The Cape Mail

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The Cape Mail is a one act play by Clement Scott (1841–1904)[1]

The original text

According to J.P. Wearing (2013)[2], the play was founded on an incident in Jeanne qui Pleure et Jeanne qui Rit, a French comedy in four acts by (1859) by Philippe François Pinel Dumanoir and Ange de Kéraniou (published in January 1860 by Michel Lévy frères and first performed in Paris at the Théâtre Gymnase-dramatique, 4 April 1860).

In 1864 Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) adapted the comedy as an operetta in one act called Die Hanni weint, der Hansi lacht ("Hanni who cries and Hansi who laughs"), in German (with a libretto by an unnamed author) and Jeanne qui Pleure et Jeanne qui Rit in French (with a libretto by Charles Nuitter (1828-1899) and Etienne Tréfeu ).

Scott's play (perhaps based on the one act opera) was written shortly after, and refers to the battle of Rorke's Drift in Natal (1879). First performed at the the Prince of QWales Theatre, Liverpool on 27th October, 1881, later at the St James's Theatre, London, on with Jessie Milward and Brandon Thomas. Performed at Wallack's Theatre, New York in May, 1883. It was also performed Vaudeville Theatre, London on 11 October, 1897, playing till 2 February 1898.

Originally published in English by Samuel French in 1881, as French's acting edition, no. 1784.; and again in London and New York by Macmillan in 1899.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1885: Performed as The Cape Mail in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, produced by Mr H.C. Sidney and partner Mr H.J. Fiedler during the course of the year.


Ruth Silvestre. 2009. Final Perormance. Troubador Publishing Ltd: p.42[3]

Jerold Savory and Patricia Marks. 1985. The Smiling Muse: Victoriana in the Comic PressAssociated University Presses: p.[4]

J.P. Wearing. 2013. The London Stage 1890-1899: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel. Scarecrow Press: p. 358[5]

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 1923. (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. 381.

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