Trente Ans, ou La Vie d'un Joueur

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Trente Ans, ou La Vie d'un Joueur ("thirty years, or the life of gambler") is a melodrama by Victor Ducange (1783-1833)[1] and Dinaux (1795-1859)[2].

Sometimes simply referred to as La Vie d'un Joueur or Le Joueur

The original text

Originally written by Jacques Félix Beudin[3] and Prosper Goubaux (1795-1859)[4], using the pseudonym "Dinaux", and then reworked by Victor Ducange (1783-1833)[5]. Described as a "Mélodrame en trois journées" ("A melodrama in three days").

It was first performed in Paris at the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin, on 19 June 1827,with Frédérick Lemaître in the lead. Music by Alexandre Piccini, entertainment ("divertissement") by Corally and décor by Lefebvre.

Published in Paris by Barba in 1827, credited to "MM Victor Ducange et Dinaux" only, with no mention of the original co-author, Jacques Félix Beudin. The play became quite a success and was republished and performed many times, right into the 20th century. A film was made of it in 1975.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English as The Gambler's Fate, or A Lapse of Twenty Years by Charles Thompson, and adapted as a drama in two act "Founded on the Popular French Play of La Vie d'un Joueur". First performed in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 15 October, 1827 and published in 1828 by J. Cumberland in Cumberland's British Theatre, volume 17 (Cumberland's British Theatre: With Remarks, Biographical & Critical. Printed from the Acting Copies, as Performed at the Theatres Royal, London, edited by George Daniel and Thomas Dolby: with a woodcut by Bonner, based on a drawing by Cruikshank).

There is another version called The Gambler's Fate, or Thirty Years of a Gamester's Life, purportedly by Henry M. Milner, performed in New York in the Park Theatre (1828) and the Bowery Theatre (1851), and published in New York by Samuel French, in French's Standard Drama. Acting edition. no. 192 (186?). However, the entry on the text by Princeton University Library[6] has the following amendment: "Not, in fact, by Milner, but Charles Thompson. The text is identical to that published in Cumberland's British theatre, v. 17, as The gambler's fate, or, A lapse of twenty years, written by Thompson and based on the French play La vie d'un jouer. Thompson's work may have been confused with a play by Milner on the same subject and produced in the same year entitled The hut of the red mountain, or, Thirty years of a gamester's life, based on the same French work by Ducange, in collaboration with Beudin and Goubaux."

Also known simply as The Gambler's Fate, the translations were hugely popular during the mid 18th century in London.

Translated into Dutch as Dertig Jaren, of Het Leven van een Dobbelaar. Apparently, according to documents in the Dutch archival collection "Stukken betreffende leden van de families Vitringa en Van Delden"[7], it was copied from the first performance by A.J. van Delden Stevenz and his text is subtitled "Melodrama in drie tijdperken".

However the first published Dutch translation, as Dertig Jaren, of Het Leven van een Dobbelaar ("thirty years, or the life of a gambler"), is credited to Bernard Anthoine Fallée (1773-1847)[8], subtitled a "tooneelspel, dat in drie dagen afspeelt" ("a play which takes place in three days") and published in Amsterdam by J.C. van Kesteren, 1828.

Performance history in South Africa

According to F.C.L. Bosman (1928, p 213), its first production in Cape Town in 1830 by H. Booth and All the World's a Stage led to a great deal of critique for the presentation and the text, which the critic of the South African Commercial Advertiser said was "a clumsy adaptation from the German". In response "A British Amateur", writing in the De Zuid-Afrikaan, stated (correctly) that it was in fact an "almost literal translation" of the French play La Vie d'un Joueur. However, despite the criticism, it seems to have been to everyone's taste.

1830: Performed in English as The Gambler's Fate by H. Booth and All the World's a Stage on 5 June, with The Miller's Maid (Saville) as afterpiece.

1830: Repeated by popular demand in English as The Gambler's Fate by H. Booth and All the World's a Stage on 19 June, with Charles the Second, or The Merry Monarch (Payne) on 19 June.

1835: Performed in English as The Gambler's Fate, or A Lapse of Twenty Years by the Private Amateur Company on 25 May, with a play named as Mr Thompson, or Which is He? (Anon) as afterpiece. (The latter play most probably Monsieur Tonson by Moncrieff.) The performance was a benefit for Mr Whiley.

1836: Performed in Dutch by Tot Nut en Vermaak on 28 October in Cape Town, with as afterpiece to De Deserteur (Von Kotzebue).

1837: Performed in Dutch by the Stellenbossche Liefhebbery Tooneel - Stellenbosch Amateur Theatre (under the motto Door Yver Vruchtbaar) on 19 August, 1837 in Stellenbosch , with as afterpiece to De Uniformrok van den Veldmaarschalk Wellington (Von Kotzebue).


Facsimile of the 1827 French text (Google eBook)[9]

Facsimile of the 1828 English text by Thompson (Google eBook)[10]

Facsimile of the Dutch text (Google eBook)[11]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [12]: pp.213-4, 248, 255

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