La Cantatrice Chauve

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La Cantatrice Chauve ("the bald singer") is an absurdist play by Eugène Ionesco (1909-1994) [1].

The original text

Known as Cântăreața Cheală in Romanian, this was the first play written by the French-Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco (1909-1994) [2].

It had its première on 11 May 1950 at the Théâtre des Noctambules, Paris, directed by Nicolas Bataille. Since 1957 the play has been in permanent showing at the Théâtre de la Huchette.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English as The Bald Soprano, The Bald Prima Donna, or The Bald Prima-Donna by a number of authors over the years..

Translated into Afrikaans as Die Kaalkop Prima Donna (or sometimes referred to as Die Kaalkop Primadonna) by Johan Joubert. (A copy of the text in Stellenbosch University Drama Department archive.)

An adaptation was done into Afrikaans by Benoni de Haeck and called Die Ballerina sonder borste ("The Ballerina without breasts") and/or one was done (or directed by) Chris Pretorius and entitled Ballerina Sonder Borste ("Ballerina without breasts"). [This needs to be clarified]

Performance history in South Africa

1958: Performed as The Bald Prima Donna by the University of Cape Town's University Dramatic Society in June, directed by A. Chiat and Percy Sieff.

1964: Die Kaalkop Prima Donna was performed as part of a double bill entitled 2+2=5 with Tweede Viool by KRUIK under the direction of Jannie Gildenhuys, starring Limpie Basson (Mnr Smith), Wilma Stockenström (Mev Smith), Marie Pentz (Mary), Ernst Eloff (Mnr Martin), Cynthia Dekker (Mev Martin) and Pieter Bredenkamp (Kaptein van die Brandweer).

Circa 1966-1970: Die Kaalkop Primadonna was performed in the H.B. Thom Theatre, Stellenbosch, by drama students, directed by Joan Helen Roux for examination purposes. The performance was done some time in in September.

1979: Performed as The Bald Prima Donna in The Laager at the Market Theatre in April. Directed by Ian Steadman, with Vanessa Cooke, Frantz Dobrowsky, Alan Goldstein, Janet Maclaren and Michael Richard.

1981: Ballerina Sonder Borste was directed by Chris Pretorius at the Baxter Studio in January.

1987: Die Kaalkop Prima Donna was presented as part of a double bill with Ek is Herman at the UCT Arena Theatre by the University of Cape Town Drama Department under the direction of Shirley Ellis, opening 28 August 1987, with Michelle Scott, Dickie Geldenhuys, Deirdre Wolhuter, Nan Hamilton, James van Helsdingen and Nico de Beer. Stage managers Cheryl Braaf, Irit Knobel and Vanessa Levenstein, lighting design by Kevin Yates.


Supplement to The Argus, 2 December 1980. (re Baxter production 1981).

Theatre programme, 1987.

Typed text of Die Kaalkop Prima Donna (Stellenbosch University Drama Department archive).

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