Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The original text
A play about two married couples, one twenty years older and more bitter than the other, who engage in an evening of games of merciless personal attack.
Opened on Broadway at the Billy Rose Theater on October 13, 1962. The original cast featured Uta Hagen as Martha, Arthur Hill as George, Melinda Dillon as Honey and George Grizzard as Nick. It was directed by Alan Schneider. Subsequent cast members included Henderson Forsythe, Eileen Fulton, Mercedes McCambridge, and Elaine Stritch.
The play won both the 1963 Tony Award for Best Play and the 1962–63 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play. Its stars won the 1963 Tony Awards for Best Actor and Actress as well. It was also selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Drama by that award's drama jury. However, the award's advisory board—the trustees of Columbia University—objected to the play's then-controversial use of profanity and sexual themes, and overruled the award's advisory committee, awarding no Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1963.
In 1966 made into an iconic and controversial film directed by Mike Nichols which starred Elizabeth Taylor as Martha, Richard Burton as George, George Segal as Nick and Sandy Dennis as Honey.
Translations and adaptations
South African productions
1963: First produced in South Africa by Taubie Kushlick, though it was subject to textual emendations before being allowed to be staged. Starred American actors Jerome Kilty, Cavada Humphrey and Fred Sadoff, and English actress Karal Gardner (sic in Tucker, 1997). It was set to play at the Port Elizabeth City Hall, an Indian theatre in Durban and the Wits University Great Hall in Johannesburg, but controversy over the blasphemous language saw an early close for the production.
September 1985: Presented by the Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival and assisted by CAPAB in association with the Department of Education, at the Port Elizabeth Opera House. Produced by Helen Mann. Starring Trevor Hicks (George), Diane Cohen (Martha), Ian Liston (Nick), and Linda-Louise Swain (Honey).
1990: Presented by CAPAB Drama 29 June to 21 July, directed by Keith Grenville, designer Birrie le Roux, lighting designer John T. Baker. The cast: Christine Basson (Martha), Michael McGovern (George), Blaise Koch ((Nick), Elma van Wijk (Honey).
2007: Produced by the Baxter Theatre, directed by Janice Honeyman with Fiona Ramsay, Sean Taylor, Nicholas Pauling and Erica Wessels. Set designed by Norman Coates. This production was staged at the National Arts Festival.
2013: Produced in Afrikaans as Wie's Bang vir Virginia Woolf? by Saartjie Botha at the Aardklop festival from 24 to 28 September, directed by Christiaan Olwagen with Sandra Prinsloo, André Jacobs, Wessel Pretorius en Greta Pietersen. The design team included Birrie le Roux (costumes), Jaco Bouwer (set) and Pieter-Jan Kapp (lights). The play once more gave rise to protests about the blasphemy and language inherent in the piece.
2014: Produced in Afrikaans as Wie's Bang vir Virginia Woolf? by Saartjie Botha at the KKNK national arts festival in Oudtshoorn, directed by Christiaan Olwagen, with Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers, Wessel Pretorius and Greta Pietersen. The design team included Birrie le Roux (costumes), Jaco Bouwer (set), Wolf Britz (lights) and Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (sound).
2015: Produced in Afrikaans as Wie's Bang vir Virginia Woolf? by Saartjie Botha at the Afrikaanse Woordfees national arts festival in Stellenbosch and the Fugard Theatre, Cape Town. Directed by Christiaan Olwagen, with Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers, Wessel Pretorius and Greta Pietersen. The design team included Birrie le Roux (costumes), Jaco Bouwer (set), Wolf Britz (lights) and Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (sound).
Percy Tucker. 1997. Just the Ticket. My 50 Years in Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.
Theatre programme (CAPAB 1990).
Sunday Independent, 8 July 2007.
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