Cutler Comedy Company

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The Cutler Comedy Company was one of the many 19th century American travelling "Indian medicine shows", in this case one that also featured melodramas, banjo music and blackface minstrelsy.

Originally founded by Frank L. Cutler (1848-1935)[1] in the late 19th century, the company not only featured his daughter, Myra Cutler, but also Joe Keaton for a while in the 1890s. The latter two would later marry and become the parents of silent film star Buster Keaton.

Interestingly, among the many medicine's the company marketed was something known the "Kickapoo Elixir" (see the minstrel company The Kickapoos)

Contribution to theatre and performance in South Africa

The company visited Cape Town during 1906, under the patronage of the Governor, probably while en route to or from Australia (and by then without the Keatons).

They appeared in the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town, on 2 March 1906 with performances of Het Zoen in die Donker (a Dutch/Afrikaans reference to, title for, or even translation of, Buckstone's A Kiss in the Dark), Catching a Count (Anon.) and what was simply billed as "A Farce in the Taal" (i.e. an untitled farce, probably done in a burlesque version of Afrikaans - and likely to have been created with some help from local performers).


S.D. Trav. Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies, From Nickelodeons to Youtube. BearManor Media. (Chapter 8), Google-ebook[2].

Edward McPherson. 2011. Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat. Faber & Faber (Chapter 1), Google E-book[3].

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, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.481

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