The Lower Depths

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The Lower Depths (Title in Russian Na dne, 1903) by Maxim Gorki. Described by the author as "scenes from Russian life" rather than as a drama.

Translations and adaptations

Adapted by Louis van Niekerk entitled Kruispaaie, a contemporary study of the life of destitute coloureds in South Africa.

Performance history in South Africa

1942: The newly-found Unity Theatre Group staged Gorki’s Lower Depths produced by Leontine Sagan in 1942.

1955: Presented by the Peninsula Dramatic Society, produced by Albert Thomas at the Woodstock Town Hall, 2 August 1955.

1959: Produced in Johannesburg by Ricky Arden, later voted the most important production of the year by Johannesburg critics.

1965: Directed for CAPAB by the American director Robert Aden [1], it opened at the Hofmeyr Theatre on 7 April 1965. It went on an extensive tour and was eventually seen by over 7 000 people in 57 performances. The cast: Dawson Manning, Flora McKenna, John Ramsbottom, Harris Perloff, Bryan Bales, Ziona Garfield, Paddy Canavan, Johann Nell, Simon Swindell, Vaughan Scott, Alec Bell, Reinet Maasdorp, Tom Saffery, Yvonne Bryceland, Robert del Kyrke and Dale Cutts. Decor and costumes by Pamela Lewis.

August 18, 1965: The production was also staged in Port Elizabeth at ? to mark the opening of the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University).

1983: Kruispaaie was performed at the State Theatre and the Alexander Theatre, directed by Louis van Niekerk for PACT, starring Ulrich du Pont, Shaun Feldman, Dot Feldman, Leslie Fong and others


World Drama by Allardyce Nicoll. Harrap, 1949. 674.

The Forum, 5(1):18, 5(3):19, 1942.

Ring Round the Moon programme notes (about 1959 production).

Theatre programme (CAPAB), 1965.

Grütter, Wilhelm, CAPAB 25 Years, 1987. Unpublished research. p 39

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

The Rand Daily Mail, 2 September 1983.

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