La Fantasmagorie

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La Fantasmagorie is the French name for what is known as phantasmagoria, fantasmagorie or fantasmagoria in English.

It is form of theatrical presentation, using a modified version of the magic lantern, smoke, semi-transparent screens, etc to create frightening illusionary effects. The form was developed in France in the late 18th century, it gained popularity through most of Europe (especially England) and the colonies throughout the 19th century.

Performance history in South Africa

1809: A presentation of a "Cantasmagorie" (most probably a misprint for "La Fantasmagorie") was done in Cape Town on 29 August, 1809, along with Les Précieuses Ridicules (Molière) and a ballet by the pupils of J. Riaux.

1809: On 2 December 1809 a presentation entitled La Fantasmagorie was done, as afterpiece to Les Fourberies de Scapin (Molière), "enlarged with 6 live images", by a new Dutch-French company, led by J.H. Meurant, but possibly with the help of J. Riaux.

1837: A Fantasmagorie is presented in Cape Town by M. Decanis of the "Theatre Royal, Paris", on 7 March, 1837, and billed as being in the style of "the celebrated Pantomime of Prof. Le Conte", with a A Fairy Dance and "certain amusements" undertaken by J.J. de Kock as part of an evening's entertainment.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp.127-128; 230-1

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