Revision as of 07:24, 26 January 2023 by Satj (talk | contribs) (→‎Translations and adaptations)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gengangere (lit. "again walkers", or "ones who return" in Danish) is a play by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)[1].

Widely known in the English speaking world as Ghosts, but also referred to as The Revenants[2] in some cases.

The original text

Written in 1881, it was first staged in 1882 in Chicago, USA, in a production by a Danish company on tour and at the time The play was was very controversial because of its subject matter, which includes religion, venereal disease, incest and euthanasia.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into many different languages, in English usually entitled Ghosts. However, Ibsen did not approve of this choice, because the original Danish title Gengangere would be more accurately translated as "The Revenants", which literally means "The Ones who Return".

Translated into Dutch as Spoken ("Ghosts").

Various Afrikaans translations have been done under the title Spoke ("Ghosts"), usually from the English.

For instance, M.P.O. Burgers did one in the 1940's and Louis van Niekerk in the 1980's for PACT.

Translated from the original Norwegian by Nerina Ferreira for CAPAB in the late 1980s. Ferreira was an actress as well as a fine translator, and an interestingly annotated copy of her translation, including 12 comments on language, characters and the like for the performers was used for the 1990 CAPAB production. In this she confirms that hers is not an academic translation but one in which performer is the prime concern. She adds:"Noors vertaal lekker in Afrikaans" (i.e. "Norwegian translates enjoyably/easily into Afrikaans")

Performance history in South Africa

1927: A Dutch translation entitled Spoken was performed by Mignon Sorel and Louis de Vriendt, who toured South Africa in 1927.

1928: Produced in English by the Cape Town Repertory Theatre Society, starring Cecile de Banke as Mrs Alving and W. Arthur Sewell as Oswald Alving.

1945: Produced by Joyce Burch for the Friends of Eoan, Little Theatre, Cape Town, with Helen Southern-Holt, Charles Johnman, Walter Patterson, Jacomina de Bruyn and Bernard Blumenthal.

1947: The Burgers Afrikaans translation was staged as Spoke in the His Majesty's Theatre, Johannesburg, with André Huguenet, Anna Neethling-Pohl, Hendrik Hanekom, James Norval and Anna Cloete. (Note: Like the 1947 Afrikaans Hamlet, this production played a significant role in persuading the government to support a national theatre).

1968: An English production, directed by Frank Shelley for NAPAC, the play opened in St John's Theatre on 24 October. The role of Mrs Alving was played by Valerie Miller. Others in the cast were: David Horner, Reinet Maasdorp, Reg Richards. Set design: Bill Smuts; costumes: Lucille Cross.

1982: Spoke, the van Niekerk Afrikaans translation was staged by PACT, directed by Etienne Puren, with Wilna Snyman (Helen Alving), Johan Engelbrecht (Oswald Alving), Jan Schutte (Pastoor Manders), Amor Tredoux (Regina Engstrand) and Eric Nobbs (Jacob Engstrand). Costumes by Bronwen Lovegrove and lighting by Peter Just.

1990: Spoke, the Ferreira Afrikaans translation was staged by CAPAB in the Nico Arena in August, directed by Marthinus Basson and the cast were Antoinette Kellermann (Mev Helene Alving), Paul Malherbe (Dominee Manders), Gustav Geldenhuys (Osvald Alving), Louw Verwey (Engstrand) and Isabelle Mostert (Regine Engstrand). Designs by Birrie le Roux, lighting by Malcolm Hurrell, stage manager Hannelie de Beer.


The Mime, 1(3), 1928.

South African Opinion, 2(6):18-19; Trek, 10(1):18, 1945.

Teater SA, 1(1) and (2), 1968.

PACT theatre programme, 1982.

Nico Malan Theatre pamphlet June-August 1990.

A copy of Antoinette Kellerman's typed and annotated performance text of the Nerina Ferreira's Afrikaans translation, found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page