J. Riaux

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J. Riaux (17**-18**) was a French theatrical entrepeneur, director and dance instructor at the Cape during the early 1800s. (Also listed by Bosman (1928, p. 129) as M.J. Riaux, but this could have been a misreading of the French use of "M." for "Monsieur", i.e. thus "Monsieur J. Riaux".)

His contribution to South African theatre

A key member of the French movement in the Cape theatre, he performed for C.E. Boniface and Het Fransche Liefhebbery Geselschap in the early part of the entrepreneur's Cape Town career, beginning with pieces like Les Plaideurs (Racine) and Le Derviche (De Saint-Foix) in 1809. A performance on 29 August 1809, of Les Précieuses ridicules (Molière), and something called Cantasmagorie (possibly a misspelling of La Fantasmagorie), was done as a benefit for Riaux.

His young dance pupils performed many ballet pieces and pantomimes as part of many of the theatrical events in this period, and also as independent productions. For example, on on 13 and 27 October, 1810 a company referred to as Liefhebbers en Leerlingen van Mnr Riaux ("Amateurs and pupils of Mr Riaux") performed in The African Theatre.

He also collaborated with the music teacher L. Meurant on such fantasy pieces, including a Fantasmagorie (2 December, 1809), Le Somnambule ou Orgia (Pont-de-Vesle), Het Liefdesnest (Riaux and Meurant), Le Baiser (Florian), etc.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp.49, 84, 125-129, 137, 171, 174.

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