Don Juan

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Don Juan is the name of a fictional character about whom many literary and other works have been created.

The character

The original creation

The character Don Juan was created by Spanish playwright, Tirso de Molina[1], in his 1630 play El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra ("The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest")[2], and the name of the character has since become common metaphor for concepts such as "libertine", "seducer" and "womaniser".

English titles for the De Molina play include The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest, The Seducer of Seville and the Stone Guest and The Playboy of Seville and the Stone Guest.

Various versions of the Don Juan myth

Besides Tirso de Molina's initial version, there have been numerous works written and produced about the character and tapping into the notion of the "Don Juan" in society.

Titles containing the name Don Juan

Below are some of the titles (with links) to a number of texts or adaptations bearing the title Don Juan, using Don Juan, or a person with Don Juan-like characteristics, as a character; which were produced in , or have links with, South Africa.

(For many other examples see for instance Armand E. Singer's excellent 1993 bibliography and Oscar Mandel's useful 1986 book, both listed under "Sources" below. See also the Wikipedia entry on Gluck's ballet[3]).

For more information on these plays, especially South African performances of the texts, go to the particular entry by clicking on the appropriate item.

Dom Juan, ou Le Festin de Pierre (Molière, 1665).

Don Juan, ou Le Festin de Pierre (Calzabigi and Gluck, 1761).

Don Giovanni[4] (Mozart and Da Ponte, 1787)

Don Juan, or The Libertine Destroyed (Delpini, 1790).

Little Don Giovanni, or Leporello and the Stone Statue (J.H. Byron, 1865)

Don Juan in Hell (George Bernard Shaw, 1907)

Een Don Juan tegen Wil en Dank (Anon., 1911)

Don Juan oder Die Liebe zur Geometrie (Max Frisch, 1953)

Don Juan onder die Boere (Bartho Smit, 1960)

Don Juan or 'The Nightmare of Venus' (Chris Pretorius)

Don Gxubane Onner die Boere (Charles Fourie)

Other titles, but also based on the Don Juan myth

The Libertine (Thomas Shadwell, 1676)

The Joker of Seville (Derek Walcott, 1974).


Armand E. Singer. 1993. The Don Juan Theme: An Annotated Bibliography of Versions, Analogues, Uses, and Adaptions. West Virginia University Press[5]

Oscar Mandel.1986.The Theatre of Don Juan: A Collection of Plays and Views, 1630-1963, published by the University of Nebraska Press[6]).

Go to the ESAT Bibliography

Plays entitled simply Don Juan

Don Juan the ballet

On various occasion ballet or ballet pantomime versions of the Don Juan story, bearing the simple title Don Juan, were done in South Africa in the 19th century. Those listed here were probably adapted versions of either Don Juan, ou Le Festin de Pierre (Gluck et al) or Don Juan, ou Le Festin de Pierre (Calzabigi and Gluck, 1761) or Don Juan, or The Libertine Destroyed (Delpini, 1790).

Specific performances in South Africa

1814: Performed in the African Theatre, Cape Town as a "grand ballet" (attributed to Thomas Shadwell) on 16 April by Mr Cuerton's company, in association with the Garrison Players, followed by a pantomime called Three Witches, or Harlequin Reanimated.

1814: Repeated by Mr Cuerton's company on 13 August with a Pantomime Farce featuring Mr Arnot as "Harlequin" and Mr Cuerton as "Clown".

1860: A performance of a pantomime of Don Juan formed part of the repertoire of the M'Collum's Circus, which played to acclaim in Cape Town for five months. Bosman (1980: pp.140, 510) specifically suggests this may be a version based on Shadwell's play The Libertine.)

1866: What was described as a "Magnificent Ballet". was performed in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town by the Le Roy-Duret company in 1866 on 20 September, with Jocrisse the Juggler (D'Ennery and Bresil).

Don Juan by Lord Byron

This was a satiric poem[7] by Lord Byron (1788-1824)[8], based on the legend of Don Juan, which Byron reverses, portraying Juan not as a womaniser but as someone easily seduced by women.

Translations and adaptations

Adapted for the stage in South Africa by Roberta Durrant

Performances in South Africa

1980: Performed as a play at the Market Theatre Upstairs in June, directed by Roberta Durrant, with Vanessa Cooke, Nigel Daly, David Eppel, Janice Honeyman and Terry Norton. Lighting designs were by John White-Spunner, choreography by Dinah Eppel, and stage management by Margaret Ramsay. Photographs by Ruphin Coudyzer.


Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Pat Schwartz, 1988: The Best of Company. The Story of Johannesburg's Market Theatre: p. 235

Don Juan by Max Frisch

This is the Afrikaans title used for Don Juan oder Die Liebe zur Geometrie, a German comedy in five acts by Max Frisch[9] (1911-1991).

Translated into Afrikaans as Don Juan by Nerina Ferreira in 1974 and performed in 1975 by CAPAB starring Jana Cilliers.

See Don Juan oder Die Liebe zur Geometrie for more details on the the original play, the translation and productions.

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