Ubu Roi

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Ubu Roi (Ubu the King or King Ubu) is a play by French writer Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) [1].

The original text

It was first performed in Paris at the Théâtre de l’Œuvre, causing a riotous response in the audience as it opened and closed on December 10, 1896.

Translations and adaptations

Over the years the play has been adapted and translated into many different languages [2].

Adapted and translated into English by Ben Dehaeck under the title King Ubu in 1985.

Translated into Afrikaans as Koning Oeboe by Leon Cloete in 1983.

Ubu and the Truth Commission by Jane Taylor, William Kentridge and the Handspring Puppet Company was based on this play.

Performance history in South Africa

1967: Presented by the Little Theatre Players in the Little Theatre in August, directed by Peter Kleinschmidt, stage manager Mavis Lilenstein.

1983: Presented in Afrikaans (as Koning Oeboe) by the Potchefstroom University at the National Arts Festival Student Drama. It was directed by Leon Cloete, with Christine Hoffman as stage manager. The cast: Hannes Muller, Janine Pretorius, Dion Maas, Pieter Labuschagne, Linda van Vuuren, Karen Meiring, Henry van der Hoven, Erika Willemse, De Waal Nel.

1985: King Ubu, the Dehaeck English adaptation, was staged by the Breughel Theatre Group, directed by Ben Dehaeck.

1987: Presented by CAPAB Drama in The Arena at the Nico Malan Theatre Centre Arena, directed and designed by Christopher Weare, assisted by Diane Wilson. Lighting by Malcolm Hurrell. Members of the cast were David Dennis, Marion Holm, Mark Graham, Claire Berlein, Antoinette Butler, Fiona Coyne, Susan Dall, Vinette Ebrahim or Lesley Rochat, Willie Fritz, Mark Hoeben, André Roothman, Itumeleng Wa Lehulere.

1991: Dieter Reible directed Koning Oeboe (as translated by Leon Cloete) for PACT at the Momentum Theatre Pretoria and the Adcock-Ingram Theatre, Windybrow, Johannesburg, with Antoinette Kellermann as "Ma Oeboe", Hannes Muller as "Pa Oeboe", also starring Patrick Ndlovu, Bill Curry, Nomsa Nene, Gustav Geldenhuys in various roles. Design and lighting by James MacNamara.

1991: Directed and designed by Neil McCarthy Upstairs at the Market from 12 March, with Charles Comyn, Gideon de Wet, Robert Coleman and Megan Kruskal, Louis Seboko and Motshabi Tyelele.



Inskip, Donald P., 1972. p.153.

National Arts Festival programme, 1983.

Ubu Roi theatre programme, 1987.

Koning Ubu theatre programme, 1991

Pat Schwartz 1988. The Best of Company: The Story of Johannesburg's Market Theatre. Johannesburg: Ad Donker.

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

Antoinette Kellerman's annotated performance script for the 1991 PACT production of Koning Oeboe, found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022.

PACT Info, (2), 1992.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Photograph held by NELM (Market Theatre production): [Collection: MARKET THEATRE]: 2004. 30. 5. 167.

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