Arms and the Man

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Arms and the Man (1894) [1] is a comedy in three acts by George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) [2].

The original text

A popular comic satire on war, about a soldier who carried chocolates rather than arms to the front. First performed at the Avenue Theatre, London on 21 April 1894.

Translations and adaptations

The play was the source of the comic opera The Chocolate Soldier. *

Translated into Afrikaans by A.J.B. de Klerk as Minnaars onder die Wapen for performance by the NTO in 1949. De Klerk's translation also found in under various other titles, e.g. Soldate-vryers, Soldatevryers, Die Soldate-vryers and Die Soldateminnaars.

Famously became the basis for The Chocolate Soldier, the much loved 1908 operetta by Oscar Straus (1870–1954)[3] (a version of the play so detested by Shaw that the later 1941 film version used only Straus's music, with a text based on Ferenc Molnár's play The Guardsman.)

Performance history in South Africa

1933: Produced in English by the Cape Town Repertory Society in the Little Theatre, 28-29 July, directed by J.E.H. Duckworth.

1941: Produced by Mary Holder for the University of Cape Town Dramatic Society with Peggy Goodman, Leonard Schach, Ada Kaplan, Elizabeth Bushell, Donald Inskip, John Burnett, John Walker.

1944: Produced in English by Joyce Burch with the Stellenbosch University Speech-Training Students in the Little Theatre in 1944, with Johanna Olivier, Charles Johnman, Miems de Bruyn (as Miemie de Bruyn), Kitty Roux, Johan Liebetrau, Chris Botha.

1949: An Afrikaans translation Minnaar onder die Wapen ("Lover in Arms") was performed by the NTO, Directed by Marda Vanne and, among others, featuring Pikkie van Niekerk, Berdine Grünewald (as Raina), Siegfried Mynhardt, Japie van Niekerk, Laurie van der Merwe and André Huguenet. Staged at the City Hall, Port Elizabeth, on July 27 & 28. 1949. It was also staged, on alternate nights, with Die Indringer ("The Outsider") in Graaff Reinet on July 22 & 23, in Somerset East on July 25 & 26, and Grahamstown on August 1 & 2.

1950: Performed in English by the Brian Brooke Company in Cape Town.

1954: Produced by the Johannesburg Repertory Players, producer Cecil Williams, at the Reps Theatre, from 5 to 20 February 1954, with Ruth Hooper and Cecily Langston in the cast and Anthony Farmer as stage director.

1958: Performed in April at the Little Theatre, directed by Leonard Schach for the Cape Town Repertory Theatre Society. Decor and costumes by Mavis Taylor. In the cast: Elizabeth Bennett, Nicholas Boud, Connie Dix-Hart, Paul Jowell, Ian Kennedy, Peter Rutherford, Angela Shafto.

1965: The De Klerk translation performed as Soldate-vryers by PACT, directed by Francois Swart, with Petru Wessels (Raina), Kita Redelinghuys (credited as Kita Redelinghuijs) (Catharina), Sandra Kotze (Louka), Cobus Rossouw (Bluntschli), Rudolf Niemann (Russiese Offisier), Carel Trichardt (Nicola), James Norval (Petkoff) and Francois Swart (Saranoff). Decor and costumes by Graham Brown.

1965: The De Klerk translation performed as Die Soldateminnaars was staged by PACOFS, directed by Fred Engelen, with Jo Gevers, Johan Bernard, Michael J. Lovegrove, Christopher Hale, Annatjie Vorster, Heléne Carstens, Carmen Haddad, Louw Verwey, Crawford Vernon and George Barnes. Decor by Manfred Enickl and costumes by Gudrun Enickl.

1968: Presented in English by the University Theatre Stellenbosch in the H.B. Thom Theatre in March, produced by Jocelyn de Bruyn, starring Guma Oresta, Annelize van der Ryst, Gretchen Holzapfel, Johan Esterhuizen, Frikkie Engels, Fred Nel, Fred Stephens and John Cartwright.

1977: Presented in English by CAPAB Drama at the Nico Malan Theatre, Cape Town, directed by Peter Curtis, from 23 May, starring Lois Butlin, Roger Dwyer, John Whiteley, Rika Sennet, Simon Swindell, Zoë Randall, Neville Thomas and Barry Jarvis. Designers: Penny Simpson (sets and costumes0, John T. Baker (lighting). Touring Worcester, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth (29 June - 2 July), East London, Grahamstown, Oudtshoorn and Stellenbosch.

1979: The De Klerk translation performed as Soldatevryers by PACT, directed by David van der Merwe, with Elize van Vuuren (Raina), Marie Koeleman (Catharina), Amor Tredoux (Louka), Pierre van Pletzen (Bluntschli), Eric Nobbs (Russiese Offisier), Eric Nobbs (Nicola), David van der Merwe (Petkoff) and Mieder Olivier (Saranoff). Decor and costumes by Johan Engels.

1983: Staged in English by PACOFS, directed by Desmond Hughes, starring Michele Burgers and Michael Maxwell.

1987: The De Klerk translation performed as Soldate Vryers in Windhoek by SWAPAC, directed by Francois Swart, with among others Michelle Botes (Raina), Antoinette Kellerman (Catharina), Amor Tredoux (Louka), Richard van der Westhuizen (Bluntschli), Christo Compion (Nicola), Mees Exteen (Petkoff) and Anton Dekker (Saranoff).

1991: Performed in English by CAPAB Drama, directed by Ralph Lawson, opening 17 August at the Nico Arena, starring Elma van Wijk, Diane Wilson, Fiona Coyne, Jonathan Pienaar, Marius Peach, Neels Coetzee, Louw Verwey and Blaise Koch who won the Fleur du Cap for Best Supporting Actor Award for his role in this play. Design by Peter Cazalet, lighting by John T.Baker.


Trek, 12 September 1941, 16.

Trek 8(26):18, 1944.

Daily Advertiser, July 22, 1949.

Theatre programme held by NELM (Johannesburg Reps production): [Collection: FARMER, Anthony]: 2007. 18. 13. 68.

Theatre programme held by NELM: Collection (Performing Arts Council Orange Free State (PACOFS): 2009. 67. 4. 1)

Theatre programme held by NELM (NTO production) [Collection: WOOLFSON, Malcolm L]: 1999. 113. 10. 1. 3.

Brooke 1978. 196.

PACT theatre programmes, 1965, 1979.

PACOFS theatre programme, 1965.

Cape Argus 24 May 1977.

Inskip, 1977. p 119.

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988.

The prompt text of Soldate Vryers, as used by SWAPAC. Found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archive in 2022.

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