LOST PLAY: Armand Aucamp stars as Cardenio in a play of the same title which runs at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre.

In its 50-odd years of existence, the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre has staged quite a number of Shakespeare productions. But for the first time, this theatre presents the premiere of one of the Bard’s plays.

Written with Shakespeare’s collaborator, John Fletcher, Cardenio is on at Maynardville until the day The Notorious BIG died. That’s March 9, if you weren’t sure. The play is presented by the Artscape Theatre and the Maynardville Trust.

Living in Andalucía in Spain in the 17th century, a dashing young lad named Cardenio is smitten with a beautiful young woman called Luscinda. So besotted is Cardenio that he can’t help but tell his BFF, Fernando, about Luscinda while they are at a party hosted by Fernando’s wealthy father – Fernando is the son of a duke, after all.

Fernando doesn’t take his friend’s words to heart until he sets his eyes on Luscinda.

Just like that, Fernando decides that Luscinda will be his and abandons all hope he had for a relationship with a humble farmer’s daughter called Dorotea.

Fernando goes behind Cardenio’s back and marries Luscinda – leaving Cardenio livid and Dorotea heartbroken. But will Cardenio get his own back? And what is wrong with Luscinda? All of these questions will be answered at Maynardville’s premiere of the production.

It stars Armand Aucamp as Cardenio, Jenny Stead as Luscinda, Francis Chouler as Fernando, Zondwa Njokweni as Dorotea, Terence Bridget as Don Bernardo, Andre Jacobs as Don Camillo and Adrian Galley as Duke Ricardo. This production of Cardenio is directed by Roy Sargeant.

As legend has it, long before Jan van Riebeek set foot on the southern tip of Africa, Shakespeare and Fletcher were inspired by a story within Don Quixote, a novel by Miguel de Cervantes, which featured a character named Cardenio.

The actual text played hide-and- seek with theatre lovers for a few decades and resurfaced in the 1700s, inspiring a few other writers to find a Cardenio, too, along the way. One such person was editor and producer Lewis Theobald, who said his own play, Double Falsehood, was inspired by Cardenio, Shakespeare and Fletcher’s “lost” play.

Now found, the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre’s run of Cardenio promises to be a breath of dramatic, but fresh, air.

• See Cardenio at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre until March 9. Tickets cost from R55 to R160 at Computicket and 021 421 7695.