South African Theatre/Plays

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Original lists compiled by Temple Hauptfleisch, with extensive help from Yvette Hutchison, Hilda van Lill, Miriam Terblanche, Ivor Markman, Johann van Heerden and Hannah Borthwick.


Click on the appropriate sub-section in the list below to go to the subsection you require. There you will find an alphabetical listing of links to entries in that sub-section. All works are arranged alphabetically according the title of the work. There you then click on the relevant letter of the alphabet to go to the specific entry. (For more information, see Notes to using this section, below.)

Click on the applicable section:

PLAYS I: Original SA plays (Original South African texts or significant adaptations, but NOT mere translations. Also texts by South African born playwrights living abroad.)

PLAYS II: Foreign plays (Significant South African productions of foreign plays, in the original and in translation)

PLAYS III: Collections (Published play collections and literary anthologies containing original South African texts or significant adaptations.)

PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Notes to using this section

What is included

The lists are all arranged alphabetically according to the title of the play, the title of the collection of plays , etc.

Please note that, where at all possible, each play will be discussed under their original titles in the original language, an important point where so many plays performed in South Africa have been translations and/or adaptations from Europeans works. (In cases where the original title is - as yet - unknown, the play will be discussed under the translated title.) However a link is provided from the translated (Afrikaans, English, Dutch, Sotho, Xhosa, Zulu, etc) title to the original. It is also important to note that there may be a number of plays with the same title, or the same play may have several titles (in different languages even). In such cases again, the play will be discussed under its original title in the original language (as far as possible) and listed under its original title as well as the alternative or translated titles, with links.

There are also plays that that are usually assumed to be original South African works, but which may in fact be translations and/or adaptations of foreign plays and stories. Similarly, a play assumed to be a foreign play, may in fact be a South African work. So readers are advised to consult both lists when looking for a play. In view of this readers are encouraged to consult both lists: PLAYS I: Original SA plays and PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Also included in this section are theatrical events or performance of another nature. Under the separate listing (Plays IV: Pageants and public performances) we provide links to public celebrations, pageants and tableaux, and other such one-off events which in some way be said to constitute performances in themselves (Please note that such events may include a number of individual performances in their structure, which will then ALSO be listed as individual performances in the appropriate "plays" sections). The events are arranged according to the name of the particular public event or pageant (e.g. The Empire Exhibition, Centenary celebrations of the Great Trek, the Emancipation Centenary Celebrations, the Presidential Inauguration of Nelson Mandela, etc.)

Not included here are Festivals, competitions and similar annual events, which are made up of different individual performances, debates, exhibitions, etc. These are listed under a separate category, South African Festivals (Section 14 in the main Index to The ESAT Entries), but they can of course also be seen as Venues for other events, hence where applicable they may also be listed in the South African Venues, Companies, Societies, etc section.(See for example The Grahamstown Festival, ATKV Amateur Toneelkompetisie)

Bibliographic conventions and usage

(1) Use and placement of articles in titles: In accordance with normal bibliographic usage, in cases where the titles of plays and performances contain an initial article (e.g. "A", "An" and "The" in English, " 'N" or "Die" in Afrikaans), the items are listed alphabetically according to the first noun following that initial article. The article is then put at the end of the title. To illustrate: "The Arrest by Uys Krige" is listed as "Arrest, The by Uys Krige" under #A. Similarly, the original Afrikaans version ("Die Arrestasie") is listed as "Arrestasie, Die by Uys Krige", also under #A.

NB: This is however only done for the numerous works listed in Afrikaans, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish in this encyclopaedia. In most other languages (such as the other seven indigenous South African languages, including Sotho, Xhosa and Zulu, and any European languages not listed above, such as Russian, Greek, Norwegian, etc), the full titles are listed exactly as they are, with beginning article where applicable, since the grammatical structure of most such languages are too complex and unfamiliar for us to apply this procedure consistently.

Please also note: Plays with titles starting with a numeral or date are placed in a separate listing marked #Numbers or dates.

(2) Capitalization of titles: Since this encyclopaedia is written in English and the convention in English is to capitalize all nouns and verbs in the title of a publication or play, the same usage is extended here to titles in other languages, where the conventions may be different. The case of Afrikaans titles is particularly important here, since only the first word in an Afrikaans title is normally capitalized, the rest being written in lower case. So the play Siener in die suburbs will appear here as Siener in die Suburbs, Die jaar van die vuuros will be written Die Jaar van die Vuuros, and so on.

(3) Foreign plays in the list: In the case of the second list (Plays II), the term "significant" is used to refer to plays that have had an extended life or long run over the years, or a theatrical event which had a specific and demonstrale impact on the industry and the art form in South Africa. It is obvious that the sheer number of plays produced in the country over the course of almost four centuries, we cannot possibly list all plays, even though we are trying to be as comprehensive and thorough as possible.

(4) Adapted/translated plays: Plays that have been adapted from or are translated versions of international works, are listed under their local titles in Plays II , then cross-referenced to the original title (also in Plays II). Thus for example Umabatha will be listed under "U" in Plays II with a cross-referencing to Macbeth (under "M"), while Absolom, my Seun! will be listed under "A" in Plays II and cross-referenced to the original text (John Ferguson by St John Ervine) under "J".

NB: Since some local authors do not necessarily (or always) acknowledge their original sources, please check BOTH lists - i.e. Plays I and Plays II when looking for a play.

(5) Plays by Shakespeare: For ease of reference the plays by Shakespeare are not listed under their full Elizabethan title in Plays II, but under the the briefer, more familiar titles used by the general public. (e.g. Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, etc.) The same is often true of the titles for the Greek, Roman and other translated plays.

(6) The list of Collections: Collections of plays (Plays III) consists only of collections which contain at least one South African text, and the contents of the volume will also only list the South African texts contained in the volume. For details about the individual plays see the lists Plays I and Plays II (under name of the individual play)

(7) Pageants and Public Events: In this section (Plays IV), the events are dealt with as performances, and each one is thus listed under its title in the same way a play may be. However, should any of these events be made up of or contain smaller entities (e.g. plays, performances, exhibitions etc), details about the individual plays will be found in Plays I and Plays II (under name of the individual play), as in the case of Collections.

For more information on the general bibliographic conventions used in ESAT, go to:

ESAT Bibliographic Conventions

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