Man Friday

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Man Friday is a play by Adrian Mitchell (1932-2008)[1].

The original text

Based on Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe, the play was originally written as a TV play, aired in 1972 by the BBC. In it the roles of the two men are reversed however, Crusoe portrayed as a blunt, stiff Englishman, while the native he calls Man Friday is much more intelligent and empathic.

Mitchell then adapted it for the stage and it premiered at the Bush Theatre in London in 1973. The text published by Eyre Methuen, 1974 and by Popular Library, 1975.

Adaptations and translations

Filmed as Man Friday in 1975 as an adventure film, directed by Jack Gold and starring Peter O'Toole and Richard Roundtree.[2]

Performance history in South Africa

1994: The stage version performed at the Market Theatre in October, directed by Gerrit Schoonhoven with Alistair Dube, David Butler, Zenzi Mbuli, Ignatius Qulu, Lucky Ngojo.


Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Andile Xaba. 2021. 'Collective memory and the construction of a historical narrative, analysis and interpretation of selected Soweto-based community plays (1984–1994)'. Unpublished PhD thesis.

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