Sorrows and Rejoicings

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Sorrows and Rejoicings is 2001 a play by Athol Fugard. First published by Theatre Communications Group, New York in 2002. Published by Witwatersrand University Press in 2002.

Performance history

First performed in May 2001 in the McCarter Theatre, Princeton USA, directed by Athol Fugard, with John Glover, Blair Brown, Scotty Caldwell and Marcy Harriell. The New York production (at the Second Stage, January 2002) had John Glover, Marcy Harriell, Charlayne Woodard and Judith Light. It also played in London at the Tricycle (March 2002) with the South African cast, and in April-June at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles with a change in cast.

Performance history in South Africa

2001/2: First South African production at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town in August, directed by Athol Fugard and Susan Hilferty, with Marius Weyers (Dawid), Denise Newman (Marta), Jennifer Steyn (Allison) and Amrain Ismail-Essop (Rebecca). Lighting design by Mannie Manim. The same production was staged in the Arena at the State Theatre, Pretoria in July 2002.

2015: Presented by the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department in July at the H.B. Thom Theatre directed by Sukki Hofmeyr starring students Francois Maree (Dawid Olivier), Genovese Julies (Marta Barends), Anja van den Berg (Allison Olivier) and Vashti Prins (Rebecca). Lighting by Albert Snyman.


A play about a white exiled poet who returns to the Karoo to die, and his relationship with the land and the three women in his life. His first play written in its entirety outside of South Africa, it shows the profound longing of a man for the land of his birth and his mother tongue.

The central character is an Afrikaner poet who rejected apartheid South Africa and went into exile in the 1980s. Now, sixteen years later, he returns to die in his Karoo home town and the action takes place after his funeral with the three women in his life talking about the past, the present and the future – the dead poet appears in flashbacks. The women are his Johannesburg-born English-speaking wife, the coloured servant who was also his mistress and mother of his child, and the daughter, who stands for South Africa’s disaffected younger generation. In their dialogue and through the flashbacks they explore the past and try to understand the present. [Van Heerden (2008)][1]. p. 118.

Translations and adaptations


Baxter Theatre programme, 2001.

Sorrows and Rejoicings theatre programme, 2015.

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