Les Nègres

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Les Nègres ("The Negroes"/"The blacks") can refer to any one of two French plays:

Neither of these to be confused with De Negers ("The Negroes") a Dutch translation of a play by Von Kotzebue (1796)

Les Nègres ("The Negroes") A comedy in one act and in prose by Edme-Louis Billardon de Sauvigny (1738-1812)[1]

The original text

Performed "A L'Occasion De La Paix" ("Peace of Paris") in 1783. Published by the author, 1783.

Performances in South Africa

1804: There is a slight possibility that this may have been the play performed in the original French under the title Les trois Africaines by Het Fransche Liefhebbery Geselschap ("The French Amateur Company"), on 23 June 1804 (with Le Médecin Malgré Lui). The source for the 1804 production, F.C.L. Bosman (1928, p.90), unfortunately provides no details about the author or of the play's contents.

See Les Trois Africaines.


Text of Les Nègres, Google Books[2]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [3]: pp. 90

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Les Nègres ("The negroes" or "The blacks"). A French play by Jean Genet (1910-1986)[4]

The original text

Published in 1958, subtitled a "clownerie", it was first performed in a production directed by Roger Blin at the Théatre de Lutèce in Paris, which opened on 28 October 1959.

Translations and adaptations

Translated from the French as The Blacks by Bernard Frechtman. Published in English by Faber and Faber, 1967.

Performance history in South Africa

1963: Performed for an extended run at the Masque Theatre

1968: Performed with Genet's permission (obtained at the behest of Albert Thomas) by a group belonging the Union of South African Artists, directed by Charlotte du Toit at the Claremont Civic Centre. The cast included John Ramsdale as the "valet". The production only had one full performance before it was stopped at the second performance by the state security police.

1989: Presented by PACT at the 1989 National Arts Festival directed by Dieter Reible assisted by Alan Swerdlow. Designer Chris van den Berg, lighting designers Jane Gosnell and Dieter Reible. The cast: Peter Se-Puma, Soli Philander, Bill Curry, Nomhle Nkonyeni, Noria Mabuela, Margaret Williams, Tshidi Mochaki, Nomsa Nene, Kurt Egelhof, Norman Ntsiko, Samson Khumalo, Dan Sebogodi, Fats Bookholane.

2001: An English translation by Robert David MacDonald opened in a co-production by the Market Theatre and the Stockholm City Theatre at the Grahamstown Festival in June 2001, under the direction of visiting directors Martin Duncan and Ultz, with the following cast: Nthati Moshesh (the Queen), Sean Leon (the footman), Fezile Mpela (the governor), Kenneth Nkosi (the judge), William Ddumba (the missionary), Richard Sseruwagi/Mpho Molepo (Mr Wellington), Rapulana Seiphemo (Mr Village), Maria Salah (Miss Bobo), Lebogang Elephant (Mr Amistad), Thandi Monageng (Mrs Snow), Connie Mfuku (Mrs Slut), Motshabi Tyelele (Miss Stephanie) and Stephen Lwanga (Mr Samba). This production moved to the Market Theatre in Johannesburg in July and was also staged in Sweden and other European countries later in the year.




A press clipping announcing an extended run of Jean Genet's The Blacks at the Masque Theatre in 1963 (Source: NELM: Collection: FLETCHER, Jill]: 2005. 75. 21. 3.)

The Blacks theatre programmes.

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Artslink, 7 July 2001.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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