Enrico IV

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Enrico IV ("Henry IV") is a tragedy in three acts by Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)[1]

The original text

An expressionist work providing a stark and moving study of madness and the solitude of self-imprisonment, a study on madness with comic and tragic sides. In the play the main character is a man who believes himself to be Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and all about him conspire to maintain the fiction.

Written in 1921, it premiered on 24 February 1922 in the Teatro Manzoni in Milan. Published in Italian in 1922.

Translations and adaptations

The play has been translated into English by numerous authors over the past decades, among them:

Translated as Henri IV by Edwards Storer, 1923.

Translated and adapted as Emperor Henry by Eric Bentley, first published in 1952. His translation later also published as The Emperor (1964)

Translated as Henry IV by Frederick May, 1962

Translated as Henri IV by Julian Mitchell, 1979

Translated as Henry IV by Robert Rietty and John Wardle, 1987

Translated as Henry IV by Tom Stoppard, and first performed in 2004.

Translated and slightly adapted into Afrikaans, under the title of Die Keiser, from the original Italian, by Johann van Heerden, after a period of study and research in Italy during 1975. First performed in Stellenbosch in 1983, the text performed but not published. (A copy held in the Drama Department archive at Stellenbosch University)

Performance history in South Africa

1935: Presented by the University of Cape Town's Speech and Drama Department at the Little Theatre in September, directed by Ruth Peffers, starring the impressive newcomer Wensley Pithey. The production was a significant milestone in that theatre's development. No name is given for translator but it was most likely the Storer version.

1969: Produced as The Emperor by NAPAC, opening 24 February 1969 in St John's Theatre, Durban. Directed by Frank Shelley, decor by Bill Smuts, costumes by Lucille Cross. With Michael Atkinson, Joan Gibson, Frank Shelley, Phillip Boucher, Don McCorkindale and others.

1970: Directed as The Emperor by Frank Shelley for PACOFS in 1970, starring Michael Atkinson, Paddy Canavan, Ralph Lawson Johan Malherbe, Roger Dwyer, John Ramsbottom, Will Bernard, Hudson Earp, Frank Shelley, Pieter Geldenhuys and Judy Murton. Settings by Bill Smuts and costumes by Lucille Cross.

1970: Presented as The Emperor by CAPAB in association with PACOFS and NAPAC in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, with Roger Dwyer, Michael Atkinson, Will Bernard, John Ramsbottom and Johan Malherbe.

1983: Performed in Afrikaans as Die Keiser by the Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch in the H.B. Thom Theatre 25 May to 1 July. Directed by Johann van Heerden, with Chris Truter (Hendrik IV), Belinda Richardson (Markiesin Matilda Spina), Nicola van der Walt (Frida), André Schwartz (Markies di Nolli), Albert Maritz (Dr Genoni), Neels Engelbrecht (Baron Tito Belcredi), Isadora Verwey (Lola), Libé Ferreira (Franca), Trudi Huskisson (Mimi), Cecile de Jager (Fina), Antoinette Pienaar (Fina), Lloyd Davies (Giovanni), Christo Crous (lakei), Freddie Aylward (lakei). Decor designed by Marjorie van Heerden, costumes designed by Elaine Aucamp.




Luigi Pirandello. 1991. Pirandello's Major Plays (translated by Eric Bentley). Northwestern University Press.

Susan Bassnett and Jennifer Lorch (eds). 1993. Luigi Pirandello in the Theatre: A Documentary Record. Psychology Press:pp.184-6.

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988

PACOFS theatre programme, 1970.

Teater SA, April 1969

Photograph - NELM Manuscripts - [Collection: FLETCHER, Jill]: 2005. 75. 19. 50.

Inskip, 1972. p.120.

CAPAB List of Plays Presented, 1971.

UTS Theatre Programme of Die Keiser, 25 May to 1 July 1983.

Curriculum Vitae of Johann van Heerden (2011)

Correspondence with Johann van Heerden (11 Feb 2012)

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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