on South Africans and the politics of the time (See Van Zyl Smit, 2005). The text was apparently not published.
Boklied (Afrikaans for "Goat Song") is a play by Breyten Breytenbach. As both Van Zyl-Smit (2005, p.273) and Conradie (1998, pp. 15-22) have pointed out, the second act of Breytenbach's complex and controversial play is a reworking of The Birds.
Performance history in South Africa
1966: Performed by the University of Natal, Department of Speech and Drama, directed by Pieter Scholtz using the D.Fitts and W. Arrowsmith translation.
1970: Die Hand Vol Vere, André P. Brink's Afrikaans adaptation was produced by the Youth Company of the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT) in 1970. A first version, directed by Carel Trichardt, was staged in Pretoria in December 1970; a revised version, directed by Francois Swart, was staged three months later in Johannesburg and then taken on tour.
1971: Die Hand Vol Vere, André P. Brink's Afrikaans adaptation was staged by PACT, directed by Francois Swart, with Will Bernard (Pistorius), David van der Merwe (Van der Merwe), Frantz Dobrowsky (Swartkraai), Nigel Vermaas (Hoepoe), Marie Koeleman (Nagtegaal), Sydney Rogers (Gerrebek), Janice Honeyman (Gaatjie), Jan Engelen (Staatsamptenaar), Stephan Bouwer (Wurm), Marietta Wessels (Boodskappie) and Joan Friedman (Darling). Designs by Patricia Slavin and choreography by Sandra Prinsloo.
1973: Performed in English by the University of Natal, Department of Speech and Drama, directed by Peter Larlham, using the D.Fitts and W. Arrowsmith translation.
1974: Izinyoni, the isiZulu adaptation by Themi Gwala was produced in 1974 at the Casa Cinema in Port Shepstone, Natal, in aid of the LEARN fund of the The Daily News. It was open to all race groups, even though theatres in South Africa were segregated till 1977.
1982: Performed by the University of Natal, Department of Speech and Drama, adapted and directed by Mervyn McMurtry.
2004-2005: Presented in the Gilbert Murray translation at the Dionysus Festival in the Kirstenbosh Amphitheatre, directed by Roy Sargeant starring Jeroen Kranenburg, Nhlanhla Mavundla, Jacques Theron, Johan Baird, Stian Bam, Luke Viviers, Ryan Coetsee, Wayne Hendricks, Riaan Visman, Ryan Di Domenico and Wiseman Sithole.
2011-2012: Presented in the Gilbert Murray translation by Siyasanga Cape Town Theatre Company and Artscape in the Kirstenbosh Amphitheatre 20 December 2011-15 January 2012. Directed by Roy Sargeant, design by Keith Anderson, original music by Michael Tuffin, choreography by Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. Production manager Alfred Rietmann, stage manager Jerome Chapman, masks made by Corrine Smit and Hansie Visagie. Cast: Jeroen Kranenburg, Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, Armand Aucamp. Members of The Chorus: Francis Chouler, Frans Hamman, Lee Roodt, Anele Situlweni, Michael Inglis, Riaan Visman, Melissa Haiden, Wiseman Sithole, Zonda Njokweni.
PACT theatre programme, 1971.
PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988.
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