Vouloir C'est Pouvoir

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Vouloir C'est Pouvoir ("to want is to be able to") is a musical comedy (burletta) in two acts by Jacques-Arsène-François-Polycarpe Ancelot, (1794-1854)[1] and Alexis Decomberousse (1793-1862)[2].

The original text

Performed for the first time at the Théâtre de Vaudeville, Paris, on 24 June, 1837 and published by Marchant (Paris) in the same year.

Translations and adaptations

According to the editorial introduction of the original published version, the French play was the starting point for a one act English version by James Robinson Planché (1796-1880)[3] called Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady (described as " a comedietta in one act").

The work was first performed at the Olympic Theatre, London, on the last Thursday of October, 1839 and published by Samuel French (French's Standard Drama no LXVIII) in 1840(?).

See also John Pratt Wooler's 1863 one-act comedy called A Faint Heart which Did Win a Fair Lady, which was probably a reference (or even a response) to Planché's comedy.

Performance history in South Africa

1859: Performed in Planché's English version as Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady by Sefton Parry and his company in the Cape Town Theatre, on 7 November, with A Dead Shot (Buckstone), A Dreadful Deed (Dubois) and a "Tambourine Dance" by Lizzie Powell.

1866: A piece rather tentatively listed by F.C.L. Bosman as Faint Heart (Which) Did Win (a) Fair Lady (and ascribed to J.P. Wooler) was performed by the Le Roy and Duret Company in the Harrington Street Theatre, on 15 October, with Pizarro (Von Kotzebue/Sheridan), A Ticket of Leave (Phillips) and a dance called "La Cachuca" by Mrs Brazier and Mrs Luin. The evening was a "Farewell Complimentary Testimonial" for Madame Duret.

1875: Performed in Planché's English version as Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town, on 14 July, with The Streets of London (Boucicault). The evening was a benefit for Tom Paulton.


Facsimile version of the original French text, Gallica BNF[4]



Facsimile version of the original 1840 text by Planché, Hathi Trust Digital Library[5]


Allardyce Nicoll. 1975. A History of English Drama 1660-1900: Late 19th Century Drama 1850-1900 Cambridge University Press: p.632[6]


D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p. 77

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