Rip van Winkle

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Rip van Winkle is the name of a character in a number of stories, plays, films, and so on, as well as the title of various stage and film versions of the of the original tale about the character.

Also found written as Rip Van Winkle or Rip in French.

A number of these works have been performed or shown in South Africa.

The original tale

"Rip Van Winkle" is the title of a short story by the American author Washington Irving (1783-1859). It tells the story of Dutch-American villager in colonial America who falls asleep in the Catskill Mountains and wakes up 20 years later, having missed the American Revolution.

While there are a number of similar sotries in the canon of Europaean folklore, myth and literature, Irving's tale is widely thought to have been partly based on Johann Karl Christoph Nachtigal's German folktale "Peter Klaus[1]", set in a German village, in which a goatherd goes looking for a lost goat and finds some men drinking in the woods. Having had something to drink with them, he falls asleep and wakes back up after twenty years.

Irving's version was first published as one of the stories in the first volume of Irving's book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent on June 23, 1819, published by Cornelius S. Van Winkle (Baltimore, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia).

The story of Rip has been translated and adapted in numerous ways since.

Stage versions of the tale

International versions

The first dramatized version of the tale was performed on 26 May, 1828, on the Albany stage by Thomas Flynn, the adaptation by an unnamed local writer. In October of 1829 a new version called Rip van Winkle, or The Demons of the Catskill Mountains! by a British actor, John Kerr, was produced at the Tottenham Street Theatre in London as well as the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.

In 1850, an adaptation of the Kerr version was done by Charles Burke with the title Rip van Winkle, a Legend of the Catskill Mountains (published by Samuel French as no of their "Standard Drama". The play was performed in Philadelphia and elsewhere, featuring American actor Joseph Jefferson, Burkes brother-in-law.

In 1865 Joseph Jefferson (1829-1905), who had performed various dramatizations of the character on the 19th-century stage, asked Dion Boucicault (1820-1890) to write a new stage adaptation based on the earlier versions by Kerr and Burke. Called Rip Van Winkle, or The Sleep of Twenty Years it was a three-act version (later expanded to four acts by Jefferson), which opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London on 4 September, 1865 and on Broadway in 1866. The text was published by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1895 as Rip van Winkle as played by Joseph Jefferson, with a subtitle stating: now for the first time published, with illustrations[2]. No accreditation is given on the title page for the contributions of Irving, Boucicault, Kerr or Burke.

In 1876 A Young Rip Van Winkle , an original burlesque by Robert Reece (1838-1891)[3], was first performed at the Charing Cross Theatre, under the management of John Hollingshead, on 17 April. The text was published in London by E. Rimmel in the same year.

In 1882 Rip Van Winkle, an operetta in three acts based on the stories The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving as well as the play by Dion Boucicault and Joseph Jefferson, was composed by Robert Planquette (1848-1903)[4], with an English language libretto by Henry Brougham Farnie (1836-1889)[5]. The English version was first performed at the Royal Comedy Theatre in London on October 14, 1882, adapted for performance by Dion Boucicault.

In 1884 a French version of Planquette's operetta, with a libretto by Henri Meilhac, Philippe Gille and Farnie was first shown at the Folies-Dramatiques in Paris on November 11, under the shortened title of Rip[6].

For many subsequent stage adaptations, see the Wikipedia entry on "Rip Van Winkle"[7]

South African versions

Rip van Winkel, a retelling in Afrikaans by Alba Bouwer, was first published by Tafelberg Uitgewers in 1965, with illustrations by local artist Katrine Harries (1914-1978)[8].

Rip van Winkle, an Afrikaans operetta for children, adapted to the South African context and intended for school use, was written by Jac J. Brits (the libretto) and Walter Swanson (music). The performance text published by DALRO in in 1982, four editions being published between 1982 and 1983 in Afrikaans and German.

Productions of Rip van Winkle in South Africa

1876: Rip van Winkle ("founded on Washington Irving's well-known story", no author given) performed by the Disney Roebuck Company in the Athenaeum Hall, Cape Town, on 8 July with the burlesque La Somnambula (Moncrieff). The play apparently a great success with the public, with J.B. Howe giving one of his "most successful impersonations" in the leading role.

1876: A Young Rip van Winkle (Reece) performed by the Disney Roebuck Company in the Athenaeum Hall, Cape Town, on 16 September, featuring dances and songs by William Elton and Louise Balfe. Played as afterpiece to Under the Gaslight (Daly).

1876: A Young Rip van Winkle (Reece) performed again by the Disney Roebuck Company in the Athenaeum Hall, Cape Town, on 19 September. Played as afterpiece to The Rightful Heir (Bulwer-Lytton).

1876: A Young Rip van Winkle (Reece) repeated once more by the Disney Roebuck Company in the Athenaeum Hall, Cape Town, on 21 September, featuring dances and songs by William Elton and Louise Balfe. Played as afterpiece to Naval Engagements (Dance).

1893-4: Rip van Winkle (probably the Planquette and Farnie version) performed as by the Lyric Opera Company while on tour in South Africa.

1980s?: A production of a piece called Rip van Winkle (probably the Brits and Swanson operetta version) is mentioned in Wilma Stockenström's biography. She appeared in it as an actress.

Film versions of the tale

International film versions

In 1896 the Jefferson/Boucicault play was adapted as a short black-and-white silent compilation film (made up of scenes from the story, starring Jefferson), written and directed by William K.L. Dickson. The series was released in May, 1903.

On December 6, 1910 a silent version, produced by the Thanhouser Company and distributed by Motion Picture Distributing and Sales Company was released. It featured Frank H. Crane as "Rip Van Winkle".

On 9 November 1914 a new version featuring Joseph Jefferson was released. It had been produced by Edwin Middleton for Rolfe Photoplays (as B.A. Rolfe Photoplayers Inc.), with a scenario by Frederick Story. Distributed by Alco Film Corporation (1914) and by Sunbeam Motion Picture Corp. in 1921 (re-release).

For many other adaptations, see the Wikipedia entry on "Rip Van Winkle"[9]

South African film versions

In 1960 Rip van Wyk a localized film version, written by Emil Nofal and Jamie Uys and produced and directed by Emil Nofal, was released in South Africa.

The cast consisted of Jamie Uys, Wynona Cheyney, Rina Viljoen, Gert van den Bergh, Willem Loots, Johan Malherbe, Kristo Pienaar, Petro McDonald, Willie van Rensburg, Willie Herbst, Douglas Fuchs, Johan du Plooy, Nilo Naudé-van Zyl, Marie Fuchs, Ernst Schutte, Lydia Lindeque, Pieter de Bruyn, Arthur Hall, Pieter Hauptfleisch, Dana Niehaus, Ben Willemse, Christo Gerber (as Chris Gerber), Ralph Loubser (as Ralph Laubscher), Francis Coertze (as Frances Coertze), Roelof de Bruyn, Awie Labuschagne, Sam Petzer, Siegfried Mynhardt, Gilbert Gibson, Kosie Jooste, Harry Hughes, Ian Strauss, André Huguenet (as himself - uncredited)

Music is by Richard Cherry, cinematography by Vernon Whitten, film editing by Peter Henkel, makeup by Hilda Geerdts, production management by Willie Herbst, set construction by Bob Evans, sound by Anthony Keyser, visual Effects by James Reindorp, camera operator Vincent G. Cox, wardrobe by Hilda Geerdts, continuity by Yvonne Jennings. Music for the film provided by Anton de Waal and Nick Potgieter.


Facsimile version of the first printed edition of A Young Rip Van Winkle, the burlesque by Reece, Google E-book[10]

Facsimile version of the first printed edition of the Jefferson and Boucicault play, Hathi Trust Digital Library.[11]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 341-351, 395, 398

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