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Everyman (English) (or Elckerlijc in Dutch) is a morality play by an unknown playwright.

The original text(s)

Though orignally apparently named The Somonyng of Everyman in Middle English, and ''Den Spyeghel der Salicheyt van Elckerlijc (or in full: Den Spyeghel der Salicheyt van Elckerlijc - Hoe dat elckerlijc mensche wert ghedaecht Gode rekeninghe te doen) in Flemish, the play is more generally referred to as simply as Everyman (English), Elckerlijc in Flemish or Dutch, Jedermann in German, and Elkeman in Afrikaans.

The spelling of the Dutch play's shorter title actually varies substantially, including Elckerlijk, Elkerlijk, Elckerlyc.

Not to be confused with the 1975 Dutch film Elckerlyc directed by Jos Stelling.

The play, by whatever title, is possibly the most famous example of a morality play from the late 15th century, telling of how God summons Everyman by ordering Death to take him for his own. Everyman pleads delay and then seeks around for anyone who may bear him company. First he turns to Fellowship, later to Knowledge, Beauty, Strength, and so on.

Though The Somonyng of Everyman ("The Summoning of Everyman") is often considered an original English morality play, there is a strong argument for Flemish work Den Spyeghel der Salicheyt van Elckerlijc being the original text, though many other sources are also mentioned by various authors. (See for example the overview of the text's history by Clifford Davidson, Martin W. Walsh and Ton J. Broos, 2007).

One such suggestion is that of the play is a version of a Latin play called Quilibet by Petrus Dorlandus (also known as Petrus Diesthemius or Peter van Diest). (The latter suggestion from J.W. van Bart in his introduction to his edition of Gennep’s Een comedia ofte spel van Homulus).

Notable productions of the Dutch text were mount­ed well in­to the modern age, especially one by Johan de Meester in 1907 and another performed at the Holland Festival be­tween 1950 and 1971.

Translations and adaptations

Homulus (1536), translation in Latin by Christianus Ischyrius (i.e. Christiaen Stercks), rector of the Maastricht Latin School,

Hecastus (1536), adaptation in Latin by Georgius Macropedius (also known as Joris van Lanckvelt).

Jedermann (1911) German adaptation by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. (In fact, generally found in German translation as Jedermann.).

Everyman (1901), a modern play based on the medieval morality play, was written by Charles Frohman and directed by Ben Greet and was first performed in 1901 in Britain, opening on Broadway in 1902. (See "Everyman (modern play)" in Wikipedia[1].)

The Summoning of Everyman: A Modern Version of the Mediaeval Morality Play by Herbert W. Payne. Samuel French, 1947

Elckerlijc (or Den Spieghel der Salicheit van Elckerlijc) was published as part of a series of Medieval Dutch texts for South African students in 1987. It includes an Afrikaans version of the text entitled Elkeman.

Everyman: A Morality Play (1950) is a South African English text written by Guy Butler and described in the subtitle as "A Modernised Version of the Medieval Interlude of the Same Name". (The unpublished manuscript is held in the NELM archives.)

Iedereen (1950s?) is a modernised Afrikaans adaptation by Dr W.H. Vos of Payne's 1947 English text, for the Piketberg Bybelspelvereniging ("Piketberg bible play society").

Elkeman is an Afrikaans verse translation by Tom Weber

Crossroads is an improvised and adapted performance text by Theatre Workshop '71 of Everyman.

Mirakel (1992), an original Afrikaans play by Reza de Wet, uses an attempt by a touring company of actors to perform an Afrikaans version of Everyman (referred to as Elkeman) in a rural South African town in 1936, using this as the framing event for the contemporary intrigue. First performed in Afrikaans in 1992 and published in 1993, then translated into English as Miracle in 2000.

Performance history in South Africa

1927: Performed in Dutch as Elckerlijc in the open air, on the grounds of St Cyprian School in Cape Town on Saturday 9 April by the visiting Dutch company of Anton Verheyen, Louis de Vriendt, Mignon Sorel and others. A choir was directed by Sarah Goldblatt was also incorporated.

1927: This same production was performed in the Recreation Hall in Stellenbosch on 12 April. Due to bad weather the planned open-air performance was not possible.

Pre-1931: Everyman produced in English by professor William H. Bell with Minna Freund as his first production at the Stal Plein Hotel. (This activity which would lead to the founding of the Department of Speech and Drama in 19**.)

1963: Everyman adapted and produced in English for the Rhodes University Players by Guy Butler, in collaboration with the Rhodes University Chamber Choir, directed by Georg Gruber, September 1963. (NELM AN: MANU-36130).

198*: Everyman performed in English by PACT with Pamela Gien, Madeleine Bertine Rose,

1992: Reza de Wet's play Mirakel, containing an section of Elkeman, performed in Afrikaans at the Grahamstown Festival.


See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elckerlijc


Clifford Davidson, Martin W. Walsh and Ton J. Broos. 2007. Introduction to Everyman and Its Dutch Original, Elckerlijc. University of Rochester, Robbins Library Digital Project - TEAMS Middle English Texts Series [2]

Paul R. Sellin. 1974. "The Hidden God: Reformation Awe in Renaissance English Literature", In: Robert S. Kinsman. The Darker Vision of the Renaissance: Beyond the Fields of Reason. University of California Press: p.147[3]


World Drama, Allardyce Nicoll, 1949. p 164.

H.J. Schutte and G.J. De Klerk. 1987. Den Spieghel der Salicheit van Elckerlijc. Pretoria: HAUM-Literêr Uitgewers.


Photocopy of the typed script of Elkeman by Tom Weber, found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022.

Die Burger 8 April 1927.

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