My Poor Marat

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My Poor Marat is a Russian play by Aleksei Arbuzov (1908-1986)[1].

The original text

Originally titled Мой бедный Марат, it is a play about the lives and loves of three teenagers during the savage 1942 winter siege of Leningrad, as the Russians fight off the Nazi invaders. It was first produced in Russia in 1965, where it was staged in 66 theatres and ran for 1,636 performances.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English under the title The Promise in 1965 by British translator Ariadne Nicolaeff. The first production was staged at the Oxford Playhouse in London on 21 November 1966, directed by Frank Hauser, with Judy Dench, Ian McShane and Ian McKellen.

Translated into Afrikaans, under the title Arme Marat by Dawid Engela in 1968. This translation, done from the German (Mein Armer Marat), and is therefore sometimes labelled My Arme Marat. (Available at Dalro,

Translated into English under the title My Poor Marat in 1993 by American translator Angelina Bulbenko.

Translated into English under the title My Poor Marat in 2013 by American translator Oleg Ivanov.

The Promise was translated into Afrikaans as Die Belofte in 1976.

Performance history in South Africa

1967: The Promise, the Nicolaeff translation, was first produced in South Africa by Pieter Toerien and Basil Rubin at the Brooke Theatre in Johannesburg. It starred English actor Andrew Ray (Leonidik), John Fraser (Marat) and British actress Olive McFarland [2] (Lika) (1929-2011), directed by Leonard Schach. Decor by Raimond Schoop.

1968: The same Pieter Toerien production of The Promise was staged in the Labia Theatre in Cape Town from 29 May.

1968: The Engela translation performed in Afrikaans as Arme Marat by CAPAB, directed by Mavis Taylor, with Katinka Heyns (Lika), Pieter Fourie (Marat) and Cobus Rossouw (Leonidik). Costumes by Mavis Taylor, decor by Pieter Benade, props by Bryonie Salisbury with stage management by Pieter de Swardt and Paddy McClelland. The production opened in the H.B. Thom Theatre in Stellenbosch on 18 May, playing there on 20 and 21 May as well, in the City Hall, Paarl on the 22nd and the Bellville Civic Theatre on 24th and 25th May. Then followed a run in the Hofmeyr Theatre in Cape Town from 27 May to 8 June, before the cast undertook a tour of 16 other towns in the Cape Province: Ashton (Town Hall 10 June), Worcester (Vallei-Kerksaal, 11 June), Ceres (Town Hall 12 June), Tulbach (Town Hall 13 June), Moorreesburg (Town Hall 14 June), Villiersdorp (Kerksaal 17 June), Swellendam (Town Hall, 18 June), Riversdal (Town Hall, 19 June), Heidelberg (High School Hall, 20 June), Knysna (Town Hall, 21 June), Humansdorp (Kerksaal 22 June), Joubertina (Kerksaal 24 June), George (Civic Centre, June 26 June), Oudtshoorn (Civic Centre, June 27 June), Mosselbaai (Kerksaal 28 June) and Ladismith (Kerksaal 29 June).

1972: The Engela translation was presented by PACT, under the title Arme Marat, directed by Truida Louw, with Marie Koeleman, Jan Engelen and David van der Merwe.

1976: A touring production by CAPAB, under the Afrikaans title Die Belofte, was directed by Schalk Jacobsz with Sandra Ferreira, Blaise Koch, and Allan Deysel. Fitz Morley was the company manager and Billy de la Querra the Assistant Stage Manager. The three-month tour took place in the Western and Eastern Cape region.

1990: Performed as My Arme Marat by PACOFS, with Dorette Nel, Cobus de Villiers and James van Helsdingen.


Teater SA, 1(1), 1968.

Photograph - NELM Manuscripts - [Collection: FLETCHER, Jill]: 2005. 75. 19. 50).). Pieter Toerien and Basil Rubin theatre programme, 1967.

CAPAB theatre programme, 1968.

PACT Newsletter, July 1972.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Inskip, 1977. p 127.

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