Nag, Generaal

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Nag, Generaal ("Goodnight, General") is a play by Reza de Wet (1952-2012).

The original text

A pacifist play set in the final years of the Anglo-Boer War and relating the story of Martha, a woman finding her own inner strength with the aid of a mystical young herbalist, while seeking to avenge herself on her dying husband, the patriarchal General, whom she holds responsible for the death by suffocation of her son, whom he had sent to the battle front.

Published in De Wet's collection called Vrystaat Trilogie ("Free State Trilogy") in 1991 (HAUM-Literêr), along with Diepe Grond and Op Dees Aarde.

Translations and adaptations

In 2004 De Wet re-wrote the play as Breathing In, a more Gothic tale and refocusing the issues of the play on the notion that the "final breath" of a dying person could be life-giving. Using very much the same situation, she retains the General, but combines the Martha character with that of the mysterious healer, to create a kind of Mother Courage character, who, while acting as healer, simultaneously scavenges on the battlefield, to the extent of using her beautiful young daughter to seduce young soldiers and robbing them of their "dying breath" to keep her daughter alive.

Breathing In was in its turn translated back into Afrikaans as Asem ("breath") by Marthinus Basson and had its premiére at the KKNK in 2017.

Performance history in South Africa

1988: Directed by Lucille Gillwald in 1988 for the Market Theatre Company with Sandra Prinsloo (Magda), Gys de Villiers (Generaal), Dawid Minnaar (Naas), André Stolz (Lombaard) at the Rhodes Theatre, Grahamstown Festival followed by a run at Upstairs at the Market. Design by Nadya Cohen, lighting by Wesley France.

1991: Directed by Ernst Eloff for PACOFS at the André Huguenet Theatre, Bloemfontein, opening 15 August 1991. The cast members were Christo Compion (Generaal), Isadora Verwey (Magda), Pieter Brand (Naas) and Hendrik Baird (Lombaard). Design Johnny Boerstoel, lighting Dulcie Holtzhausen, musical arrangement Heidi Edeling.

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.


National Arts Festival programme 1988. 42.

Evening Post, 4 July 1988;

Business Day 22 July 1988.

PACOFS News, 17(3), 1991.

Nag, Generaal theatre programme, 1991.

Hester Rossly van der Wal. 2005. Vrouefigure in Reza de Wet se Drama-oeuvre. Unpublished M.A. Thesis, University of South Africa[1].

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