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L'Avare ("The miser") is a five-act comedy in prose by French playwright Molière (1622–1673)[1].

The original text

Originally entitled L'Avare, ou l'École du Mensonge ("The miser, or school of lying"), but usually referred to simply as L'Avare , Molière's play was inspired by Plautus's classic Latin comedy Aulularia (usually translated as "La Marmite" in French and "The Pot of Gold" in English)[2]. It was first performed on September 9, 1668, in the theatre of the Palais-Royal in Paris. Published in 1669.


There have been numerous translations and adaptations of the work into various languages.

First translated and adapted into English as The Miser by Thomas Shadwell in 1672 (who added eight new characters). Another version, with the same title and based on both Plautus and Molière, was produced by Henry Fielding in 1732.

One of the earliest Dutch adaptations appears to have been a one act play also called De Vrek by J. Pluimer in 1685. Also found are 19th century versions by J.S. van Estveldt Holtrop (1806), Taco de Beer (1863), J. Schuitemaker (1869), and of course many 20th century adaptations. There is also a Dutch version entitled Harpagon, of De Vrek.

Translated and adapted into Afrikaans as Die Vrek by A.F.H. van Dijk, published by DALRO in 1974.

Translated and adapted into Afrikaans as Die Vrek by Pieter-Paul Fourie.

Production history in South Africa

In the original French

1945: Presented in Cape Town by a company visiting the country under the auspices of the Argentinian association Cercle des Amis de la Langue Francaise[3], with Maurice Pinson as "Harpagon". Décor by André Salesse.

In Dutch

1869: What F.C.L. Bosman (1980: p. 445) calls a one act version (though surely erroneously?) attributed to Pluimer, was produced in Dutch as De Vrek by Door Yver Bloeit de Kunst in the Mutual Hall, Cape Town, on 15 September, with De Kluizenaar op Formentera (Von Kotzebue).

In English

1825: There is an indication that the amateur company Honi Soit qui Mal y Pense planned a production of the play in English in April 1825, though no specific information is available about the production. (A copy of the play was lent to the society by an unknown donor in that year.)

1964: Produced by PACT, directed by Joan Brickhill, with Siegfried Mynhardt, Louis Burke, Fiona Fraser, Phillip Boucher, Shirley Firth, Arthur Hall, Percy Steven, Angus Neill, Dawson Manning, Ronald Jameson, Ian Lawrence, Ronald Wallace and Trevor Wayne. Presented at the Alexander Theatre, National Theatre, Pretoria and then taken on tour in Transvaal and Natal, playing for twenty weeks by which time Pieter Geldenhuys had taken over the role of Master simon from Dawson Manning. Decor by Clarence Wilson, costumes by Joan Brickhill.

2012-13: Presented as part of the France – South-Africa Seasons 2012-2013, by The Baxter Theatre Centre and Fortune Cookie Theatre Company, in association with the Market Theatre, and with the support of IFAS and Alliance Française du Cap. Directed by Sylvaine Strike, with Lionel Newton Patricia Boyer, Atandwa Kani, Mpho Osei-Tutu, Jason Kennett, Kate Liquorish, William Harding,and Motlatji Ditodi. Designs by Sarah Roberts. Opening in Johannesburg at the Market Theatre (25 October- 9 December 2012), then in Cape Town at the Baxter Theatre (8 to 25 May 2013). The production won Best Production of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Patricia Boyer; Best Costume Design for Sarah Roberts and Best Director for Sylvaine Strike at the 10th annual Naledi Theatre Awards.

In Afrikaans

19**: Performed in the A.F.H. van Dijk Afrikaans translation as Die Vrek by JAATS, with Isabel Pienaar as "Elise"

1951: Performed in the A.F.H. van Dijk Afrikaans translation as Die Vrek by National Theatre Organisation, directed by Suzanne van Wyk, with Siegfried Mynhardt in the lead role and Anna Cloete as Frosine, playing for 206 nights. The cast also included Michal Grobbelaar, Gert van den Berg and Dulsie Smit. Isabel Pienaar, Enone van den Bergh, Emgee Pretorius, Jacques Loots, Anna Cloete, James Norval, Tromp Terre'Blanche, Dan Welman. Decor and costumes Ronnie Philip.

1976: The Pieter-Paul Fourie Afrikaans translation was staged as Die Vrek by PACT, directed by Francois Swart, with Franz Marx (Harpagon), Etienne Puren (Cleante), Elise Hibbert (Elise), Harriet Pienaar (Marianne), Gerben Kamper (Valere), Johan Malherbe (Anselme), Louise Mollett-Prinsloo (Frosine), Jan Prinsloo (Heer Simon & Magistraat), David van der Merwe (Jacques), John Harley (La Fleche), Annette Engelbrecht (Mev Claude), Trudie Taljaard (Brindavoine), Woutrine Theron ('n Klerk) and Gesina Roos ('n Hondjie). Decor by Richard Cook and costumes by Johan Engels and Frances Michaletos.

19**: Done in Windhoek by SWAPAC.


"The Miser" in Wikipedia[4]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [5]: pp. 297-8;

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.445,

Catalogus Der Bibliotheek Van de Maatschappij Der Nederlandsche Letterkunde Te Leiden (p. 28). Brill Archive[6]

Trek, 10(10):18, 1945.

NTO programme for Die Vrek, 1951.

Lantern, 1(3):150-151. June 1951 and 1(5):520-523.

The Miser on the the Market Theatre website[7]

PACT theatre programmes, 1964 and 1976.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

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