Twelfth Night, or What You Will

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Twelfth Night, or What You Will [1] is a comedy by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)[2].

Most often referred to simply as Twelfth Night.

The original text

First performed c1601. Perhaps the most popular Shakespeare play in South African theatre, certainly performed more than any other in the 19th century. (???***)

Translations and adaptations

Translated by Uys Krige into Afrikaans, as Twaalfde Nag, commissioned by PACT. (HAUM, 1967).

Translated into Xhosa as Ubusuku beshum' elinambini : mhlawumbi oko ukholwa kuko by B.B. Mdledle in 1959.

Performance history in South Africa

1790s: First recorded South African performance in the Military Barracks in Cape Town.

1895-6: Performed by the Holloway Theatre Company, under the auspices of the Wheeler Theatre Company theatre company as part of a season of plays which opened in the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg on the 26th December with Othello. The company was composed of William J. Holloway, Leonard Rayne, Gerald Lawrence, Amy Grace, John Nesbitt, William Haviland and Amy Coleridge. The company also played other cities, including the Opera House, Cape Town, for a season that opened in May 1896.

1941: Produced by Marda Vanne in the Hofmeyr Hall and at the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg, in 1941, also playing Maria. With Gwen ffrangçon-Davies (Olivia), Lydia Lindeque (Viola), Cecil Williams (Orsino). Settings by Basil South. Music composed or arrangend by Percival Kirby and recorded in Johannesburg.

1946: A production by students of the University of the Witwatersrand was directed by Dighton Stammers.

1949: Leonard Schach directed the Cape Town Repertory Theatre Society for the opening of the Labia Theatre from 23 May to 4 June. Decor and costumes were by Dorrit Dekk. In the cast were Joyce Bradley, Dorothy Felbert, Gavin Haughton, Cecil Jubber, Ken Taylor.

1953: Performed professionally in English by National Theatre Organisation and taken on a National tour. Directed by Leonard Schach, with Gerrit Wessels, Siegfried Mynhardt, Frank Wise, Alan Chadwick, Edna Jacobson, Roma Reilly, Aedwyn Darroll, Vivienne Drummond, Michael Perry, Pieter Geldenhuys, David Ritch, Barry Lategan, Timothy Spring. Decor and costumes were by Frank Graves.

1959: Presented by East London Technical College Drama Club at the John Bisseker Hall, produced by Mary Howe.

1964: Performed by PACT in Afrikaans as Twaalfde Nag, using the commissioned translation by Uys Krige. It opened on 11 August, directed by Leonard Schach assisted by Leonora Nel with Dawid van der Walt, John Engelbrecht, Pieter Geldenhuys, Lourens Odendaal, Kita Redelinghuys, Japie van Niekerk, Cobus Rossouw, Marius Weyers, James Norval, Marga van Rooy, Joan Brink, Roelf Laubscher, William Egan, Salomi Louw, Paddy Norval, Francois Swart and Louis van Niekerk. Decor designed by Graham Brown, costumes designed by Margaret Louttit.

1967: Directed by Beth Dickerson.

1969: Presented by CAPAB at the Hofmeyr Theatre, directed by Michael Atkinson, August 1969, starring himself (Orsino), Ken Leach (Curio), Glynn Day (Valentine), Brian Kennedy (1st Officer), Roger Dwyer (2nd Officer & Sea Captain), Frank Laubscher (3rd Officer), Lyn Hooker (Viola), Elliot Playfair (Priest), Valerie Fletcher (Olivia), Gillian Garlick (Lady in waiting), Margaret Heale (Maria), Pieter Geldenhuys (Sir Toby Belch), Jeff Smith (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Will Bernard (Feste), Ralph Lawson (Sebastian), Wilson Dunster (Fabian), Bernard Brown (Malvolio), Paul Fosbery (Antonio) and others. Set designed by Raimond Schoop, costumes designed by Chris van den Berg, stage manager Brian Kennedy, lighting devised by Scott Robertson. Music and songs arranged by Michael Tuffin.

1970: Staged by the Theatre Workshop Company in Durban, directed by Pieter Scholtz, with himself (Orsino), Gillian Lomberg (Viola), Dennis Schauffer (Malvolio), Nerissa Holdcroft (Olivia), Joseph Ribeiro (Feste), Ann Wakefield (Maria), Phillip Boucher (Sir Toby Belch), Roger Orton (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Mervyn Podmore (Curio & Priest), Michael Finlay (Valentine), Edwin Winship (A Sea Captain), Garry Gordon (Gentleman), Robert Gordon (Fabian), David Ritchie (Antonio), Michael Roland (Sebastian), Colin Stansell (1st Officer), Keith Humphrey (2nd Officer) and Jeremy Hurley (Servant). Costumes by Tom Owen.

1974: Staged by The Company at the Blue Fox, Johannesburg, directed by Janice Honeyman, with a cast including Lindsay Reardon, Jon Ossher, David Eppel, Danny Keogh, Ron Smerczak, Jud Cornell, Vanessa Cooke, Aletta Bezuidenhout and Sue Kiel. Music by John Oakley-Smith. An innovative production, using a set consisting only of two cushions, two deck chairs and a green carpet with a hole in it.

1975: Performed in Afrikaans as Twaalfde Nag by CAPAB at the Nico Malan Theatre, opening on 29 September. Directed by Cobus Rossouw, assisted by Sandra Kotzé, with Nic de Jager, Regardt van den Bergh, Allan Dyssel, Jana Cilliers, André Rossouw, Fanie Bekker, Sandra Kotzé, Pierre van Pletzen, Mees Xteen, Liz Dick, Pieter Joubert, Pieter Geldenhuys, Marcel van Heerden, Neels Coetzee, Louise Mollett-Prinsloo, Jan Prinsloo, Ralph van Pletzen and Gavin Power. Decor and costumes by Chris van den Berg, lighting by Pieter de Swardt, music by Michael Tuffin. This production opened at the H.B. Thom Theatre in Stellenbosch on 21 October 1975.

1977: Directed by David Horner for SODA.

1978 Performed at Maynardville, directed by including Roy Sargeant, with Jana Cilliers, Helen Bourne, Evelyn Dalberg, Roger Dwyer, John Whiteley, Raymond Daniel, Davies Davies, John Burch, Joseph Ribeiro, Blaise Koch, Philip Godawa]], Andrew Buckland,Richard Luyr,Bruce Young, Derek Peel, Pieter Geldenhuys, Murray Steyn, Fiona Stuart-White, Libby Aitchison and Neville Thomas. Decor Ken Robinson, Costumes Jennifer Craig, Lighting Brian Kennedy, Music by Michael Tuffin.

1980: A pop/ rock Bloemfontein Shakespeare Circle production of Twelfth Night was directed by Marlene Kotzen, with John Rodgers as Feste, Lindsay Reardon as Orsino and Reza de Wet as Viola, at the Civic Theatre, Bloemfontein.

1981: Twaalfde Nag, the Krige Afrikaans translation was staged by PACT, directed by Francois Swart (assisted by William Egan), with Louis van Niekerk (Orsino), Rika Sennett (Olivia), Sandra Prinsloo (Viola), Carel Trichardt (Sir Tobie), Pierre van Pletzen (Sir Andries), Franz Marx (Malvolio), Don Lamprecht (Feste), Amor Tredoux (Maria), Etienne Puren (Sebastian), Ben Kruger (Antonio), Eric Nobbs (Seekaptein), Klasie Coetzee (Fabio), Johan Blignaut (Priester), Richard van der Westhuizen (Valentino), Johan Engelbrecht (Dienskneg & Digter), Nico Liebenberg (Curio), Trudi Lamprecht (Hofdame), Kritch Krook (Matroos), Alida Theron (Hofdame), Schalk Schoombie (Matroos), Richard Carlsson (Musikant), Graham Weir (Matroos), Laurence Lurie (Sint Nikolaas) and Ronny Belcher (Swarte Piet). Decor and costumes by Gloria Lovegrove.

1984: Twaalfde Nag, the Krige Afrikaans translation, was produced by PACOFS at the National Festival of the Arts in Grahamstown in 1984 under the direction of Truida Louw with Nico Liebenberg, Christo Compion, Franz Grabe, Anita de Jager, Danie Burger, Marko van der Colff, Johan Malherbe, Hélène Truter, Bill Curry, Mary Dreyer, Pierre van Pletzen, Blaise Koch, Christo Potgieter, Hugo Taljaard, Danie Burger, and others. Decor by Johan Badenhorst, costumes by James Parker.

1988: Directed by Joseph Ribiero at the Wits Theatre for SODA. 1988: Directed: Clare Stopford. Cast : Peter Butler, Geoffrey Matentji, Carlo Radebe, Esmeralda Bihl, Bo Petersen, Langley Kirkwood, Coco Merckel, Gavin van den Berg, June von Merch, Kurt Wustmann, Ivan D Lucas, Isadora Verwey, David Dennis, Terence Bridgett, Enrico Daniels, Rehana Hendricks, Ali Makwela, Reuben Mogase, Lebogang Mokoena, Niezaam Naidoo, Zaytoon Shamsodien, Ouma Tshepe.

1989: Maynardville directed by Keith Grenville starring Ralph Lawson, Pauline O'Kelly, Don Maguire/David Muller (alternating as a sea captain), André Roothman, Timothy Mahoney, Peter Butler, Phillip Boucher, Fiona Coyne, David Alcock, Bo Petersen, James Irwin, Willie Fritz, Edward Turner, Royston Stoffels/John Dennison, Carsten Rieger, André Samuels, Toni Mitchell, Theo Vilakazi, Ivan Abrahams. Designed by Peter Cazalet, lighting by Malcolm Hurrell, music by Péter Louis van Dijk. This production was also seen at the Oude Libertas Theatre.

1990: Directed by Christopher Weare at the Little Theatre, opening 1 September 1990.

1991: Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre production directed by Pieter Scholtz, designed by Patti Slavin, staged at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

1993: CAPAB presented Twelfth Night, a Helen Mann Production for The Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival at the Mannville Open-Air Theatre from February 11-27, with guest actor, Pete Kruger as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Also starring Robert Stewart (Orsino, Duke of Illyria), Petro Mocke (Valentine), Kevin Hughes (Curio), Aileen Berry (Viola, a shipwrecked lady, later disguised as Cesario), Johnny Steyn (Sebastian, her twin brother), Matt Thurley (Captain of the wrecked ship), Cliff Barnard (another sea captain), Lesley Harper (Olivia, a countess), Linda-Louise Swain (Maria), Jeremy Baylis (Sir Toby Belch), Brett Adkins (Malvolio), Geoff Day (a member of Olivia's household), Grant Almirall (Feste, Olivia's jester), Dennis Slattery (a Priest), and Matt Thurley (Officer), Tremaine Doorly-Jones (Lady of Olivia’s Court) and Nicola Hughes (Lady of Olivia’s Court).

1993: Directed by Jerry Mofokeng at the Wits Theatre for SODA.

1998: Presented at Maynardville, directed by Clare Stopford, starring Peter Butler, Michele Burgers, Bo Petersen, Langley Kirkwood, Gavin van den Berg, June van Merch, Kurt Wustmann, David Dennis, Ivan D. Lucas, Lee-Ann van Rooi, Terence Bridgett, David Isaacs, Akin Omotoso, Emile Serfontein, Nomzamo Sishuba, Jackson Vuka. Designer Peter Cazalet, lighting designer Malcolm Hurrell, music composition David Kramer, choreography Alfred Hinkel.

1998: Staged at the Market Theatre, 6 May - 6 June starring Esmeralda Bihl, Terence Bridgett, Coco Merckel, Peter Butler, David Dennis, Langley Kirkwood, Ivan D. Lucas, Geoffrey Matentji, Erica Petersen, Carlo Radebe, June van Merch, Isadora Verwey, Gavin van den Berg, Kurt Wustmann and others.

2005: A notable multiracial production of the Uys Krige Afrikaans text was done by Janice Honeyman at the Oude Libertas Theatre in Stellenbosch, KKNK and Baxter Theatre in 2005, featuring i.a. Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Marius Weyers, Peter Butler, Chris van Niekerk, Jeroen Kranenburg, Quanita Adams, Royston Stoffels, Ivan Abrahams, Gustave Pohl, Bea Claasen, Willem Breedt and Shaun Arnolds. The crew included Patrick Curtis (producti on manager and set design), Neville Engelbrecht (stage manager), Wilhelm Conradie (assistant stage manager), Mannie Manim (lighting design), Birrie le Roux (costume design) and Koos Marais (wardrobe),

2006: Produced at Maynardville, Cape Town, directed by Geoffrey Hyland

2023: Performed for a limited run from 5 to 15 July at The Masque in Muizenberg, Cape Town, directed by Barbara Basel, with a cast that includes Wayne Ronne as Duke Orsino, Tami Schrire as Lady Olivia, Hannah Molyneux as Feste the fool, and Kathryn Griffiths as Maria. This production, set in 1920s Germany and the opulent Weimar Republic, was three years in the making, having initially been planned for 2020, before the Covid-19 lockdown.


D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.404

Trek 26 September 1941, 19.

Helikon, 2(9):19-21.

Inskip, 1977. p 119, 120, 126.

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988.

Twelfth Night theatre programme, CAPAB 1969.

Theatre Workshop Company theatre programme, 1970.

Twaalfde Nag theatre programme, 1975.

W.E.G. Louw 1978. "Uitvlug uit ons eeu" Burger, 4 January 1978.

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

PACT Twaalfde Nag theatre programme, 1981.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

The Company theatre programme (undated).

Press clippings held by NELM (1980 production, Bloemfontein): [Collection: DICKERSON, Beth]: 2009. 118. 6. 24.

Theatre programme (1991 production) held by NELM: [Collection: KORT, Maurice]: 2012. 379. 38. 20.

Wilhelm Conradie's ASM prompt copy for the 2005 production of Twaalfde Nag, found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archive in 2022.

Arts Theatre Club archive held by George Mountjoy.

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