The Story of an African Farm

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The Story of an African Farm [1] is an 1883 novel by South African author Olive Schreiner (1855-1920).

The original text

The novel details the lives of three characters, first as children and then as adults – Waldo, Em and Lyndall – who live on a farm in the Karoo region of South Africa. The story is set in the middle- to late-nineteenth century – the First Boer War is alluded to, but not mentioned by name. The book is semi-autobiographical: in particular, the two principal protagonists (Waldo and Lyndall) display strong similarities to Schreiner's life and philosophy. The book was first published in 1883 in London, under the pseudonym Ralph Iron. It quickly became a best-seller, despite causing some controversy over its frank portrayal of freethought, feminism, premarital sex and pregnancy out of wedlock, and transvestitism. (Wikipedia [2])

Translations and adaptations

Adaptated for the stage by André P. Brink as a play, The Story of an African Farm.

Adapted for the stage by James Ambrose Brown. Script held by NELM: [Collection: SIMON, Barney]: 1995. 11. 1. 24

Performance history in South Africa

1975: First performed in the original Arena Theatre (a converted rehearsal room) at the Nico Malan Theatre on 28 October 1975, directed by Rosalie van der Gucht with Dugald Thomson, Nicholas Ellenbogen, Lois Butlin, John Whiteley and Dawie Ackerman amongst others in the cast. The production was sold out and led to renewed interest in the works of Olive Schreiner.

1975: The André P. Brink adaptation was staged by PACT, directed by Ken Leach, with Annelisa Weiland (Olive Schreiner/Lyndall), Errol Ross (Julius Gau/Stranger), Beryl Ellis (Mrs Fouche/Tant Sannie), Diane Wilson (Rebecca Schreiner/Landlady), Norman Coombes (Gottlob Schreiner/Otto), Dorothy Gould (Ettie/Em), Frantz Dobrowsky (Waldo), Michael Mayer (Bonaparte Blenkins), Nigel Daly (Gregory Rose) and Denis Bettesworth (Piet van der Walt). Decor by Richard Cook and costumes by Frances Michaletos.

1988: An amateur production was directed by Garth Anderson, Cygnet Theatre, Pietermaritzburg.

Produced by the Theatre Workshop Company, date unknown.

Sources

PACT theatre programme, 1975.

The Natal Witness, 15 April 1988.

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