Private Lives

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Private Lives is a 1930 comedy of manners by Noël Coward [1]. An immensely popular musical comedy originally written for Gertrude Lawrence, and produced in 1930 with Coward and Laurence Olivier. It was Coward's most enduringly successful work and is generally regarded as the high point of his career both commercially and artistically.

Performance history in South Africa

1947: Presented by the Brian Brooke Company in Muizenberg, Somerset West, Rondebosch, Paarl starring Cynthia Klette and Bob Courtney (as Victor, later replaced by Brian Brooke), directed by Petrina Fry. The season ended at the Hofmeyr Hall in Cape Town.

The Brian Brooke Company presented this play on another occasion, probably at the Brooke Theatre, Johannesburg, in the 1950s, starring Dulcie Gray and Michael Denison.

1953: Directed by Minna Millsten for Johannesburg Reps from 17 April at the Reps Theatre. Cast: Marjorie Gordon (Amanda), Cameron McClure (Elyot), Olive King (Sybil), Richard Gray (Victor) .

1953: Presented by the Port Elizabeth Amateur Theatre Guild.

1963: Margaret Inglis and Robert Langford revived the play in 1964, starring Robert himself and Shelagh Holliday as well as Patrick Mynhardt as Victor.

1968: Opened at the Durban Jewish Club on 2 July, directed by Frank Shelley, for NAPAC. Cast Erica Rogers, later replaced by Valerie Miller, Danvers Walker, Moira Waldron, and Ian Hamilton.

1969: Jane Osborne as Amanda Prynne and Arthur Clarke as Elyot Chase produced by Ann Botha for the GADS (Grahamstown Amateur Dramatic Society).

1974: Presented by Pieter Toerien and Shirley Firth at The Intimate Theatre, Johannesburg, directed by John Fernald starring South African-born Hildegard Neil.

1978: Directed by Peter Curtis for CAPAB, opening 28 February. Settings by Peter Krummeck, costumes Jennifer Craig, lighting John T. Baker. The cast included Helen Bourne (Amanda Prynne), John Whiteley (Elyot Chase), Mary Dreyer (Sybil Chase), Liz Dick (Louise, a maid) and Peter Cartwright (Victor Prynne).

1988: In 1988 the play was presented by Pieter Toerien, opening 18 March in the Leonard Rayne Theatre, starring Sandra Duncan, Philip Godawa, Vanessa Cooke, Neville Thomas and Eleni Cousins, directed by Robert Whitehead. At the National Arts Festival Sybil Chase was played by Gaynor Young. Subsequently presented by NAPAC Drama and Pieter Toerien at the Hexagon Theatre, Pietermaritzburg, and the Loft Theatre, Natal Playhouse, directed by Robert Whitehead, from 26 July.

2002: Presented by KickstArt at the Kwasuka Theatre, directed by Greg King, from 26 September.

2002: Staged by Pieter Toerien Productions at the Grahamstown Festival, directed by Maralin Vanrenen, with Suanne Braun (Amanda), Warren Kimmel (Elyot), Alexandra Bairnsfather Cloete (Sybil), James van Helsdingen (Victor) and Elise van Niekerk. Sets by Keith Anderson, costumes by Bronwyn Lovegrove and Margo Fleisch, lighting by Jannie Swanepoel (Louise). The same production was presented at the Montecasino Theatre in July 2002 and subsequently at Theatre on the Bay.

2013: Staged by the Claremont Dramatic Society in the Masque Theatre in Muizenberg, directed by John Carne, with Faeron Wheeler (Sybil), Dante Greeff (Elyot), Brandon Gregory (Victor), Liz Roodt (Amanda), Kim Randleff-Rasmussen, Helen Broekmann and Melissa Sanderson.

Translations and adaptations


Grütter, Wilhelm, CAPAB 25 Years, 1987. Unpublished research. p 90.

Teater SA, 1(1), 1968.

NELM: [Collection: Rhodes University. Drama Department]: 2006. 6. 5. 19.

Brooke 1978. 164-5.

Private Lives theatre programmes, 1978 (CAPAB), 2002.

See How They Run theatre programme, 1988.

National Arts Festival programme, 1988. 58.

Tucker, 1997. 67, 182, 307.

EP Herald, 5 July 2002.

The Star, 22 July 2002.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page