Captain Frazer

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Possibly Captain W. Frazer (??). Soldier, actor and author.

A British officer, an assistant to the Deputy Barrack-Master General's department, he was apparently a Scot of about fifty, with a love for theatre, who arrived in Cape Town in 1806. He was an active and leading member of the amateur group the Officers of the Garrison and would became instrumental in forming the group All the World's a Stage, thus ensuring the start of an immensely active English theatrical life in Cape Town with one flamboyant season. Not only was he one of the leading actors , but he also wrote a number of prologues and songs for the Cape Town Garrison Theatre and the local English amateurs at the beginning of the 19th century.

His performances

As a performer he tended to specialize in the older female roles, appearing in most of the productions by the Garrison Players between 1806-1809, and some of the roles specifically mentioned are listed here.

1807: His first appearance was as "Mrs Hardcastle" in Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer and "Lady Pentweasle" in Foote's Taste,on 20 June 1807.

1807: He played "Mrs Sullen" in The Old Maid (Murphy), on 8 August, also reading a epilogue.

1807: On 10 October he appeared as "Sir Benjamin Dove" in Cumberland's The Brothers and "Kitty" in Townley's High Life Below Stairs.

His writing

Captain Frazer was clearly an avid author of additional theatrical material. F.C.L. Bosman, 1928[1]: pp. 70-78) mentions and at times partially quotes a number of prologues, songs and epilogues written and/or spoken by Captain Frazer during his theatrical career in Cape Town.

The first of his prologues and, according to Bosman, possibly the oldest extant European theatre piece created in South Africa, was read by Mr Morgan on 20 June 1807 (before a performance of She Stoops to Conquer). During the same evening, Frazer also sang a self-made song in the role of "Lady Pentweasle" in Foote's Taste.

He wrote a comic address, read by Mr Napier in the role of "Cherry", for a performance of The Old Maid (Murphy), and an Epilogue to the evening's entertainment (which he read himself) in the role of "Mrs Sullen" on 8 August, 1807.

He wrote and read an Epilogue to the performance of Cumberland's The Brothers and "Kitty" in Townley's farce High Life Below Stairs on 10 October, 1807, in which he announces the imminent departure of his regiment. He also wrote and sang a song in the farce.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928[2]: pp. 70-75, 107

Jill Fletcher, 1994

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