Il Re Cervo

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Il Re Cervo ("The King Stag" or "The Stag King") is an Italian Commedia dell'arte[1] play by Carlo Gozzi (1720-1806)[2].

The original text

The magical tale brings to life King Deramo, the faithful Angela who loves him, his treacherous prime minister Tartaglia, several hare-brained members of his court, a magician, a parrot, magical stags, and a giant bear. It's a fairy tale for all ages, a story of love and betrayal, intrigue and mirth, magic spells and pageantry. It is a fantastical and at times satirical look at the destructive vices of ambition, jealousy, and lust, and the power of true love to transform and transcend them all.

Translations and adaptations

The play has been adapted into English a number of times in the 20th and 21st centuries, inter alia by Stanley Vincent Longman ()[3] (as King Stag), by Sylvia Ashby in 1993 (also as The King Stag. Winner of the 1993 Anne Zorino Memorial Children’s Theatre Playwriting Award), by Eberle Thomas and Barbara Redmond (as The King Stag)[4], by Shelley Berc and Andrei Belgrader (also as The King Stag[]), by Janine Sobeck Knighton (as King Stag, 2016), and so on.

Translated into Afrikaans from an unnamed English translation as Die Hertekoning by Alwyn Swart in 1974.

Adapted as a German opera in three acts by Hans Werner Henze (1926-2012)[5], as König_Hirsch[6], first performed in a shorter version in 1956 and in a fuller Italian version in 1963.

Adapted as a Russian feature film called Король-олень (Romanized: Korol-olen), directed by Pavel Arsenov and shot at the Gorky Film Studio in 1969.[7]

Performance history in South Africa

1974: Alwyn Swart directed his own Afrikaans translation/adaptation Die Hertekoning for PACT, with Laurence Lurie (Papegaai), Kritch Krook (Cigolotti), Esther van Rensburg (Smeraldina), Ronny Belcher (Brighella), Johan Engelbrecht (Truffaldino), Peter Terry (Pantaloon), Johan Blignaut (Tartaglia), Celia Barnard (Clarissa), Richard Carlsson (Leander), Joan Metlerkamp (Angela) and Richard van der Westhuizen (Deramo).

1974: Presented as King Stag by CAPAB English Drama Company Children's Theatre at the Hofmeyr Theatre starring Marion Achber.


Present Laughter theatre programme, 1974.

PACT theatre brochure (undated)

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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