As with most of Shakespeare's plays, there are multiple names for the works, from full titles with subtitles, to shortened titles like this one. In this case the play is often listed as The Tragedy of Richard III, Richard the Third, or The Battle of Bosworth Field, King Richard the Third, Richard the Third, or other combinations thereof. But Richard III is perhaps most commonly used title for the play.
The play and its history
Believed to have been written in approximately 1592, since the Diary of Philip Henslowe records a popular play he calls Buckingham, performed in December 1593 and January 1594, which might have been Shakespeare's play. However, the earliest certain performance occurred on 16 or 17 November 1633, when Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria watched it on the Queen's birthday. The first quarto (under the title The Tragedy of Richard the Third) is dated 1597.
The role has been a favourite of actors throughout the ages.
Notable for South African theatre was the performance by Antony Sher at Stratford in 1985, where he played it on crutches. He wrote his famous diary about his preparation for the role, published as The Year of the King.
Translations and adaptations
Colley Cibber produced the most successful of the Restoration adaptations of Shakespeare with his version, also entitled Richard III, at Drury Lane starting 1699, when it was initially beanned. He published his text and the story of its initial censorship in 1700, and began to perform it again, playing the lead role himself, and continuing to do so till 1739. His version was on stage for the next century and a half.
South African translations and adaptations
According to Bosman (1928, pp. 144) what appears to be an abbreviated version of the text was performed as King Richard the Third in Cape Town in 1813. No author given, but it was most probably the Cibber version.
An adaptation of the play called Hellhound, written by James Whyle, was staged in the Laager Theatre, 25 May - June 1992 directed by Neil McCarthy, starring Michelle Botes, Dan Robbertse, Owen de Jager, Robin Smith, and Gideon de Wet. Michael Maxwell was the lightining designer, Anton Burggraaf the set/costume designer.
South African productions
1847: "A Serio-Comic Burlesque on the Tent Scene from Richard III" performed for the benefit of the Regimental School on 7 July by the 90th Light Infantry in the Amateur Theatre, Cape Town, with No. 23, John-Street, Adelphi (Buckstone) and The Wreck Ashore (Buckstone)
1849 (or possibly 1850): James Lycett and his company did an acclaimed production of the full play as Richard the Third, or The Battle of Bosworth Field in Cape Town, as the opening performance of the new theatre in Haupt's wine store at 21 Hope Street. James Lycett appeared as "Richard". The rest of his company was made up of what Laidler (1926) called "capable amateurs", including Mr Shaw, Mr Brannigan, Mr Bevern, R. Divine, A. Barker, Mr Kirton. The female characters were played by women, apart from the Duchess of York, who was portrayed by a Mr Charles Spolander. The women were Miss Blakemore and Mrs Burdett.
1868/9(?): A performance of a piece called King Richard the III (billed as a "plantation burlesque") was performed by the amateurs of the 32nd Light Infantry in Grahamstown, accompanied by a "plantation dance".
1895-6: Performed by the Holloway Theatre Company, under the auspices of the Wheeler Theatre Company theatre company as part of a season of plays which opened in the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg on the 26th December with Othello. The company was composed of William J. Holloway, Leonard Rayne, Gerald Lawrence, Amy Grace, John Nesbitt, William Haviland and Amy Coleridge. The company also played other cities, including the Opera House, Cape Town, for a season that opened in May 1896.
1967: University of the Free State Drama Department, in association with the Bloemfontein Shakespeare Circle, directed by Jo Gevers, with Jo Gevers, Annatjie Vorster, Marlene Kotzen. 7-10 June at the Bloemfontein Civic Theatre. Other cast members included Temple Hauptfleisch and Clive Kaplan.
1968/9: Robert Mohr directed André P. Brink's translation into Afrikaans for CAPAB, with Cobus Rossouw as Richard. The rest of the cast were, among others, André Rossouw, Don Clifford, Johan Naudé, Johan van Jaarsveld, Peter Grobbelaar, Kobus van der Colff, Jannie Gildenhuys, Pietro Nolte, Pieter Joubert, Fitz Morley, Glynn Day, Tine Balder, Sandra Kotzé, Wena Naudé, Nerina Ferreira, Johan Malherbe. The play opened in the Hofmeyr Theatre on 26 August 1968. Decor and costumes by Stephen de Villiers. (Danie Botha, in a LitNet review, quotes André P. Brink), and says that it opened on 26 Augustus 1969. He possibly confused the year of performance with the year of publication of Brink's Afrikaans translation.)
1976: Directed by Job Stewart for CAPAB English Drama, first performance at the Settlers Monument Theatre 7 July 1976, opened at the Nico Malan Theatre 13 August 1976. The large cast included Neville Thomas, John Whiteley, Ethwyn Grant, Eileen Thorns, Bill Jervis, Maralin Vanrenen, Peter Curtis, Mary Dreyer, Patti Canning, Lois Butlin, Roger Dwyer, Colin Duell, Arthur Hall. Sets and costumes designed by Peter Cazalet, lighting by John T. Baker.
2010: The Tragedy of Richard III National Arts Festival 2010. Presented by Abrahamse Meyer Productions in association with the National Arts Festival. Directed by Fred Abrahamse, with David Dennis, Marcel Meyer, Anelisa Phewa. The production is played as a fast-paced political thriller utilizing the small company of three actors in multiople roles, with set designs by Fred Abrahamse, costume design by Marcel Meyer, masks by Izelle Grobler and the puppets by Hillette Stapelberg. It premièred at the Grahamstown Festival in 2010 and played at various venues in the country in 2010-2011.
2014: The classic tale of treachery is set in a heightened, contemporary, supernatural background. An Artscape presentation at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre in Cape Town. Directed by Lara Bye, with Warrick Grier, Nicky Rebelo, Jennifer Steyn, Rob van Vuuren, Faniswa Yisa,Erica Rogers, Daniel Richards, Kate Liquorish, Wessel Pretorius, Mari Borstlap and others.
Artslink News - Monday, January 13, 2014 2:36 PM
Photograph, NELM Manuscripts - [Collection: FLETCHER, Jill]: 2005. 75. 19. 50.
Teater SA, 1(1), 1968.
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