Heathcliff and the Dancing Bear

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Heathcliff and the Dancing Bear is an English play by Reza de Wet (1952-2012).

The original text

Written while she was still a student, this is believed to be the earliest play written by De Wet, and explores various stages of entrapment enslavement and exploitation, using as premise the life of Emily Brontë's brooding hero before he arrived at Wuthering Heights. Unpublished and unproduced for many years, the text was lost for a number of years, till an incomplete copy was unearthed by De Wet in 1996 at the behest of director Shirley Johnston, who used some scenes for a production called Drifte, done with senior students in Stellenbosch in that year.

Finally produced in a musical version under the title Heathcliff Goes Home, as De Wet's final directorial production as a staff member at Rhodes University in 2007. In the programme notes to the production De Wet says: the play "is an examination of different states of entrapment, enslavement and exploitation, and the yearning for release and self realisation" (Rhodes Drama Review 2007[1]) Using as premise the life of Emily Brontë's brooding hero before he arrived at Wuthering Heights, the production took as frame a group of travelling entertainers, in a celebration inspired by Shakespeare's comedies.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1996: Scenes from the play were performed by seven final year University of Stellenbosch drama students in the Kellerteater at the University, directed by lecturer Shirley Johnston, with a cast including Paul du Toit, Angerie van Wyk, Martelize Kolver, Leanna Dreyer, Nicole Holm , Amelda Brand and Nico Dreyer. Set design and lighting by Kobus Rossouw. In a rare exchange, the production was also performed for and debated by the UCT drama staff and students, in the Drama Department of the University of Cape Town.

2007: Performed in an adapted version as a musical under the title Heathcliff Goes Home by students of the Rhodes University Drama Department, Grahamstown, directed by Reza de Wet.




Shirley Johnston. 2018. "Drifte - Discovering the Secrets of Reza de Wet’s Heart". Draft article, courtesy of the author.

Rhodes Drama Review 2007[2]

Danie Stander. 2017. "Reza de Wet – Haar Lewe en Werke", In: Programme for KKNK Festival, 2017[3]

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page