Romeo and Juliet

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History of the text

Believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597. This text was of poor quality, and later editions corrected it, bringing it more in line with Shakespeare's original.

Adaptations of the text

Romeo and Juliet has been adapted numerous times for stage, film, musical and opera (many versions of which have been done in South Africa over the years).

During the English Restoration, it was revived and heavily revised by William Davenant. David Garrick's 18th-century version also modified several scenes, removing material then considered indecent, and Georg Benda's operatic adaptation omitted much of the action and added a happy ending.

Performances in the 19th century, including Charlotte Cushman's, restored the original text, and focused on greater realism. John Gielgud's 1935 version kept very close to Shakespeare's text, and used Elizabethan costumes and staging to enhance the drama. In the 20th century the play has been adapted in versions as diverse as George Cukor's comparatively faithful 1936 production, Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version, and Baz Luhrmann's 1996 MTV-inspired Romeo + Juliet. Other 20th century stage adaptations include Jean Anouilh's Roméo et Jeanette, Peter Verhulst's Romeo en Julia, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, Joe Calarco's Shakespeare's R&J, *)

South African productions

An eternal favourite, this play has been performed in various guises in South Africa.

Performances of the standard text

First performed here in 18** by **.

Other major productions were by *, the Johannesburg REPS (1949. Directed by André van Gyseghem, starring Eugenie Heyns, Leon Gluckman, Muriel Alexander, and Herbert Kretzmer, with sets by Len Grosset and costumes by Louis Jacobson. Put on in the Pretoria Opera House and the Wits University Great Hall)

A favourite at Maynardville, it was done by (dir *, 19*), **, Maynardville (dir Clare Stopford, 200*).

Translations into South African languages

Translated into a number of South African languages, including:

Afrikaans as Romeo en Juliet (by ** ). Performed by * in 19*, published by * in 19*),

Southern Sotho as Romeo le Juliet by I. Mahloane. Published by Mazenod in 1964), .

South African performances of adaptations from abroad

Shakespeare's R&J

An adaptation of the Shakespeare original by Joe Calarco, set in the repressed atmosphere of a modern Catholic boarding school for boys. First produced in New York in 1998 under the author's direction.

Produced in South Africa at the 2011 Grahamstown Festival by Abrahamse Meyer Productions. Directed and designed by Fred Abrahamse, with Marcel Meyer as Romeo, James MacGregor as Juliet, Rory Acton Burnell as Mercutio/Friar Laurence/Lady Capulet and Alistair Moulton Black as Tybalt/Nurse.

South African adaptations

Similarly, many local variations and adaptations have been done. Examples are ** In a theatre-in-education programme on Romeo and Juliet (done by PACT Playwork in 197* and directed by Peter Terry), the text was used as a springboard to explore the notion of prejudice in South Africa and Northern Ireland, for debate by the audience.



Bosman, 1928;

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