I.R. Taylor

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I.R. Taylor (fl. mid 1800s) was a Cape Town amateur performer, manager, impresario and playwright.

He was most probably the same person referred to as J.R. Taylor on at least one occasion. He also used the stage name R. Webster on occasion, when acting in plays.


According to F.C.L. Bosman (1928, p.431) (based on Groom, 1899), he had a business in Heerengracht Street, though nothing much else is known about him.

Contribution to South African theatre

Taylor apparently served as ticket sales office for the Cape Town performances by various companies and societies , and possible even as publicity agent and impresario, being responsible for the management of Sefton Parry's first season in Cape Town and J.E.H. English's subsequent season in the city. Among his other clients were Gustavus V. Brooke (1854-1855), E.C. de Jocelyn Harvey (1859), Annie Rowlands (1858-9).

On 14 July 1855 a benefit performance was to have been held for Taylor by Sefton Parry and company, consisting of Monsieur Jacques and Used Up, but it never took place.

He was more directly involved with theatre productions by being a founding member of, and actor for, the Cape Town Dramatic Club and some visiting companies.

As dramatist F.C.L. Bosman (1980, pp.216, 533) suggests he may have been the anonymous "Gentleman of Cape Town" who wrote The Wraith of Table Mountain, a local play performed by the Le Roy-Duret Company in the Harrington Street Theatre on 13 August, 1866. He is also credited as the author of the play The Snake in the Grass, perhaps a dramatization of The Snake in the Grass , a serial novel by Pierce Egan the Younger (The London Journal , 8 May 1858 - 27 Nov. 1858, in No. 720), which was first performed, under the patronage of Governor Wodehouse, by the Le Roy and Duret Company as part of their repertoire during their 1867-1868 season in Cape Town.

As an actor apparently also used the stage name R. Webster (or simply "Webster") on occasion, e.g. when working with Madame Duret and her company on Plot and Passion and subsequent plays put on by her and by James Leffler - even receiving a benefit performance from the Leffler company on 11 December in 1866.

[TH, JH]


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp. 412, 431, 494, 504

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 48, 53, 58, 98, 118, 124, 129, 143, 157, 168, 177, 216, 219, 220, 231, 235-6, 295.

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: pp. 83, 86, 95-6

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