The Cure

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The Cure is the name given to two plays performed in South Africa

The Cure by an unknown author

The original text

If F.C.L. Bosman (1980, pp 131, 161) is to be believed, this is most likely to be a reference to A Perfect Cure, a little known play in one act by William Sapte, Jr. (fl. late 1800s), which was apparently performed in Cape Town by Clara Tellett (fl. mid 19th century) under both titles in 1862. Bosman possibly took this information from adverts, reviews or the acting Clara Tellett's company's documentation, but there is some doubt about the veracity of the information, for the sources consulted seem to suggest that the play in question may only date from the 1890s. The likely answer is that the play performed was actually the better known play called A Cure for the Heartache (Morton).

It is possible that may actually be a renamed/wrongly named (and shortened?) version of A Cure for the Heartache a comedy, in five acts by Thomas Morton (1764-1838)[1]. First performed at the Theatre-Royal, Covent-Garden on 10 January 1797 and printed by P. Wogan,1797, it was vastly popular in Cape Town over the course of the 19th century.

However, it could also be a version of any other of the numerous plays containing the terms "the cure" or "a cure" written in the 19th century. A possibility for example would be Kill or Cure, a popular farce in one act by Charles Dance (1794-1863)[2], first performed at the Olympic theatre, Monday, October 29th, 1832 and published in London by J. Miller, 1834.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1862: Performed as The Cure (author unnamed) in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town on 23 September by the jointly as the Cape Town and Royal Alfred Dramatic Club, with Still Waters Run Deep (Taylor), the latter play performed by the Cape Town Dramatic Club alone.


F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 162

The Cure by Athol Fugard and the Serpent Players (1968)

The original text

An adaptation of La Mandragola by Niccolò Machiavelli, with the text adapted by Fugard and further improvised by the newly formed Serpent Players, the action being moved to a township setting in the Eastern Cape. Rehearsals were held in the snake pit in the old museum building in Bird Street, Port Elizabeth.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

Circa 1962: The play was the company's first production, done in in a room in the old museum building in Bird Street, Port Elizabeth.

1970: Performed by the Serpent Players on tour as a double bill with Friday's Bread on Monday, inter alia playing in the St Stephen's Church Hall, Port Elizabeth.

1971: Performed by the Serpent Players, including John Kani, Winston Ntshona and Nomhle Nkonyeni in Grahamstown in September 1971


NELM catalogue.

EP Herald, 6 June 2006.

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