Thérèse Raquin

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Thérèse Raquin is a French naturalist play by Émile Zola (1840-1902)[1].

The original text

Originally written as a notorious novel and first published in 1867, it was later rewritten as an influential play, first performed in 1873. It tells the story of Thérèse, and her lover, Laurent, who decide to murder her husband. Driven by force of conscience they end their own lives in a suicide pact.

In his preface to the second edition of the novel, Zola explains that his goal was to "study temperaments and not characters". Because of this detached and scientific approach, Thérèse Raquin is considered an example of naturalism, not only in prose but in the theatre as well.

Translations and adaptations

An English version was performed in London 1891, under the auspices of the Independent Theatre Society, since the Lord Chamberlain's Office refused to license it.

Performance history in South Africa

1894 The "Ashman Group" put on a short season in Cape Town's Opera House, consisting of Francillon (Dumas), Sunlight and Shadow (R.C. Carton) and a play called Therese, by an anonymous author, which may well have been an English version of Zola's French play.

1950s: Produced in Afrikaans by Wena Naudé's company in the 1950s, with Jane Potgieter in the lead.


Allardyce Nicoll. World Drama p.511.

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p. 400.

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