La Folle de Chaillot

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La Folle de Chaillot ("The madwoman of Chaillot") is a poetic satire by French dramatist Jean Giraudoux,

The original text

The play has two acts and follows the convention of the classical unities. The story concerns an eccentric woman who lives in Paris and her struggles against the straitlaced authority figures in her life.

Written during the German Occupation of Paris in 1943, it was not performed until after his death in 1944. The première was on 19 December 1945 in Paris at the Théâtre de l'Athénée in a production by Giraudoux's frequent collaborator, actor and theatre director Louis Jouvet with Marguerite Moreno in the lead. It was she who had been the inspiration for the piece.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English as The Madwoman of Chaillot by Maurice Valency. First performed at the Belasco and Bernard B. Jacobs theatres on Broadway in 1948. It ran from December 1948 to January 1950 and featured Martita Hunt (playing the role of the Madwoman for over 350 performances and winning a 1949 Tony Award for her performance), and John Carradine as The Ragpicker

Translated from the French into Afrikaans as Die Mal Vrou van Chaillot by Rita Elferink in 1977.

Performance history in South Africa

1951: The first South African production in English as The Madwoman of Chaillot was by the Little Theatre Players at the Little Theatre in Cape Town in October 1951, with a cast that included Haidee Cassell, Dorothy Nettlefold, Zandberg Jansen, Geoffrey Barry, Connie Dix-Hart, Donald Inskip, Diana Lazar, Audrey Pearce, Percy Sieff. Decor by Cecil Pym.

1952: Performed by the Johannesburg Reps, directed by Leonard Schach in 1952, starring Haidee Cassell as "Countess Aurelia", Ivy Collins, Johann Nell, Valerie Philip, Shirley Wakefield, Ronald Wallace, Basil Warner. Decor was by Len Grossett and costumes by Louis Jacobson.

1977: Performed in Afrikaans by the Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch (UTS) as Die Mal Vrou van Chaillot, premièring in the H.B. Thom Theatre during May. Directed by Ria Olivier, with Herman Pretorius (Die Direkteur), Johan Naudé (Die Baron), Solly Oosthuizen (Marital), Jannie Hofmeyr (Claude), Charmaine Potgieter (Syrille), Johann van Heerden (Victor, die Vodderaper), Kobus Geldenhuys (Jean-Jacques), Tammy Alberts (Irma), Niel le Roux (Skoenveterverkoper), Gerrit Snyman (Die Makelaar), Chris van Jaarsveld (Aandeelhouer), Jan le Roux (Losbol), Ronny Belcher (Prospekteerder), Jeannette Roussouw (Aurelie, Mal Vrou van Chaillot), Peter de Villiers (Die Bode), Fred le Roux (Dr. Jadin), Dawid Minnaar (Lewensredder), Wouter Struwig (Pierre), Johan J. Fourie (Konstabel), Van Rooyen Terblanche (Nare Man), Emile Aucamp (Mnr. Florian), Margaret Fölscher (Mal Vrou van Passy), Elmarie Kritzinger (Mal Vrou van St. Sulpice), Joan-Helen Dry (Mal Vrou van La Concorde) and Thierry Delameilleure, Louié Loots, Davida Day, Rachelle Greeff, Leona Rich, Arina van Zyl, Mari Hauptfleisch, Susan Coetzer, Kathy Beard, CIA Lewis, Morlette Lindsay, Heide-Marie Rossocha, Marlinda Vermeulen, Gaby Wengrove, Paul Marais, Pierre Rommelaere, Hardus Rust. Costumes by Elaine Aucamp, lighting by Emile Aucamp and masurkas composed by Hubert du Plessis.

1985: The Madwoman of Chaillot presented by students of the University of Cape Town Drama Department at the Little Theatre, directed by Mavis Taylor in September 1985


Undated clipping from Die Burger found in a scrapbook dated 1951, prepared by Sophie Snyman, student in Speech and Drama at the University of Stellenbosch.

Photographs of Percy Sieff and the cast of the production of The Madwoman of Chaillot by Jean Giradeaux, produced by Leonard Schach at the Little Theatre, Cape Town, on 20 October 1951, including Helen Houghton, Dudley Davies, Haidee Cassel, Paul Vierya, Brian Proudfoot, Donald Inskip, Hudson Clausen, Diana Lazar, John Kerr, Petal du Toit, Frances Barry, Beronese Mann, Zandberg Jansen and Melvin Simmers. NELM: Photograph collection [Collection: SIEFF, Percy]: 2013. 25. 2. 38.

UTS theatre programme, May 1977.

Inskip, 1977. p 118, 120.

Little Theatre programme, 1985.

Go to ESAT Bibliography.

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