The original text
The play tells of a mother keeps her daughter under constant supervision on a remote small-holding during the Depression, where they earn a living sewing sacks for the mountains of manure bought to them by surrounding farmers. The father, who is never seen, exiled himself to the loft some years ten before the play starts, leaving the women to run the farm. The night the action takes place is a strange one: haunting music fills the air from the nearby fairground, forbidden to the daughter. A mysterious blind policeman visits the mother and her daughter. This night is the anniversary of several mysterious disappearances of young women from their homes in the village. It is expected that the killer, or abductor, of these girls will strike again.
The title has a variety of meanings in Afrikaans (e.g. "dung", "off-target", "fog" and "holy mass"), all of which feature symbolically in this magical-realist play about a young daughter's escape from her disfunctional rural Afrikaans family. In adverbial form, i.e. vermis, the term also refers to the idea of "missing" or unable to be found - hence the title given to the English translation of the play.)
First published by HAUM as part of a trilogy entitled Trits: Mis - Mirakel - Drif (or simply Trits) in 1993. The text won the Fleur du Cap Award for Best New Indigenous Script 1993 and the collection won De Wet the Hertzog Prize for Drama in 1993.
Translations and adaptations
Translated into English as Missing, by Steven Stead and published in 2000 by Oberon Books in the collection Plays One: Missing - Crossing - Miracle (or simply Plays One) by Reza de Wet (also containing Miracle and Crossing).
Translated into Greek and published with Crossing in 2006.
Performances in South Africa
1992: First performed in Afrikaans at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown by CAPAB in July 1992, directed by Marthinus Basson, with Mary Dreyer (Gertie), Elma van Wijk (Meisie), Trix Pienaar (Miem) and André Roothman (Konstabel). (Date unconfirmed. See next entry).
1993: Performed in Afrikaans in the Nico Malan Theatre, Cape Town by CAPAB from 16 March to 3 April 1993, and later transferred to the State Theatre, Pretoria. Directed by Marthinus Basson with Mary Dreyer (Gertie), Elma van Wijk (Meisie), Trix Pienaar (Miem) and André Roothman (Konstabel). Design by Birrie le Roux, lighting by Pieter de Swardt. This production toured the Cape Province and was seen at the National Arts Festival 1993.
1996: Scenes from the play were performed by seven final year University of Stellenbosch drama students in the Kellerteater at the University, directed by lecturer Shirley Johnston, with a cast including Paul du Toit, Angerie van Wyk, Martelize Kolver, Leanna Dreyer, Nicole Holm , Amelda Brand and Nico Dreyer. Set design and lighting by Kobus Rossouw. In a rare exchange, the production was also performed for and debated by the UCT drama staff and students, in the Drama Department of the University of Cape Town.
2011: Performed at Aardklop.
2013-2018: Performed annually in Afrikaans as a touring schools programme in the Western Cape by Stercus Produksies, directed by Gaerin Hauptfleisch. Among the performers who appeared in these productions were Esther van Waltsleben, Jan-Hendrik Opperman, Marion Holm, Wilhelm van der Walt, Karli Heine and Petro van der Heever.
2001: Performed as Missing in the United Kingdom on a tour of the Midlands in March, April and May
2002: A staged reading was held at the Old Vic on 6th March 2002
2003: Performed as Missing at the White Bear Theatre, Kennington, in April and at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Kentish Town, in July.
2006: Performed in a Greek language translation in Athens in November.
2007: A production opened in Prague, October 6th
2010: Performed in Greek in Nicosia, Cyprus in August.
2012: Performed in a Greek language translation in in Athens in October.
2013: A production opened in Uherske Hradiste, Moravia, Czech Republic on October 28th.
2014: A Czech amateur production opened on Feb 13th in the town of Ricany.
Mis theatre programme (CAPAB) 1993.
Beeld, 26 September 2011.
Shirley Johnston 2018. "Drifte": Discovering the Secrets of Reza de Wet's Heart. Unpublished manuscript of a contribution to a commemorative collection for De Wet.
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