On Fait ce qu'on Peut et non pas ce qu'on Veut

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On Fait ce qu'on Peut et non pas ce qu'on Veut ("One does what one can, not what one wants") is a one act comédie-proverbe for two actors by Dorvigny (nom de plume of Louis-François Archambault, 1742-1812)[1].

The original text

Performed for the first time in Paris at Le Théâtre des Varieties Amusantes in 1779. Published in French by J.B. Broulhiet, rue Saint-Rome, Toulouse , in 1785.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Dutch as Men Doet Wat Men Kan, Niet Wat Men Wil ("One does what one can, not what one wants") by Hendrik Ogelwight jr (1764-1841)[2], was published in 1787 (and again in 1805) in Amsterdam by Pieter Johannes Uylenbroek.

Performance history in South Africa

1806: First performed in South Africa on 31 May by a French Amateur Company in the African Theatre, Cape Town, and Bosman (1928) suggests that it may have been done in the Dutch version, as Men Doet Wat Men Kan, Niet Wat Men Wil. It was accompanied by performances of Pygmalion (Rousseau). (Bosman appears to also mention an unnamed Lyrische Scene done by Delémery, but the problem is clearly his sentence structure - he is actually referring to Rousseau's work.)

1815: Produced in Dutch as Men Doet Wat Men Kan, Niet Wat Men Wil on 11 November by Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense on 11 November, with the addition of De Struikroovers van Kalabrien, of De Onveilige Wildernis ( Tréogate) and Jean-Pierre-Diogenes, of L'Orateur dans un Tonneau ("The Speaker in a Barrel").

1819: Performed in Dutch in the African Theatre, Cape Town, on 16 October by a new Dutch amateur company, playing under the motto Men Doet Wat Men Kan. It was accompanied by Dago, of De Spaansche Bedelaars (Cuvelier), and a performance of an "English Favorite Air" by the orchestra of the 54th Regiment, conducted by "Monsieur Cesar".

1836: Apparently enquiries about borrowing a Dutch text were made by Vlyt en Kunst sometime in January , though the play is not mentioned again in connection with the company.





F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [3]: pp. 92, 135, 140, 335

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