Die Räuber

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Die Räuber ("The robbers") is a drama in five acts by German playwright Friedrich Schiller (1759 – 1805). (Full names: Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller)[1]

There are numerous versions of this play in a number of languages.

Original text

Schiller's first play, it was published virtually anonymously in 1781 and premiéred sensationally on 13 January 1782 in Mannheim, Germany.

Translations and adaptations

English translations

First translated as The Robbers by Alexander Fraser Tytler in 1792.

French texts

Jean-Henri-Ferdinand Lamartelière (1761-1830)[2], based his five act French play Robert, Chef de Brigands on Schiller's German play. The French version appeared in 1793 and was published as a "drame en cinq actes, en prose, imité de l'allemand, par le citoyen La Martelière" in Maradan (Paris) by Barba in 1793. Performed in Paris.

Lamartelière's version was in turn translated into Dutch and this appears to have been the most popular version in South Africa during the first half of the 19th century. (see below.)

Another French translation, by Augustin François Creuzé de Lesser, was entitled Les Voleurs and printed in 1795.

(See also Robert de Moldar, Chef de Brigands ou L’mystère d’iniquité a French novel by J.A. Gardy, published 1803[3])

Dutch text

F.C.L. Bosman (1928) speaks of a Dutch translation called De Roovers, which C.E. Boniface was looking for in 1823. (Boniface apparently used the French version eventually.)

Lamartelière's French version of the text was translated into Dutch by Pieter Gerardus Witsen Geysbeek (1774-1833)[4], and called Robert, of De Struikrovers (or on some occasions, e.g. by F.C.L. Bosman, written Robert, of De Struikroovers). Printed in Amsterdam in 1796, performed in 1797 in the Amsteldamschen Schouwburg.

Translated as De Rovers by Pé Hawinkels and performed by Zuidelijk Toneel Globe at the Schouwburg en Concertzaal, Tilburg, on 19 November 1977.[5]


The play provided the basis for a number of operatic works, including Verdi's opera I masnadieri (1848).

Performance history in South Africa

1809: The Lamartélière French version was adapted for production by Charles Etienne Boniface and performed as Robert, Chef de Brigands by Tot Nut en Vermaak in French on 24 April, in the African Theatre, along with Le Tonnelier (Audinot). Repeated on 3 June 1809, but the play now listed as "by C. Boniface".

1831: Performed by Tot Nut en Vermaak in Cape Town on 28 May in Dutch (as Robert, of De Struikroovers, translated by Geysbeek), with De Kalkoen van Breda (Van Ray).

1832: Performed by Tot Nut en Vermaak in Cape Town on 16 June in Dutch (as Robert, of De Struikroovers, translated by Geysbeek), with De Gevaarlyke Buurman (Von Kotzebue).

1847: Performed in Dutch as Robert, of De Struikroovers by the combined company, Het Privaat Hollandsch Tooneellievend Gezelschap playing under the combined motto Tot Nut en Vermaak en Door Yver Vruchtbaar, in the Hope Street Theatre, Cape Town on 8 June, with as afterpiece De Gevaarlyke Buurman (Von Kotzebue).

1873: Performed in Dutch as Robert, of De Struikrovers by De Eendracht in the Oddfellows Hall, Cape Town, on 23 October with De Kalkoen van Breda (Van Ray) as afterpiece, and interspersed with a "Saizoensdans" ("seasonal dance").

1882: Performed in Dutch as Robert, of De Struikrovers by De Eendracht in the Oddfellows Hall, Cape Town, on 5 July.






Collection Les archives de la Révolution française, Bibliothèque nationale de France [6]



Facsimile version of Gedachten na de vertoning van het door my vertaulde Tooneelspel Robert of de Struikrovers gespeeld op den Amsteldamschen Schouwburg, 1797 by Pieter Gerardus Witsen Geysbeek, Google E-Book[7]


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [8]: pp. 122-6, 171-2, 243-4, 375, 451,

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.448, 450.

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