Drie Susters Twee

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Drie Susters Twee ("Three Sisters Two") is an original full length Afrikaans play by Reza de Wet (1952–2012).

Also found as Drie Susters 2.

The original text

Written as a sequel to Anton Chekhov's[1] Russian play Three Sisters, it is set nineteen years later, on the eve of the family's final, imminent removal to Moscow. The action occurs just after the end of the Russian Revolution, so the play offers a vision of the confusions and the collapse of value systems which occur at times of revolution, and expands the themes of the original play to offer a poignant vision of dispossession at the heart of the human condition.

In writing this work, De Wet also brings in elements from other Chekhov plays, e.g. Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard.

Published by Human and Rousseau in 1996.

De Wet won a rare second, consecutive, Hertzog Prize for Afrikaans Literature for this text.

Translations and adaptations

Translated by De Wet herself as Three Sisters Two and published by Oberon Books in De Wet: A Russian Trilogy (2001), along with Yelena and On the Lake, a volume that brings together three pieces which take as their inspiration the life and work of Anton Chekhov.

According to Gordon Dickerson, De Wet's international agent, Three Sisters Two probably earned De Wet the most praise and money of all her plays outside of South Africa.

A radio version of De Wet's translation was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service in 2001.

The text has also been translated into Dutch (2000) and Czech (2002).

Dickerson mentions that it was rather surprising that, to the best of his knowledge, no one else had thought to update Chekhov’s story albeit it just to 1920. Interestingly, a few years after he had started circulating the English version of the play, a Swedish adaptation of Chekhov’s play was written which was set during the Second World War, a similar period of uncertainty about what the future would be.

Performance history in South Africa

1997: First performed at the Nico Malan Theatre in Cape Town in April by CAPAB, directed and designed by Marthinus Basson and featuring among others Aletta Bezuidenhout, Grethe Fox, Wilna Snyman, Mary Dreyer and Neels Coetzee. Winner of a number of awards, including Fleur du Cap Best Actress Award for Bezuidenhout, Fleur du Cap Best Director Award and Fleur du Cap Award for Best New Indigenous Script.

1997: Staged in the Wynand Mouton Theatre in Bloemfontein in April 1997, directed by Nico Luwes, with Stephanie Brink, Karin van der Vyver, Dorothy Dickens, Anton Welman, Welma de Beer, Izanne Bezuidenhout, Hercules Nel, Pieter Swann, Suzie Joubert.

1998: Performed in the State Theatre, opening on 15 August and directed by Marthinus Basson, with Antoinette Kellermann, Grethe Fox, Johan Malherbe, Siobhan Hodgson, Karin van der Laag, Neels Coetzee, André Stoltz, Alida Theron, Rita Ehlers.

International productions

2000: Performed in a Dutch version at Plankeniers Theatre in Bussum, Holland in November.

2002: Performed in De Wet's English translation at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, February 2002, with a cast headed by three fine actresses, Belinda Lang, Anna Cartaret and Kim Thomson.

2002: The Czech version had its premiere in May at Mestske Divadlo, Zlin.



Temple Hauptfleisch. 1993. "Die Dramaturg as Towernaar" in Trits: Mis, Mirakel en Drif. Pretoria: HAUM Literêr, 1993.

Gordon Dickerson. 2018. Personal correspondence with Temple Hauptfleisch.

KKNK programme 1997 p 54

Citizen, 5 September 1998.

Robert Greig. "Chekhov himself would have been proud", Review.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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