Kathleen Mavourneen

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Kathleen Mavourneen is the name given to a number of dramatic works, all deriving from and/or inspired by Kathleen Mavourneen, a sentimental song written in 1837, composed by Frederick Crouch with lyrics by a Mrs. Crawford, and novels also inspired by the song.

For more on the song and its influence, see the Wikipedia entry on "Kathleen Mavourneen" at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Mavourneen.

Discussed here are dramatic works produced in South Africa

The plays

Kathleen Mavourneen, or St Patrick's Eve by William Travers (1862)

Kathleen Mavourneen, or St Patrick's Eve is a drama in three acts by William Travers (c.1824-1880)[], first produced in 1862 at the Pavillion Theatre, and then opened in New York 9 November, 1863

The text was published in New York by Samuel French, ca. 1868 and in Chicago by the Dramatic Pub. Co. at approximately the same time.

A review of a subsequent performance at the Royal Theatre, Scarborough, called it "a wretchedly bad copy of The Colleen Bawn and Peep o'Day combined" (The Era, 27 November, 1864[1])

The play they based the films on have often been attributed to Dion Boucicault (e.g by Gifford, 1991:16), but there is some about this since there is no record of a play by this name in any list of Boucicault's work.

Translations and adaptations

F.C.L. Bosman (1980: p.) refers to the play presented in South Africa by the title Kathleen Mavourneen and calls it a "burlesque", which may imply another version, based on the original three act play. However, given the kind of patriotic Irish work often done by Roebuck and the fact that the play was in occasion the main feature of the evening's entertainment, does suggest that the play done in Cape Town in the 1870s was the original work by Travers. Unless Roebuck and his cast had done their own travesty version of the play of course.

Besides the plays and novels, several silent films have been made of the story, the first produced in 1906 starring Kitty O'Neil, Walter Griswoll and H.L. Bascomb. Other such silent films were produced in 1911, 1913 and 1919, the last of these starring Theda Bara. Two sound films with this title were produced, in 1930 and 1937.[] A number of theise films are claimed to have been based on a play by Dion Boucicault, but this is unlikely. The play referred to is almost certainly that by Travers.

Performance history in South Africa

1876: Performed as Kathleen Mavourneen (seemingly billed as a burlesque, no author mentioned) by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Athenaeum Hall, Cape Town, on 22 April, with Black Ey'd Susan (Burnand).

1876: Performed as Kathleen Mavourneen by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Athenaeum Hall, Cape Town, on 23 May, with two poems (The Raven by E.A. Poe and Shamus O'Brien by J.S. Le Fanu) recited by Mr Fairclough, a song by Miss E. Seyton and a dance by Miss Duggan.



"Kathleen Mavourneen", Irish Film & TV Research Online - Trinity College Dublin[2]

Janet Murphy and Eileen Chamberlain The Poor Man's Daughter, A Return to The Colleen Bawn, Lulu.com[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, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.338-9, 344

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