La Priére des Naufragés

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La Priére des Naufragés ("Prayer of the Wrecked") is a French melodrama in five acts by Adolphe d'Ennery (1811-1899)[1] and Ferdinand Dugué (1816-1913)[2].

The original text

First performed at the Théâtre de l'Ambigu-Comique on October 20, 1853, and published by J-A Lelong, Paris, in the same year.

Translations and adaptations

Adapted into English by T.W. Robertson and produced by Benjamin Nottingham Webster at the Adelphi Theatre, London, under the title The Thirst for Gold, or the Lost Ship and the Wild Flower of Mexico on December 4, 1853. Also found are a number of other versions by other producers, such as The Struggle for Gold (23 January, 1854), The Struggle for Gold and the Orphan of the Frozen Sea (20 February, 1854), and Prayer in the Storm (28 March, 1874). In America it was produced as The Sea of Ice in a popular version by Laura Keene, opening at her New York theatre on November 5, 1857.

The text published in London by T.H. Lacy as The Sea of Ice, or The Prayer of the Wrecked and The Gold-Seeker of Mexico, a romantic drama in five acts, probably in 1853(?). The title Prayer of the Wrecked is also found for the publication and it has apparently also been published as The Sea of Ice, or A Thirst for Gold and The Wild Flower of Mexico and the piece has been billed for performances as The Sea of Ice, or The Thirst for Gold (e.g. by Sefton Parry in 1860).

Performance history in South Africa

1860: Performed as The Sea of Ice, or The Thirst for Gold by Sefton Parry and his company in the Cape Town Theatre on 21 and 22 May, with Wanted 1000 Milliners (Coyne), a dance by Miss Powell and the Barley-Sugar Polka by "a New Comedian from London". The décor for the plays designed and painted by Thomas Baines, and including the novel "Scenic Mechanism" used for the field of ice and the breaking up of the ship.

August 6, 1862: "The Grand Romantic Drama of The Sea Of Ice, was presented by members of the Port Elizabeth Volunteer Corps (later Prince Alfred's Guard), under the patronage of Captain Alfred Carrington Wylde (later Colonel), Captain Kemp, officers and members." (venue ???).

1867: Performed as The Sea of Ice by the Le Roy-Duret Company (now led by Madame Duret on her own) on 1 and 3 July in the Theatre Royal, in Harrington Street, Cape Town, with an unnamed farce. Set constructed and painted by R.S. Cooper.

1867: Repeated by the Le Roy-Duret Company 8 July, with Bombastes Furioso (Rhodes).

1877: Performed as The Sea of Ice by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town on 1, 2 and 4 October in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, the last evening accompanied by a ballad by Miss Wynne.


Facsimile version of the French text, Gallica:Bibliothèque Nationale de France[3]

Some Aspects of Play Productions in the English and Parallel Medium Seconday Schools of the Eastern Cape, 1822 - 1977 by M E H Dickerson.

Transcribed version of the T.H. Lacy text[4]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.70, 87, 90, 91, 227, 229, 361

William Groom. 1899-1900. Drama in Cape Town. Cape Illustrated Magazine, 10(4): 478-481, 517-520, 547-552, 580-584, 640-643, 670-672, 706-708.

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