Joseph Ashman

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Mr Joseph Ashman (18**-19**) was a performer and producer.

Besides the obvious name of the Joseph Ashman Company, his own company was also referred to as theJoseph Ashman Group or simply the Ashman Group.


Little is known of his personal life, but he was described as a fine actor, most probably born and trained in England. He was active in Cape Town between 1890 and 1916, part of the time as an actor for Leonard Rayne.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Ashman made his debut in South Africa with the Hirshfield Theatre Company in 1888, appearing in a season that included included Sweet Lavender (Pinero), The Arabian Nights (Collier-Edwards and Dudley) and In His Power (Quinton).

He was thereafter also a member of the Chambers Theatrical Company in Cape Town in 1890, for which he appeared in plays such as The Bells of Haslemere and In the Ranks (Sims), as well as in The Ticket-of-Leave Man (Taylor) in 1892.

In 1894 the "Ashman Group" put on a short season in Cape Town's Opera House, consisting of Francillon (Dumas), Therese (Anon) and Sunlight and Shadow (R.C. Carton). Hereafter we find occasional references to Ashman, e.g. in 1900 when he did a production of The Cuckoo (Charles H. Brookfield after Décoré by Meilhac) at the Opera House Cape Town, and in early 1905 when he appeared in Leonard Rayne's production of Charley's Aunt (Thomas) in the same theatre. On the 30th April, 1906 he and Leonard Rayne appeared together as the two brothers in The Corsican Brothers (Dumas/Boucicault) at the Opera House. His final appearance in Cape Town was apparently in Who's Brown? (Wyatt) at the Opera House, again for Leonard Rayne.

According to D.C. Boonzaier (1923), he thereafter settled in Cradock, where he organised amateur theatrical presentations from time to time.


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, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 387, 390-391, 400, 408, 422, 425, 427.

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