Cape Town Dramatic Club

From ESAT
(Redirected from Royal Alfred Dramatic Club)
Jump to: navigation, search

The Cape Town Dramatic Club was an amateur society active in Cape Town in the 1850s.

Also found as the the C.T. Dramatic Club, the Cape Town Theatrical Club, or simply referred to as the C.T.D.C.

The club was the source of the spin-off society, the Alfred Dramatic Club (later Royal Alfred Dramatic Club), founded by dissident members in 1860. The remaining members continued as the Cape Town Dramatic Club for another season, after which they performed with the new company under a joint name as the Cape Town and Royal Alfred Dramatic Club.

The Cape Town Dramatic Club

The Cape Town Dramatic Club (originally founded as the Cape Town Theatrical Club) was a male-only amateur dramatic society founded at Mr Welch's residence in Buitekant Street, in the Cape Town in 1857 or 1858 by or under the auspices of Senator R.W. Murray, who was the first President of the club. The club had rooms in Darling Street and, by arrangement with Sefton Parry, made use of the Harrington Street Theatre for their theatrical activities, which included melodrama, comedy, burlesque and farce, as well as well as ballet (performed by Mr Aldridge and Mr Westropp).

According to separate lists provided by Murray and Groom (see Bosman, 1980: pp. 142-3), members over time included William Groom (director, stage manager, designer, etc for the club) William Sherman, John Ross Jnr, Mr Aldridge, Mr Westropp (secretary), G. Galt, George Prince, E. Christian, Mrs Hutchinson, Miss Hutchinson (later Mrs. Wood), Mrs Maston, Mrs Forrester, Miss Wilters, James Ansdell, J. Rowe, Mr Hawthorne, Dr Pitt, Dr Palgrave, I.R. Taylor, Mr Benjamin and Mrs Sefton Parry.

Several professional performers, besides Parry and his wife, worked with and/or appeared for the club on occasion; among them J.E.H. English, Charles Fraser and Clara Tellett. After his return to Cape Town in 1857, Sefton Parry also utilized the club members (as well as those from other local companies) to produce his own pantomime and other productions in the Drawing Room Theatre, which he had had constructed for his use, even though some acrimony apparently existed between Parry and the club members at various times. (See also Sefton Parry)

The first performance of the Club itself was on 11 May, 1858, and the full programme of their first period (May 1858 to April 1860) was:

The Harrington Theatre seasons

In 1858:

11 May: Still Waters Run Deep , accompanied by a "highland Fling" by an amateur and the one-act burlesque Medea, or The Best of Mothers, with a Brute of a Husband (Brough).

19 May: Repeat if the programme of 11 May.

2 July: Plot and Passion, or The Female Gambler (Taylor and Lang) and Urgent Private Affairs, or The Loyal Volunteers (Coyne)

9 July: Plot and Passion, or The Female Gambler (Taylor and Lang) and The Secret of the Hole in the Wall (Anon.)

29 July: They participate in a benefit performance for Sefton Parry and his wife.

7 October: With the help of several other amateurs, they do a benefit performance for HMS Eastern City , consisting of Nothing Venture, Nothing Win (Coyne) and Bombastes Furioso! (Rhodes).

21 October: Annie Rowlands performs in the Harrington Street Theatre, under the patronage of the club.

In 1859:

22 March: The Evil Genius (Bernard) and The Lady of Lyons, or Two-penny Pride and Penny-Tence (Byron), with a performance of the brass band of the 59th Regiment.

26 April: A Cure for the Heartache and Sarah's Young Man (Suter)

27 May: Retribution (Taylor) and Masaniello (Brough?), with a performance of the brass band of the 59th Regiment.

6 June: Heads or Tails? (Simpson) and Masaniello (Brough?), with a performance of the brass band of the 59th Regiment.

30 June: The Little Treasure (Harris) and The Lady of Lyons (Byron), with a performance of the brass band of the Cape Royal Rifles. The evening a benefit for Miss Delmaine.

28 July: To Oblige Benson (Taylor), An Unwarrantable Intrusion (Morton) and My First Fit of the Gout (Morton)

31 August: Victims (Taylor) and Electra, or A New Electrical Light (Talfourd), with a performance of the brass band of the 59th Regiment.

7 September: Nothing Venture, Nothing Win (Coyne) and Electra, or A New Electrical Light (Talfourd), with a performance of the brass band of the 59th Regiment.

6 October: As part of the Great Volunteers' Parade in Durbanville, the club, in association with other amateurs, presented the burlesque Frederick of Prussia, or The Monarch and the Mimic (Selby) and Whitebait at Greenwich (Morton).

In 1860

From 5 November 1859 onwards, members of the club worked with Sefton Parry, so the only further performance by the "old" Club as such listed by Bosman (1980) is one on 29 March, 1860, when they did Helping Hands (Taylor) and Shylock, or The Merchant of Venice Preserved (a travesty by Talfourd).

The Cabinet Theatre season

The opposition to Parry came to a head in 1860,and Parry and a number of the members broke away to form an own company, the Alfred Dramatic Club, while the original club was reorganized by the remaining members, who continued as the Cape Town Dramatic Club for another season, starting in August, offering a series of performances in the old Cabinet Theatre, which they now renamed the C.T. Dramatic Club Theatre.

The season consisted of:

In 1860

15 June: Payable on Demand (Taylor), Shocking Events (Buckstone), with a performance of the brass band of the 59th Regiment.

29 June: Payable on Demand (Taylor), Those Plagues of Children (Morton).

17 July: Power and Principle (Schiller/Barnett) and Two Heads are Better than One (Horne), with songs sung by Mr Durban.

1 October: The Man of Many Friends (Coyne) and Two Heads are Better than One (Horne), with Railway Overture by the Corps of S.A. Minstrels.

9 October: The Man of Many Friends (Coyne) and Two Heads are Better than One (Horne), with Railway Overture by the Corps of S.A. Minstrels and interlude of songs such as Lord Lovell etc. by a "lady from London". This performance took place in the Theatre Royal under the patronage of the Governor of the Cape.

29 October: The Rivals (Sheridan) and The Spectre Bridegroom (Moncrieff).

5 November: repeat of The Rivals (Sheridan) and Guilty of Not-Guilty (Dibdin), with a performance of the brass band of the Cape Royal Rifles.

12 November: A benefit for Miss Rowlands, who had at this point had announced her retirement from the stage, presented under the patronage and co-operation of the C.T.D.C.. Performed was Charles II, or The Wags of Wapping (Duval) and Betsy Baker (Morton). The cast of Charles II also included the professionals Sefton Parry and Charles Fraser and Mr Raymond in the accompanying piece.


In 1861

12 January: A joint benefit for Mrs C. Fraser and Mr H. Seymour, presented under the patronage and co-operation of the C.T.D.C..

18 February: Their farewell performance. Duchess or Nothing (Gordon), The Plagued Professor ("An Original Interlude expressly written for this occasion" by Cresswell, "characters by members of the Royal Alfred Club) and The Unfinished Gentleman (Selby)

The Theatre Royal season

The Club had a final, brief, revival as an independent company with the help of Sefton Parry and in association with Mrs Tellett in 1862.

In 1862

28 July: Still Waters Run Deep () and Monsieur Tonson ().

4 August: Still Waters Run Deep () and Monsieur Tonson (), along with A Perfect Cure (), performed by Mrs Tellett.

After this they joined forces with the Royal Alfred Dramatic Club

The Alfred Dramatic Club (later the Royal Alfred Dramatic Club or R.A.C.)

The newly formed Alfred Dramatic Club soon had almost 40 members and worked largely as a semi-professional company, with Sefton Parry as manager and G.H. Galt as secretary. The new Club limited itself to popular programmes and performed in the new Theatre Royal which Parry had had built in Harrington Street, more or less alternately with Parry's more serious fare with his professional company.

Having attended the Club's first production (The Irish Tutor) on 15 September of 1860, the visiting Prince Alfred bestowed his name upon them, so henceforth the company was known as the Royal Alfred Dramatic Club (or at times the Royal Alfred Club (R.A.C.).

Among their more prominent members and performers, besides Sefton Parry and his professionals, were Mr St George, Mr Milton, Mr St Clair, Mr Kingston, Mr Murphy, Mr Cresswell, Mr H. Seymour and possibly Mr Chester. Women who appeared in the plays included Mrs Delmaine and Miss Delmaine.

Another important member appears to have been the celebrated traveler and painter Thomas Baines, who undertook much of the scene painting and was responsible for the amazing mechanical marvels introduced in performances.

Their performances under both names include:

In 1860:

22 August and 15 September: The Irish Tutor (Butler), songs and dances by Miss Lizzie Powell and The Maid and The Magpie, or The Fatal Spoon (Byron). Led by Sefton Parry, the performers in this case included the professionals Mrs Parry, Mrs Delmaine and Miss Powell and the amateur comedian Murphy.

25 November: Dido, The Queen of Carthage (Durnand) and The Irish Tutor (Butler), with the brass orchestra of the 59th Regiment.

3 December: Dido, The Queen of Carthage (Durnand) and Who Do You Take Me For? (Morton?), with the brass orchestra of the 59th Regiment.

17 and 20 December: The Little Treasure and The Hundred Pound Note (Peake). The first performance was done as a benefit for Mrs Delmaine.

27 December: The Happy Man (Lover) and, by special request, Dido, The Queen of Carthage (Durnand).

In 1861:

10 January: Fra Diavolo, or The Beauty and the Brigands and A Night at Notting Hill (Yates and Harrington).

23 February: A "grand gala night" with a repeat of Dido, The Queen of Carthage (Durnand) and The Irish Tutor (Butler).

The Cape Town and Royal Alfred Dramatic Club

In 1861 the amateur members of the Royal Alfred Dramatic Club rejoined forces with the Cape Town Dramatic Club on occasion - in such cases referred to as the Cape Town and Royal Alfred Dramatic Club - and undertook a few co-presentations in the Theatre Royal during the 1861-1862 season.

In 1861:

On 11 February: The Lonely Man of the Ocean (Blake) with new scenery and mechanical arrangements by Mr T. Baines.

On 7 March: My Friend in the Straps (Selby) and Othello a "musical extravaganza" by an anonymous author.

On 11 and 14 March: "Entertainment St George"

On 1 August: The Rivals (Sheridan), a dance by Lizzie Powell and The Bonnie Fishwife (Selby)

In 1862:

On 2 and 9 September: Helping Hands (Taylor), an operetta called No!!! (Clarence), and a song by Mr Beverley.

On 23 September: The Cure, with Still Waters Run Deep (Taylor), the latter performed by the Cape Town Dramatic Club alone.

On 30 September, 2, 6 and 14 October: a "musical burlesque" billed as The Colleen Bawn (actually Miss Eily O'Connor by Byron).

Sources

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1].

F.C.L. Bosman, 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II: 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik.

P.J. du Toit. 1988. Amateurtoneel in Suid-Afrika. Pretoria: Academica.

Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to South African Theatre Venues, Companies, Societies, etc

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page