The Comedy of Errors

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The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare.

The original text

Much performed and studied over the years, this play was first performed in English at Gray's Inn Hall in 1594.

Translations and adaptations

The basic them of the play - and that of its major source, the Menaechmi by Plautus - has been used as source and/or been adapted in numerous ways over the years. The play has also been translated in a vast number of languages. Below we list South African versions.

Translated into Setswana by Sol Plaatje entitled Diphosophoso (literally "Mistakes, mistakes") and published as Diphosophoso: Shakespeare's 'The Comedy of Errors' (subtitled "E fetoletswe mo puong ya Setswana ke Solomon Tshekiso Plaatje") by Morija Printing Works, 1930; Reprinted in Gaberones by Botswana Book Centre, 1964.

Translated and adapted into Afrikaans as Kinkels innie Kabel (="twists in the cable") by André P. Brink. It was a hugely popular adaptation to a Western Cape setting , utilizing the local regional variant of Afrikaans called "Kaaps" to good effect.

The plot likewise adapted, this time to a Bloemfontein setting in the 1954 period, as Waaihoek se Vinkel en Koljander by Nico Luwes in 2000/2001.

For details on the text and productions of Kinkels innie Kabel and Waaihoek se Vinkel en Koljander, click on the specific title to see the entry on it in ESAT.

Performance history in South Africa

1913:The first professional production in South Africa was performed by Henry Herbert and his touring Henry Herbert Company in 1913.

1964: Directed by Alexandra Dane for the Cambridge Theatre Group tour of South Africa in July - August 1964.

1983: In July 1983 it was the first production in the new Wits Theatre with Ian Steadman directing Wits drama students. It featured students of the School of Music playing an especially written score by Professor Henk Temmingh.

1985: A PACT production staged at the Alexander Theatre and the State Theatre in 1985 was directed by Janice Honeyman starring Neville Thomas, Dale Cutts, Graham Hopkins, Martin le Maitre, Frantz Dobrowsky, Russel Savadier, Maralin Vanrenen, Clare Stopford, Charlotte Butler, Peter Terry, Barry French, Billy Second, Margaret Heale, Guy de Lancey, Bruce Alexander, Gina Benjamin and Karen Going. Decor by Andrew Botha, costumes by Frances Michaletos, lighting by Stan Knight.

1986: Directed by Ken Leach for CAPAB at Maynardville, opening on 17 January 1986. The cast: Ronald France, Bill Jervis, Michael Richard, Andrew Buckland, Mark Graham, Silamour Philander, Grethe Fox, Mary Dreyer, Paddy Canavan, Shaleen Surtie-Richards, Royston Stoffels, Gordon van Rooyen, Joseph Ribeiro, André Roothman, Jamie Bartlett, Louise Saint-Claire. Paul Smith, Chris Baatjies. The production was revived at the beginning of 1988 with changes in the cast, directed by Mark Graham. Designer: Dicky Longhurst.

2005: Diphosophoso: Shakespeare's 'The Comedy of Errors' performed in Setswana at the Aardklop festival, directed by Josias Moleele.


Research material on the theatre in South Africa (re 1964 production) held by NELM: [Collection: FLETCHER, Jill]: 2005. 75. 19. 2.

CAPAB theatre pamphlet, 1979.

PACT theatre pamphlet, July 1981.

NAPAC News, April 1981.

Teaterforum, 4(1), 1983, 113.

Quince, 1990

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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