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Karnaval is the Afrikaans term for the English term carnival. It is also the name of a South African play by Pieter-Dirk Uys (1945-) (see below),

Besides Uys's play, there have been a number of other literary and musical works using (part of) the title for poetry (e.g. "Die Karnaval" by I.D. du Plessis, 19**, "Die karnaval van vreugde" by Gert Strydom (2010), and a collection of Afrikaans poetry, Karnaval en Lent by T.T. Cloete, 2014) and songs (e.g. Karnaval in Bloemfontein by Carike Kreuzenkamp). Ogden Nash's humorous text (1949) for The Carnival of the Animals[1] (Saint-Saëns, 1886), has also been translated into Afrikaans by Philip De Vos as Karnaval van die Diere (published with illustrations by Piet Grobler in 1998)

The Afrikaans term karnaval

For more on the concept, nature and history of the karnaval as a theatrical form (as well as the notion of the carnivalesque and the general occurrence of karnavals and carnivals in South Africa), go to the entry on Carnival.

Karnaval, a play by Pieter-Dirk Uys (1975)

The original text of the play

Uys's play about life in a brothel on Long Street, is based on the playwright’s observations of an apartment block opposite his own apartment. It was originally performed in 1975 but then banned after 11 performances. The text was first published by Ad Donker in 1982.

Performance history in South Africa

1975: First produced on 12 July 1975 at the Outer Space with Trix Pienaar, Cornelia Stander, Vincent Ebrahim, Christine Basson, Grethe Fox, Margot Luyt, Pieter-Dirk Uys, directed and designed by Pieter-Dirk Uys. Lighting by Brian Astbury and the stage management by Richard Morrison and Blaise Koch. Closed after 11 performances by the censors. The play remained banned for five years.

Performed numerous times afterwards, including

circa 1980: A production by the Akademiespelers directed by Elza Esterhuizen;

1981: At the Market Theatre (1981), with Magda Beukes (Rita), Dale Cutts (Boytjie), Kevin Smith (Javanese Jumping Jack), Lynette Luyt (Andrea), Joey de Koker (Auntie Dora), Margi Lewis (Letitia), Lida Botha (Phyllis), directed by Dawie Malan;

199*: Baxter Theatre, (directed by Mark Graham); presented by the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department in 1994 directed by Mark Graham;

1995: Staged, together with God's Forgotten and Paradise is Closing Down ("Cape Town Trilogy"), in July 1995 by the newly formed A Company of Actors in the Dock Road Theatre and in August 1995 in the Youth Theatre at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre, directed by Mark Graham, with Trix Pienaar (Dora), Theresa van As ((Phyllis), Lynne Maree (Rita), Gretha Brazelle (Letitia), Lynita Crofford (Andrea), Jonathan Pienaar (Boytjie) and Shaun Arnolds (Javanese Jumping Jack). Designer Maciek Miscewski.

1999: The Playhouse in Somerset West , directed by Molly Mohr with Merlin Balie and Elana Afrika.

2008: the Perron Drama Project in Darling (directed by Pieter-Dirk Uys, 2008/9?).

Translations and adaptations


Brian Astbury 1979. The Space/Die Ruimte/Indawo. Cape Town: Moira and Azriel Fine.

Karnaval theatre programme (Akademiespelers).

Cape Argus 9 June 1995.

Correspondence, 17 October 1975 to 16 June 1978, with Pieter-Dirk Uys related to the banning of his play Karnaval, including the Directorate of Publications' response to a request for further particulars, the resubmission of the play for reconsideration, and the ruling that it is undesirable and is prohibited in toto. (NELM - Collection: MANIM, Mannie: 2010. 38. 9. 2. 122. 1).

Percy Tucker 1997. Just the Ticket. My 50 Years in Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, page 400.


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