Present Laughter

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Present Laughter by Noël Coward. A comic play written by in 1939 and first staged in 1942 on tour [1].

Presented at Haymarket Theatre, London, 16 April 1947 starring South African-born actress Moira Lister.

Performance history in South Africa

1949: Produced in South Africa by the Brian Brooke Company, direction shared by Brian Brooke and Petrina Fry, starring Brian Brooke (Garry Essendine) and Cynthia Klette (Joanna). There was a run at the Hofmeyr Theatre, moving to the Labia Theatre for two weeks while the Hofmeyr was being renovated. Backed by African Consolidated Theatres, the production opened at His Majesty's Theatre, Johannesburg on 28 November 1949 before moving to Durban for four weeks. Designed by Frank and Doreen Graves.

1954: Produced by Anthony Farmer with the Johannesburg Repertory Players with Ruth Hooper in the cast (9-25 September).

1969: Directed by Charles Hickman, opening in the Alexander Theatre on 21 May. Décor by Clarence Wilson, gowns by Peter Soldatos. The cast: Marion Achber, Sheelagh Ross, Anthony James, Margaret Inglis, Bernard Brown, Margaret Heale, Ian Hamilton, George Korelin, Gordon Mulholland, Jenny Gratus, Margaret Dickie-Clarke.

1974: Presented by CAPAB English Drama, directed by Roger Dwyer opening at the Nico Malan Theatre, opening 14 September, starring Lois Butlin, Zoë Randall, Roger Dwyer, Vivienne Drummond, Michael Atkinson, Pamela Buchner, Nicholas Ellenbogen, David Crichton, John Whiteley, Marion Achber, Joyce Bradley. Set designed by Roy Cooke, lighting by Malcolm Hurrell, costumes by Penny Simpson. This production visited the H.B. Thom Theatre on 25 and 26 October.

1979: Presented by PACT Drama at the Breytenbach Theatre and the Alexander Theatre, directed by John Hussey assisted by Bobby Heaney starring Merle Lifson (Daphne Stillington), Margaret Heale (Miss Erikson)), Michael McCabe (Fred), Patricia Sanders (Monica Reed), John Hussey (Gary Essendine), Shelagh Holliday (Liz Essendine), Bobby Heaney (Roland Maule), Ronald Wallace (Henry Lyppoatt), Terrick Fitzhugh (Morris Dixon), Erica Rogers (Joanna Lyppiatt) and Maggie Holland (Lady Saltburn). Sets and costumes designed by Gloria Lovegrove, lighting designed by Jannie Swanepoel. Stage manager Jane Gosnell.

1987: Staged by CAPAB in the Nico Malan Theatre, opening 15 December, directed by Michael Atkinson, design by Dicky Longhurst, lighting by Malcolm Hurrell. The cast: Fiona Coyne, Zoë Randall, David Dennis, Paddy Canavan, Robert Whitehead, Diane Wilson, Alan Swerdlow, John Dennison, Richard Farmer, Mary Dreyer, Diana Allen.

1989: Directed by Moira Lister for NAPAC at the Drama Theatre starring Michael Atkinson and Liz Szymczak.

2018: Presented by Pieter Toerien at Theatre on the Bay (February), directed by Fred Abrahamse.

Translations and adaptations


Brooke 1978. 184.

Teater SA, 1(4), 1969.

Present Laughter theatre programmes 1974, 1979.

UTS theatre pamphlet

Citizen 20 December 1988.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

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