Seen by many as a visionary metaphor for the battle between good and evil, or even for civilization in Africa.
The original text
Written in the form of an epic Greek verse play, this work tells the story of
Translations and adaptations
Translated into English by Antony Dawes (1968), into German by W.A. Kellner (1970), into Kwanyama by Paavo Hasheela (1982), the radio version translated into Zulu, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho and Xhosa by various SABC broadcasters (1980s).
The poem has seen many adaptations over the years, in such diverse forms as visual art, music, dance, prose, theatre, radio and film. Here we only consider the stage, radio and film versions. (For more information on other forms, see for example van Koller and Van Jaarsveld, 2010)
The first known performance appears to be a ballet put on in Amsterdam in the 1950s to the music of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of spring (1913), but in many ways the most notable version was perhaps Frank Staff's seminal ballet (1967), which has been re-choreographed to Staff's original choreography a few times by Veronica Paeper (1999, 2004). It proved to be such a success that it was soon made into a film that was distributed worldwide by Twentieth Century Fox.
Other adaptations include a "radiophonic drama" by Graham Newcater (1967), a radio version by Truida Pohl and various AQfrican-language translators (SABC, 1989), a dansteater ("dance theatre") piece by Anton van Niekerk (KKNK, 1999) and even a flower-arrangement and performed version of the epic poem by the Gariepdam Amateur-toneelgeselskap (2005).
While Raka was written in the dramatic form of a Greek tragedy, it has never actually been performed as written. However, the text has been seen in a variety of adapted forms in the country. Often simply as a dramatised verse reading or perfomance by a single narrator, it has also been a particularly popular source of inspiration for physical theatre performers and dancers. In a way each performance actually constitutes a new play text. So they are discussed individually below.
1967: Ballet-variasie, Franks Staff and Graham Newcater.
1988: Raka - die Musical, André Letoit (ongepubliseerd)
1992: Raka, Niel le Roux (ongepubliseerd).
2004: Ballet tydens die KKNK deur die Kaapstadse Stadsballet opgevoer met Frank Staff as choreograaf.
Raka - The Ballet
In many ways the most notable version was perhaps Frank Staff's seminal ballet (1967), set to a score by Graham Newcater and the harbinger of a truly South African tradition in ballet. Raka proved such a success that it was soon made into a film that was distributed worldwide by Twentieth Century Fox.
Performed many times in various ways by a range of companies thereafter, including the George Arts Festival (2001, with Christo Davids), the Cape Town City Ballet and Artscape (choreographed by Veronica Paeper, KKNK, 2010), . Staff's choreography recreated by Veronica Paeper and performed at the KKNK in 2010.
Radio versions in Afrikaans and in the African languages
Die uiteindelike vertalings is in prosavorm alhoewel enkele gedeeltes ook in digvorm vertaal is. Tipies van die inheemse (swart) kultuur in Suid-Afrika is daar heelwat liedere vir solostem, manne-, vroue- en kinderkore daarin opgeneem. Musiek vir die liedere is deur P.J. Simelane,
Raka by Niel le Roux (1992)
A (one act?) stage adaptation by Niel le Roux. Unpublished.
Raka – Die Musical ("Raka - The Musical") is a radical adaptation set in the apartheid years, in the era of P. W. Botha, the state of emergency and the struggle, supporting the anti-Apartheid vision of the ANC. Not formally published, though an acting edition was published by DALRO. As far as is known it has not yet been performed. He later published a thriller called Raka die roman ("Raka: The novel") under the name Koos Kombuis (Human and Rousseau, 2006).
Return to R
Return to South African Theatre Plays
Return to Main Page