The original text
Two plays about a dead marriage and the bitterness that binds the characters.
The first text (Dance of Death Part 1) was written in September 1900, and then, after receiving a response to the play, part two was written in November. The two plays have much in common, and are sometimes performed in tandem, though each is a full length theatrical work.
Performances include one at the Intima Teatern, Stockholm, in 1909, directed by August Falck
Translations and adaptations
The two plays are usually (and almost inevitably) performed in some adapted form. Among those known in South Africa have been:
The Dance of Death in English
An Afrikaans translation entitled Dodedans is listed in the Geleende Vere theatre programme of André Huguenet's Teatergroep in 1944. The translator is not named, but it is clearly an earlier translation than the one subsequently done by Bartho Smit.
Play Strindberg an adaptation by Friedrich Durrenmatt
This is a free adaptation of August Strindberg's Dödsdansen. Though it is in many ways an independent and quite different play, it makes use of the characters and central situation of The Dance of Death. The author's alternative working title for the play was Strindberg Without Tears, possibly the better known title in South Africa.
It is a free adaptation of August Strindberg's using Strindberg's characters. The author's alternative working title for the play was Strindberg Without Tears, possibly the better known title in South Africa.
Written in 1968, it was first performed in German under the title Play Strindberg. Totentanz nach August Strindberg on 8 February in theBasler Komödie, directed by Durrenmatt himself and Erich Holliger. The text was published in German in 1969 and in English as Play Strindberg: The dance of death, choreographed by Friedrich Durrenmatt translated from the German by James Kirkup. London : Jonathan Cape, 1972.
The plays were adapted and filmed a number of times (e.g. The Dance of Death (France, 1948, with Erich von Stroheim); The Dance of Death (West Germany, 1967, with Lilli Palmer); and Dance of Death (UK, 1969, with Laurence Olivier) and Dödsdansen (a made for TV film, directed in Swedish by Torbjörn Ehrnvall, 1996)
Performance history in South Africa
1944: A production by the André Huguenet and his Teatergroep entitled Dodedans is listed in the Geleende Vere theatre programme in 1944. The translator is not named, but it is clearly an earlier translation than the one done by Bartho Smit.
1967: The Afrikaans version (Dodedans as translated by Smit) was directed by Fred Engelen for PACT shortly before his death in 1967 starring Louis van Niekerk as Kurt, Patrick Mynhardt as Edgar and Kita Redelinghuys as his wife. The play was presented in a triple bill with Die Spel van Liefde en Toeval by Pierre Chamblain de Marivaux and Die Burgemeester.
1971: Durrenmatt's version (Strindberg Without Tears) was performed by CAPAB Drama's Theatre Laboratory at the Hofmeyr Theatre. Directed by Nicholas Wright with Michael Atkinson, Marika Mann and John Whiteley. Designed by Raimond Schoop, assisted by Penny Simpson. Musical arrangements by Michael Tuffin, dance supervised by Jennifer Craig.
1998: Staged as The Dance of Death in the Market Theatre in April 1998, directed by Swedish director Carl Kjellgren, with John Kani, Jana Cilliers, Arthur Molepo and Bayo Jwayi. This was a co-production between the Market Theatre and the Stockholm Stadsteater as part of an exchange programme that started in 1995.
Geleende Vere theatre programme in 1944.
Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, New Series 6(1), 1968.
Strindberg Without Tears theatre programme, 1971.
Enoch Brater. 1982. "Play Strindberg" and the Theater of Adaptation", in Comparative Drama (Vol. 16, No. 1 - Spring 1982), pp. 12-25
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