Le Balcon

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Le Balcon (English: "The Balcony") [1] is a play by the French dramatist Jean Genet (1910-1986). Set in an unnamed city that is experiencing a revolutionary uprising in the streets, most of the action takes place in an upmarket brothel that functions as a microcosm of the regime of the establishment under threat outside. Since Peter Zadek directed its first production at the Arts Theatre Club in London in 1957, the play has been revived frequently (in various versions) and has attracted many prominent directors, including Peter Brook, Erwin Piscator, Roger Blin, Giorgio Strehler, and JoAnne Akalaitis. It has also been adapted as a film and given operatic treatment.

Translations and adaptations

The Balcony exists in three distinct versions, published in French in 1956, 1960, and 1962. The first version consists of two acts of fifteen scenes and includes a dream sequence in which Irma's dream of three wounded young men — who personify blood, tears, and sperm — is enacted immediately before Arthur returns to the brothel and is abruptly shot. The second version is the longest and most political. The third version is shorter and reduces the political content of the scene with the café revolutionaries. Bernard Frechtman's first English translation, The Balcony (published in 1958) was based on Genet's second version, while Frechtman's second, revised English translation (published in 1966) was based on Genet's third version. A translation by Barbara Wright and Terry Hands, which the RSC used in its 1987 production, incorporates scenes and elements from all three versions. (Wikipedia)

Translated from the English into Afrikaans by Herman Pretorius in 1990 under the title Die Balkon.

Performance history in South Africa

1988: The Frechtman English translation, The Balcony, was revised by Mitzi Booysen and staged by PACT, directed by Dieter Reible, with Ronel Kriel (The Addict), Jan Mnisi (The Terrorist), James Winkler (Roger), Dan Sebogodi (Armand & 1st Photographer), Jacqui Singer (Chantal), Mitzi Booysen (Georgette), Jonathan Rands (The Bishop), Shareen Swart (The Bishop's Lady), Wilna Snyman (Irma), Hannes Muller (Arthur), Pieter Brand (The Judge), Nomhle Nkonyeni (The Thief), Michael McCabe (The General), Natania van Heerden (The General's Horse), Aletta Bezuidenhout (Carmen), Dale Cutts (The Chief of Police), Johan Scholtz (Luc & 2nd Photographer) and Bill Curry (The Court Envoy). Assistant Director Ilse van Hemert, decor, costumes and lighting designed by James MacNamara.

1990: The Pretorius Afrikaans translation, Die Balkon, was staged by the Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch in the H.B. Thom Theatre in May, directed by Herman Pretorius, featuring Arnold Hoon, Bianca Blanckenberg, Tanya Swanepoel, André van der Merwe, Theresa van As, Erik de Waal, Waldi Schultz and others.

9, 11 and 12 September 2009: Staged as The Balcony at the Port Elizabeth Opera House. Starring Gift Buqa


Wikipedia [2]

PACT theatre programme, 1988.

UTS theatre pamphlet

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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