Lebedinaia pesnia

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Lebedinaia pesnia (лебединая песня in Cyrillic script, meaning "swan song") is a one-act Russian play by Anton Chekhov (1860–1904)[1].

Known as Swan Song in English and Swanesang in Afrikaans

The original text

Written in 1887, the play was adapted from one of Chekhov's own short stories,and is described in English as as a vaudeville about an old actor and his prompter in a theatre after the lights go out.

Translations and adaptations


Originally translated into English as Swan Song by Marian Fell and published, with an introduction by Fell, in 1912 by Charles Scribner's Sons. A sound recording of the English play by was made by Alan Davis Drake and published as an audiobook in [2]

Since then translated and adapted into English a number of times, including a celebrated adaptation for radion by by Michael Frayn performed by Paul Scofield and Alec McGowan, on BBC Radio 3 on 12 March, 2006 at 18:30, directed by Martin Jenkins. This has since been performed on stage a number of times by various actors.

Also found as Swansong in English.


There are three Afrikaans plays called Swanesang (= Swan Song), all three translations of Anton Chekhov's one-act play:

Swanesang by Pietro Nolte (Unpublished, performed 1972/3)

Swanesang by Salomi Louw, published as an acting text by DALRO.

Swanesang by Nico Luwes, published on the Litnet-spens[3]

Performance history in South Africa

1972 or 1973: Swanesang (the Nolte translation) presented by the Kaapse Teatergroep. Mavis Lilenstein was the stage manager.


World Drama by Allardyce Nicoll, 1947. 683.



The Audiobook by Alan Davis Drake, the Internet Archive[4].

Text of Swanesang by Nico Luwes in the LitNet-spens[5]

Scrapbook donated by Mavis Lilenstein, held by NELM (re Kaapse Teatergroep production): [Collection: LILENSTEIN, Mavis]: 2007. 9. 25. 5.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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