The original text
A two-hander about the trials and tribulations, laughters and sorrows, and hopes and disappointments experienced by Agnes and Michael throughout their marriage of thirty-five years, from 1890 to 1925. Written in Dutch in 1942, while De Hartog was in hiding during the war. During his subsequent war-time exile in England, he sold the rights of the English version of his own English translation as The Fourposter to Samuel French. There is mention of a London production of the play in 1949, but it is usually claimed that the real premiere of the play was 1951 Broadway production, directed by José Ferrer, which opened on October 24, 1951, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, later moving to the John Golden Theatre to complete its 632-performance run.
In later years the play was also performed in the Netherlands and the text published in Dutch in 1974.
Translations and adaptations
Other adaptations include The Four Poster (a 1952 partially animated 1952 film starring Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer), an Australian TV adaptation (1964) and the musical I Do! I Do! by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt (1966).
Performance history in South Africa
1954: The Fourposter was presented by the Brian Brooke Company starring English actors Michael and Dulcie Dennison. Set by Frank Graves. Toured to Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, East London, King Williams Town, Durban’s Little Theatre, Christmas season 1954.
1963: The Le Roux translation was presented as Die Hemelbed by Kaapse Streektoneel on tour to Clanwilliam, Van Rhynsdorp, Nieuwoudtville, Williston, Fraserburg and Calvinia starring Tine Balder and Pieter Geldenhuys, directed by Paul Malherbe. This production was also presented by SUKOVS in the same year.
1964: The Le Roux translation, Die Dubbelbed was presented by PACT in the Intimate Theatre, Johannesburg, the National Theatre, Pretoria and toured the Transvaal. Pieter Geldenhuys directed and acted with Joan Brink. Decor by Raimond Schoop and costumes by Margaret Louttit.
Brooke 1978. 250.
Kaapse Streektoneel programme, 1963.
PACT report, 1963/64.
PACOFS theatre programme 1973.
PACT theatre programme 1974.
NAPAC theatre programme (undated).
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