The Oresteia

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The Oresteia by Aeschylus. ***

The original text

Translations and adaptations


Into English

Translated by Gilbert Murray.

Into Afrikaans

Translated as Die Oresteia Trilogie by Merwe Scholtz in 1981 from the German by Walter Jens


Molora (2003)

("Molora" is a Sotho word meaning "Ash". The name is also written MoLoRa in some programmes and publicity material.)

A condensation and adaptation of the Aeshylean trilogy by Yaël Farber, which transplants the inherent death, violence, despair and loss found in the Greek original about the House of Atreus, into the milieu of post-Apartheid South Africa and traumatic yet healing period the Truth and Reconciiation Commission. Utilizing the original text, the play also introduces additional text in most of the South African languages, and a chorus of singing and dancing matriarchs, created by The Ngqoko Cultural Group from the town of Lady Frere.

The text has been published in Plays One by Oberon Books (2015). The play was originally produced by The Farber Foundry at the National Arts Festival in 2003 and opened at the Market Theatre in 2007 (cast members Dorothy-Ann Gould, Jabulile Tshabalala, and Sandile Matsheni), and would go on to play to acclaim all over the world between 2008 and 2011. It won three Naledi Awards in its opening season, (Best Play, Best Director and Best Actress).

Performance history in South Africa

1952: Performed in English as The Oresteia at the Little Theatre, Cape Town, in 1952, as part of the 21st year celebrations of the venue. Directed by Rosalie van der Gucht. Decor designed by Mavis Taylor, executed by Cecil Pym. Costumes and properties designed by Mavis Taylor, executed by her, Doreen Graves and their assistants.

1981: Directed in Afrikaans as Die Oresteia-Trilogie by Dieter Reible, for CAPAB. The cast included Wilna Snyman, Johan Malherbe, Marthinus Basson, Grethe Fox, Marga van Rooy, Neels Coetzee, David van der Merwe, Paul Lückhoff, Mitzi Booysen, Selma van der Vyver, Christo Potgieter, Brümilda van Rensburg, Marikie Basson, Heléne Coetzee, Elise Hibbert, Marko van der Colff. Decor and costumes by Raimond Schoop, lighting by Leon Benzakein.

2007: Performed as Molora at the Market Theatre in 2007 , produced by The Farber Foundry and directed by Yaël Farber, with Dorothy-Ann Gould (Klytemnestra), Jabulile Tshabalala (Elektra), Sandile Matsheni (Orestes) and The Ngqoko Cultural Group (consisting of Tsolwana. B. Mpayipheli, Tandiwe Lungisa, Nokhaya Mvotyo, Nofenishala Mvotyo, Nopasile Mvotyo, Nosomething Ntese and Nogcinile Yekani). The assistant director was Yana Sakelaris, with set design by Larry Leroux and Leigh Colombick, costume design by Natalie Lundon and Johny Matole, lighting design by Michael Maxwell and music and song arrangements by The Nqgoko Cultral Group, being Nofenishala Mvotyo, Nomaqobiso Yekani, Nopasile Mvotyo, Nokhaya Mvotyo, Nosomething Ntese, Tandiwe Lungisa, Tsolwana Mpayipheli.


Little Theatre programme, 1952.

Inskip, 1977. p 43.

Die Orestiea-Trilogie theatre programme, CAPAB 1981.

Cape Argus, 24 April 2003 (Molora, NAF production).

Photograph of the cast, Market Theatre production of Molora, 2007: CAMPBELL Location: Photograph collection [Collection: MARKET THEATRE]: 2007. 32. 9. 138. 4.

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

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