Richard III

(Redirected from King Richard the III)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Richard III is a tragedy by William Shakespeare (1564?-1616)[1].

As with most of Shakespeare's plays, there are multiple names for the works, from full titles with subtitles, to shortened titles like this one. In this case the play is often listed as The Tragedy of Richard III, Richard the Third, or The Battle of Bosworth Field, King Richard the Third, Richard the Third, or other combinations thereof. But Richard III is perhaps most commonly used title for the play.

The play and its history

Believed to have been written in approximately 1592, since the Diary of Philip Henslowe records a popular play he calls Buckingham, performed in December 1593 and January 1594, which might have been Shakespeare's play. However, the earliest certain performance occurred on 16 or 17 November 1633, when Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria watched it on the Queen's birthday. The first quarto (under the title The Tragedy of Richard the Third) is dated 1597.

The role has been a favourite of actors throughout the ages.

Notable for South African theatre was the performance by Antony Sher at Stratford in 1985, where he played it on crutches. He wrote his famous diary about his preparation for the role, published as The Year of the King.

Translations and adaptations

International versions

Colley Cibber produced the most successful of the Restoration adaptations of Shakespeare with his version, also entitled Richard III, at Drury Lane starting 1699, when it was initially beanned. He published his text and the story of its initial censorship in 1700, and began to perform it again, playing the lead role himself, and continuing to do so till 1739. His version was on stage for the next century and a half.

South African translations and adaptations

According to Bosman (1928, pp. 144) what appears to be an abbreviated version of the text was performed as King Richard the Third in Cape Town in 1813. No author given, but it was most probably the Cibber version.

According to Bosman (1928, pp. 396) a "Serio-Comic Burlesque" of the Tent Scene in Richard the Third" was performed by the Garrison Players in Cape Town in 1847. Author unknown.

According to Bosman (1980, p. 299) a "plantation burlesque" called King Richard the III was performed by the Garrison Players in Grahamstown in 1868/9(?)

Translated into Afrikaans by André P. Brink, published by Human and Rousseau, 1969.

An adaptation of the play called Hellhound, written by James Whyle, was staged in the Laager Theatre, 25 May - June 1992 directed by Neil McCarthy, starring Michelle Botes, Dan Robbertse, Owen de Jager, Robin Smith, and Gideon de Wet. Michael Maxwell was the lightining designer, Anton Burggraaf the set/costume designer.

South African productions

1813: An abbreviated version of the text was performed as King Richard the Third in the African Theatre, Cape Town on 14 August by the Garrison Players.

1831: Performed in Cape Town by All the World's a Stage in the Cape Town Theatre on 23 June , with The Children in the Wood (Morton). (Wrongly listed by Bosman (1928) as The Children of the Wood)

1831: Performed in Cape Town by All the World's a Stage in the Cape Town Theatre on 23 July, with The Irishman in London (Macready).

1833: Performed as Richard the Third in Cape Town by All the World's a Stage in the Cape Town Theatre on 19 January, with Fortune's Frolic (Allingham).

1847: "A Serio-Comic Burlesque on the Tent Scene from Richard III" performed for the benefit of the Regimental School on 7 July by the 90th Light Infantry in the Amateur Theatre, Cape Town, with No. 23, John-Street, Adelphi (Buckstone) and The Wreck Ashore (Buckstone)

1849 (or possibly 1850): James Lycett and his company did an acclaimed production of the full play as Richard the Third, or The Battle of Bosworth Field in Cape Town, as the opening performance of the new theatre in Haupt's wine store at 21 Hope Street. James Lycett appeared as "Richard". The rest of his company was made up of what Laidler (1926) called "capable amateurs", including Mr Shaw, Mr Brannigan, Mr Bevern, R. Divine, A. Barker, Mr Kirton. The female characters were played by women, apart from the Duchess of York, who was portrayed by a Mr Charles Spolander. The women were Miss Blakemore and Mrs Burdett.

1858: Listed by Groom (1899-1900, p. 550) among the Shakespearian plays said to have been performed by Sefton Parry and his company as part of his two seasons of in the Cape Town Theatre.

1860: Performed as Richard the Third, or The Battle of Bosworth Field by Sefton Parry and his company as part of his new season in the Cape Town Theatre on 9 and 10 April, accompanied by a dance by Lizzie Powell. Sets and scene painting by Thomas Baines. The production appears to have been a heavily cut version of the text, and the performances were heavily criticised in the Cape Town press (e.g. the Cape Argus of 12 April, 1860 and the Cape Monitor of 18 April, 1860), setting off a small torrent of controversy between Parry and the press for a while.

1862: During March a "Shakespearian Reading" (or possibly two) of material taken from the play was presented by T. Brazier in the Cape Town City Hall for the Mechanics' Institute.

1868/9(?): A performance of a piece called King Richard the III (billed as a "plantation burlesque") was performed by the amateurs of the 32nd Light Infantry in Grahamstown, accompanied by a "plantation dance"[2].

1875: Act 5 of Richard III was performed in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town by Disney Roebuck and his company on 5 June, with Don Caesar de Bazan (Pinel and D'Ennery/Webster and Boucicault).

1876: Performed as Richard III in the Theatre Royal, Burg Street, Cape Town by Disney Roebuck and his company on 15 and 18 May, 13 June (with a ballet), 27 June and 20 July.

1878: Performed as Richard III in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, by Disney Roebuck and his company on 15 June.

1895-6: Performed by the Holloway Theatre Company, under the auspices of the Wheeler Theatre Company theatre company as part of a season of plays which opened in the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg on the 26th December with Othello. The company was composed of William J. Holloway, Leonard Rayne, Gerald Lawrence, Amy Grace, John Nesbitt, William Haviland and Amy Coleridge. The company also played other cities, including the Opera House, Cape Town, for a season that opened in May 1896.

1967: Performed on 7-10 June in the Bloemfontein Civic Theatre by students of the newly established University of the Orange Free State Drama Department, in association with the Bloemfontein Shakespeare Circle, directed by Jo Gevers, with Jo Gevers, Annatjie Vorster, Marlene Kotzen. Other cast members included Temple Hauptfleisch and Clive Kaplan.

1968/9: Robert Mohr directed André P. Brink's translation into Afrikaans for CAPAB, with Cobus Rossouw as Richard. The rest of the cast were, among others, André Rossouw, Don Clifford, Johan Naudé, Johan van Jaarsveld, Peter Grobbelaar, Kobus van der Colff, Jannie Gildenhuys, Pietro Nolte, Pieter Joubert, Fitz Morley, Glynn Day, Tine Balder, Sandra Kotzé, Wena Naudé, Nerina Ferreira, Johan Malherbe. The play opened in the Hofmeyr Theatre on 26 August 1968. Decor and costumes by Stephen de Villiers. (Danie Botha, in a LitNet review, quotes André P. Brink, and says that it opened on 26 Augustus 1969. He possibly confused the year of the first performance with the year of publication of Brink's Afrikaans translation.)

1972: PACT, Arena Theatre, Johannesburg. Directed by Ken Leach.

1976: Directed by Job Stewart for CAPAB English Drama, first performance at the Settlers Monument Theatre 7 July 1976, opened at the Nico Malan Theatre 13 August 1976. The large cast included Neville Thomas, John Whiteley, Ethwyn Grant, Eileen Thorns, Bill Jervis, Maralin Vanrenen, Peter Curtis, Mary Dreyer, Patti Canning, Lois Butlin, Roger Dwyer, Colin Duell, Arthur Hall. Sets and costumes designed by Peter Cazalet, lighting by John T. Baker.

2010: The Tragedy of Richard III National Arts Festival 2010. Presented by Abrahamse Meyer Productions in association with the National Arts Festival. Directed by Fred Abrahamse, with David Dennis, Marcel Meyer, Anelisa Phewa. The production is played as a fast-paced political thriller utilizing the small company of three actors in multiople roles, with set designs by Fred Abrahamse, costume design by Marcel Meyer, masks by Izelle Grobler and the puppets by Hillette Stapelberg. It premièred at the Grahamstown Festival in 2010 and played at various venues in the country in 2010-2011.

2014: Performed as an Artscape presentation at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre in Cape Town, , directed by Lara Bye, with Warrick Grier, Nicky Rebelo, Jennifer Steyn, Rob van Vuuren, Faniswa Yisa,Erica Rogers, Daniel Richards, Kate Liquorish, Wessel Pretorius, Mari Borstlap and others. The production adapted the classic tale, setting it in a heightened, contemporary, supernatural background.


F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [3]: pp. 144, 171 216, 225, 375, 396, 424-5

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.68, 79, 87-90, 113, 299, 324, 332, 339-344, 347, 369, 392 and 404.

William Groom. 1899-1900. Drama in Cape Town. Cape Illustrated Magazine, 10(4): 478-481, 517-520, 547-552, 580-584, 640-643, 670-672, 706-708.

Artslink News - Monday, January 13, 2014 2:36 PM

Photograph, NELM Manuscripts - [Collection: FLETCHER, Jill]: 2005. 75. 19. 50.

Teater SA, 1(1), 1968.

Richard III (Afrikaans) theatre programme, 1968.

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