Helena's Hope, Ltd

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Helena's Hope, Ltd is a 1910 play by Stephen Black (1880-1931) [1].

Also found as Helena's Hope

The original text

A hugely popular farce about the goldfields, which satirizes the individual capitalists, while employing a classical melodramatic plot. Set in 1908-1910, it was first performed in 1910 and was often repeated till the 1930s.

Published in a collection Stephen Black: Three Plays, edited by Stephen Gray (Ad Donker Publishers, 1984). A complete reading typescript copy is held in the Strange Collection at the Johannesburg Public Library.

Adaptations and translations

Performance history in South Africa

1910: First performed by the De Jong-Black Company in the Opera House, Cape Town, on 1 March, 1910, running for 22 nights. Stephen Black directed and made his first appearance as an actor for the company, taking the role of "Jeremiah Luke M'bene" (under the nom de theatre Edward Radlowe) while Constance Young appeared as "Kato van Knapp". The rest of the cast consisted of Charles Leonard (as Goldstein), W.F. White (as Jacob von Knaap), Louis du Cane (as Shearer), Herbert Ford (as Philip), Augustus Wheatman (as Hamish McGlugg), Maud Townsend (as Helena), Kate Walbran (as Mrs Goldstein) and Mabel Morton (as Grietje and later Helena). It thereafter went on a successful national tour, returning to Cape Town for another run in October. Other performers on tour over the years included Frikkie Page (as Hendrik), Dolly Sinclair (as Katoo), Nelisone and Cobie Court.

1911: Performed in Johannesburg (at His Majesty's Theatre) and Cape Town.

1912: Performed in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

1917: Performed in the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg, in February, (by the Leonard Rayne Company??), featuring Martha van Hulsteyn.

1928: Performed in Salisbury (now Harare), Pretoria, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.

1929: Performed in the Standard Theatre in Johannesburg, with Judy Grace (as Helena, replacing Cobie Court who had taken ill), Nelisone (as Grietje), Sidney Wheeler (as Goldstein), Dudley Williams (as Shearer), Eva Moss (replacing May Edouin, as Mrs Goldstein) and the author (as Jeremiah Luke M'bene).

1981: An adaptation by Stephen Gray was staged by the University of the Witwatersrand School of Dramatic Art at Theatre in Focus hosted by the University of Natal in Durban. The production opened on 29 June in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban, directed by Fred Hagemann (credited as Frederic Hagemann) with a cast of students from the University of the Witwatersrand School of Dramatic Art, including Marius de Vos (Hendrik), Kate Edwards (Katoo), Kathy Seddon (Helena), Barry French (Philip), Andrew Worsdale (Hamish), Matthew Krouse (Patricia), Stafford Camay (Grietje), Paul Abrams (Abraham Goldstein).


D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.432-434

University of Natal Theatre in Focus programme, 1981

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Stephen Gray (ed.) 1984. Stephen Black Three Plays. A.D. Donker.

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