Try for White

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Try for White is a play by Basil Warner (19**-2004).

The original text

A play about miscegenation and the effects of this has on the families involved. The text was never formally published till 2003 (see below) and an unpublished manuscript is housed with NELM in Grahamstown.

A prompt text used by the original stage manager, Paddy Canavan, was edited by Petrus du Preez and Edwin Hees and published in the South African Theatre Journal, 17:1, 284-371, 2003.

Translations and adaptations

On 18 April 1965 the BBC transmitted a filmed version of the play on BBC2 in a television drama anthology series called Theatre 625 [1]. The film was produced by Cedric Messina, directed by Alan Gibson [2] and the cast included: Yootha Joyce, Joss Ackland, Gary Bond, Zoe Randall, Marda Vanne, Nan Munro and Maxine Holden.

The play text was used as the basis for the screenplay by Emil Nofal and Jans Rautenbach for Katrina (1969), the controversial Afrikaans feature film, produced by Noval and directed by Rautenbach.

See Katrina

Performance history in South Africa

1959: First performed by the Cockpit Players at the Hofmeyr Theatre in Cape Town on January 17, 1959. In the cast: Jane Fenn, Walter Glennie, Marjorie Gordon, Nigel Hawthorne, Heather Lloyd-Jones, Michael McGovern, Minna Millsten, Zoë Randall, Michael Turner. It was directed by Leonard Schach and decor by Bruce Palmer. This production opened at the Pretoria Opera House in February 1959 before moving to the Intimate Theatre for the remainder of their highly successful run. It also starred Nigel Hawthorne, Marjorie Gordon, Michael Turner. Joyce Grant and Fiona Fraser replaced Minna Millsten and Heather Lloyd-Jones respectively, from the Cape Town cast.

1960: Staged by the Cockpit Players in the Alhambra Theatre in Durban in July/August, directed by Leonard Schach, with Joyce Bradley (Mrs Jane Matthews), Paddy Canavan (Mrs Wilson), Felicity Bosman (Lisa Samuels), Walter Glennie (Hockey Jagger), Stanley Walsh (Robert Matthews), Jane Fenn (Mrs Adams), Eveline Garratt (Muriel Jordan), Paul Desmond (various) and Jan Lindique (various). Settings and costumes by Bruce Palmer.


Prompt text of Try for White, South African Theatre Journal 17:1, 284-371, 2003.

Photocopy of Paddy Canavan's annotated prompt text, found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022.

Inskip, 1977. p 122

Leonard Schach Cockpit Players theatre programme, 1959/60.

Tucker, 1997. 121-2.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

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