The Importance of Being Earnest

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The Importance of Being Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)[1]

The original text

It was first performed 14 February 1895.

Performance history in South Africa

First produced in South Africa by ***

1937: Presented by the University of Cape Town’s University Dramatic Society at the Little Theatre in September, directed by Wensley Pithey.

1945: Presented by the Medical School Players at the Wits University Hall, 1945.

1949: Presented by the Little Theatre Players at the Little Theatre, Cape Town, in December, directed by René Ahrenson, starring Cecilia Sonnenberg and Geoffrey Barry, among others.

1951: Presented by East London Technical College Drama Club.

1959: Presented by the Little Theatre Players and Prentice Group at the Little Theatre in July, directed by Joyce Burch.

1963: Produced for University Theatre Stellenbosch by Fred Engelen in 1963, starring Dirk Kotzé, Pieter Grobbelaar, Fred Engelen, Lydia Theron, Estelle Knobel, Ilse Geyer, Louisa Saayman, Jocelyn de Bruyn, Cynthia Dekker.

1968: Performed in the Bloemfontein Civic Theatre by PACOFS in Afrikaans as Erns in Luim by Nerina Ferreira. Directed by Fitz Morley for PACOFS with Schalk Jacobsz as Lane and Paul Eilers as Algernon, also Rentia Human, Mees Xteen and Carmen Haddad, 1968. Taken on tour in the Free State.

1968: Produced by NAPAC starring Zoe Randall as Miss Prism.

1970-1971: Directed by Peter Curtis for CAPAB with Michael Atkinson and John Whiteley as the male leads, also starring Joan Blake, Yvonne Bryceland, Lyn Hooker, Elliot Playfair, Arthur Hall. Set designed by Raimond Schoop, costumes designed by Aubrey Couling, musical effects by Michael Tuffin. It opened at the Hofmeyr Theatre on 19 December 1970 and was a great success, even touring to Johannesburg.

197*: Performed by NAPAC in 197*, directed by Margaret Inglis, with Michael Atkinson and Nan Munro);

1982: Performed by PACT in 1982, directed by John Hussey, with Ralph Lawson, Dorothy-Ann Gould, Gabrielle Lomberg Andrew Buckland and Shelagh Holliday.

1982: A Rhodes University Drama Department production was directed by John Burch.

1988: Presented by CAPAB opening 22 March 1988 at the Nico Malan Theatre, directed by Ralph Lawson, designed by Dicky Longhurst, lighting design by Malcolm Hurrell, starring Jon Maytham, David Dennis, Don Maguire, Paul Malherbe, Richard Farmer, Michael Atkinson, Belinda Koning, Embeth Davidtz, Mollie Thompson.

1993: Presented by CAPAB Drama at the New Victoria Theatre, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, 23 March to 10 April 1993. Direction was by Ralph Lawson and the cast were Blaise Koch, Anthony Bishop, Fitz Morley, Royston Stoffels, Steven Raymond, Diane Wilson, Jana van Niekerk, Claire Watling, Zoë Randall. Set designer Eunice Pengelly-Rogers, lighting designer Malcolm Hurrell.

2001: Performed by the KickstArt theatre company at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Durban.

2014: Presented by MADS in the Masque Theatre, Muizenberg. Directed by Barbara Basel, with Mike Dewar, David Sharpe, Miranda Lewis, Sara Kate de Beer, Jane Cohen, Grace Brain, Richard Higgs en Andy Rabagliati.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Afrikaans as Erns in Luim by Nerina Ferreira. Directed by Fitz Morley for PACOFS with Schalk Jacobsz as Lane and Paul Eilers as Algernon, also Rentia Human, Mees Xteen and Carmen Haddad, 1968. Taken on tour in the Free State.

Half in Earnest, a musical, starring Taubie Kushlick, Gordon Mulholland, Shelagh Holliday, directed by Leon Gluckman, opening Monday 6 April 1959 at the Aula, decor and costumes designed by Nina Campbell-Quine.

The Importance of Being Thabo: an African adaptation by Anton Krueger of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Adapted for TV and broadcast by SABC TV in , directed by with Pamela Gien,


Inskip, 1972. p.122. (1937 production).

Inskip, 1972. p.137. (1949 production).

Listing of productions in the UTS programme for Arms and the Man, H.B. Thom Theatre, Stellenbosch, 1968 (held in ESAT Archive)

Poster of the 1963 production by UTS, Stellenbosch

Photograph - NELM Manuscripts - [Collection: FLETCHER, Jill]: 2005. 75. 19. 50

Grütter, Wilhelm, CAPAB 25 Years, 1987. Unpublished research. p 58

UTS theatre pamphlet

South African Opinion, 2(4), 1945. 24.

Teater SA, 1(1) and (2), 1968; PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988.

Theatre programmes 1970, 1988, 1993.

PACT/CAPAB theatre programme (undated).

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Arts Theatre Club archive held by George Mountjoy.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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