King Lear

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King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)[1].

The original text

The play was written between 1603 and 1606 and later revised. The earlier version, The True Chronicle of the History of the Life and Death of King Lear and His Three Daughters, was published in quarto in 1608, and The Tragedy of King Lear, a more theatrical version, was included in the 1623 First Folio. The first recorded performance appears to have been on 26 December 1606.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Afrikaans as Koning Lear by Uys Krige Published by HAUM, 1971.

Performance history in South Africa

1895-6: Performed at the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg, as part of a season of Shakespeare by the W.J. Holloway company, under the auspices of the Wheeler Theatre Company. Besides Holloway himself ( as "Lear"), the company included W. Haviland, Gerald Lawrence, Leonard Rayne, John Nesbitt, Amy Coleridge and Amy Grace. The company also played other cities, including the Opera House, Cape Town, for a season that opened in May 1896.

1936: Presented by the Little Theatre Players as the first Shakespeare to be done at the Little Theatre, directed by Cecil Tugman.

1954: Produced by Leon Gluckman at the Wits University Great Hall in 1954, directed by Elizabeth Sneddon with Gluckman as Lear.

1960: A production by Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival, 1960, with André Huguenet as Lear.

1962: Mavis Taylor directed a production by the Little Theatre Players in October.

1966: Maynardville: Presented by Cecilia Sonnenberg and René Ahrenson in January 1966, directed by British director Alexander Doré on his first visit to South Africa. The cast: Johann Nell as Lear, Roy Searl, Roger Spence, Michael Fisher, Robert Del Kyrke, Will Jamieson, Limpie Basson, Michael Newell, Robin Malan, Joey Wishnia, David Goatham, Ronald Fenton and others.

1969: PACT did a version with Joe Stewardson as Lear, directed by Robert Mohr at the Alexander Theatre. Also starring John Rogers (Edgar), Anthony James as the Fool, George Jackson, John Hayter, Kerry Jordan, Fiona Fraser, Molly Seftel, Judy Seligman, Hugh Rouse, Frank Douglass and others. Costumes designed by Aubrey Cauling, set designed by Raimond Schoop.

1971: A controversial production of Koning Lear, the Afrikaans version by Uys Krige, directed by Dieter Reible and featuring Cobus Rossouw as Lear) was done by CAPAB at the Nico Malan Theatre in Cape Town opening 28 May 1971 as the first production in the new theatre by the Afrikaans company. The rest of the cast were Siegfried Mynhardt, Pieter Joubert, Jannie Gildenhuys, Johan Malherbe, Katinka Heyns, Margot Luyt, Sandra Kotzé, David Haynes, Mees Xteen, Chris Swanepoel, Martin Crous, Paul Malherbe, Paul Slabolepszy, Price Coetzee, Johann Potgieter, Barry White, Graham Prosser. Costumes by Beatrice Maurer, decor by Pieter de Swardt.

1974: A CAPAB production of the play was performed for the opening of the 1820 Settlers Monument in Grahamstown under the direction of Roy Sargeant with Michael Atkinson in the title role on 8 July. This production opened in the Nico Malan Theatre on 18 July 1974.

1977 Roy Sargeant directed the play for CAPAB, with Michael Atkinson, **

1981: A production by PACT in the Staatsteater, Pretoria Anthony James.

1990: A production of Krige's Afrikaans text was done by PACT, directed by Francois Swart (assisted by Tjaart Potgieter), with Louis van Niekerk (Lear), Peter Se-Puma, Bill Curry, André Stolz, Tjaart Potgieter, Gys de Villiers, Johan Malherbe, André Odendaal, Kevin Smith, Leslie Fong, Dan Sebogodi, Pieter Brand, Antoinette Kellermann (Goneril), Hélène Truter (Regan), Natania van Heerden (Cordelia), Pierre Perold, Nomsa Nene, Nomsa Xaba. Design by Chris van den Berg, lighting design by Paul Pamboukian.

1998 A production by the Take Away Shakespeare Company, directed by James Whyle toured the country, also playing the Grahamstown Festival. The cast: Sean Taylor, Deon Stewardson, Jennifer Steyn, Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Stephen Jennings, David Butler, Helene Lombard, Greg Melvill-Smith, Antony Coleman and Shane Howarth. Percussion by Jahn Beukes.

2002: A production by the North West Arts Drama Youth Group, directed by Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom at the Grahamstown Festival, June/July 2002

2006: The Actor's Co-Operative in association with the Playhouse Company presented the play at the Playhouse Drama in Durban.

2012: Performed at the Intimate Theatre in Cape Town, directed by Guy de Lancey, starring Graham Weir in the title role, Jeroen Kranenburg, Adrian Collins, Nicholas Pauling, Adam Neill, Adrian Galley, Darren Arraujo, Pierre Malherbe, Shaun Acker, Matthew Alves, Kim Kerfoot, Nicholas Dallas, Juliana Venter, Emily Child, Deborah Vieyra, John Skotnes and Gerhard Rasch. Lighting Design by Guy de Lancey. Wardrobe by Leila Anderson and Alicia McCormick.


Wikipedia [2]

Inskip, 1972. pp.121, 149.

Theatre S.A., 1(4), 1969.

King Lear theatre programmes, 1966, 1974.

Koning Lear theatre programme May 1971.

Antoinette Kellerman's annotated copy of the typed text of Koning Lear for the 1990 PACT production, found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022.

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p. 404.

Review by Astrid Stark, Cape Times, 11 April 2012.

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