Le Roy and Duret Company

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The Le Roy and Duret Company is name of a British theatrical company constituted and active in Cape Town between 1866 and 1868.

Also referred to as Le Roy and Duret, Leroy and Duret, Le Roy-Duret Company, Leroy's Original Company, Leroy's Company or Le Roy's Company. Also found inverted here and there, i.e. Duret and Le Roy, etc.

The company

The company was named after and led by J.H. le Roy and Madame Duret (possibly his wife, and the leading actress for the company), and formed in Cape Town from local performers when the two arrived (probably from Port Elizabeth) in 1866. They leased and had renovated the Harrington Street Theatre (which they later renamed the Theatre Royal) and there, as well as select other venues, presented a large number of productions over the course of a number of "seasons" till May 1867, when Le Roy left for England to engage new performers. In the intervening season Madame Duret is the sole lessee of the theatre in Cape Town, and the works are fewer.

On Le Roy's return in September 1867, the company was reconstituted and strengthened by the addition of the new players, and went on to perform a few more seasons until 1868, when they finally depart from the Cape.

The players and other people involved with the company over the course of the approximately four years they worked in the Cape included

South African Performances

First season (1866)

This season ran from January to September of 1866 in the newly renovated Harrington Street Theatre, Cape Town, and included one or more performances of Lucretia Borgia (Weston), A Duel in the Dark (Coyne), The Soldier's Daughter (Cherry), Hunting a Turtle (Selby), Fazio, or The Italian Wife's Revenge (Milman), The Creole (Brooks), The Four Sisters, or Woman's Worth and Woman's Wrongs (Bernard), Medea (Euripides), Turn Him Out (Williams), The Momentous Question, or Woman's Devotion (Fitzball), Captain Charlotte, or Hearts and Trumps (Stirling?/Lemon?), The Lady of Lyons (Bulwer-Lytton/Byron), The Married Rake (Selby), The French Spy, or The Wild Arab of the Desert (Aubert), The Actress of All Work (Oxberry), Winning a Husband (Buckstone), Camille or Traviata (Dumas), Love in Humble Life (Scribe and Dupin/Payne), The Dear Admiral (Anon.), The Stranger (Von Kotzebue), The Area Belle (Brough and Halliday), Look Before You Leap (Lovell), A Devilish Good Joke, or A Night's Frolic (Higgie), The Bride of Lammermoor (Scott/ Calcraft), Sam's Arrival (Oxenford), Still Waters Run Deep (Taylor), The Green Bushes (Buckstone), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare), A Day After the Wedding (Kemble), The Octoroon, or Life in Louisiana (Boucicault) and Bachelor's Buttons (Striling),

Second season (1866-1867)

This season ran from 18 June, 1866 to 28 May, 1867 in the Harrington Street Theatre, Cape Town. The season fell into three parts,

The repertoire included one or more performances of The Mutiny at the Nore (Jerrold), On the Sly (Morton), a Great Comic Shadow Pantomime (), The Flowers of the Forest (Buckstone), Easy Shaving (Burnand and Williams)

Third season (Mrs Duret, 1867)

This season ran from 10 June to 17 September 1867 under the sole management of Mrs Duret, while Le Roy was in England.

Fourth Season (new company, 1867-1868)

This season ran from 25 September 1867 to 14 August 1868, the first part till March of 1868 initially in the Theatre Royal, later (January to March, 1868) in the Commercial Exchange and the Mutual Hall, after the theatre had burnt down in Jannuary. Then followed the second, shorter, part of the season, with a "scratch company", utilising local amateurs, which ran from 4 May till 14 August 1868, performing in the Oddfellows Hall.

Besides their own productions, the company also participated in a few charitable events, such as a Great Promenade Concert in support of the Good Hope Lodge, held in the Good Hope Gardens on 7 February, and included a performance of their "celebrated Shadow Pantomime as lately produced at the Theatre Royal". The concert also involved the 9th Regimentand the military band led by Signor Bonicoli.

Another such involvement was a Benefit Performance for the Somerset Hospital in Cape Town (on 4 and 5 March), arranged by the officers of the 9th Regiment in the Theatre Royal.

A third kind of activity was Le Roy's organizational role in a two day Grand Fête held during March of 1868 in the tents used earlier by the Agricultural Exhibition in the Company Gardens, Cape Town. (Because of Le Roy's successful endeavour, this kind of public fête would hereafter become a much more regular feature of the cultural scene in Cape Town.) The fête in this case included three full bands, a "Grand Baby Show", a "Magnificent Kalipha Ceremony", R.S. Cooper's "Cosmorama", a "Cave of Mystery", three troupes of Christy Minstrels, plus performances by Leroy's own "full dramatic company".

Besides a number of so-called Dramatic and Drawing Room Entertainments, consisting of songs, dances and excerpts from various plays (see the ESAT entry on Entertainment), the repertoire of plays put on by the company in the 1867-1878 season included: A Dead Shot (Buckstone), Governor von Brute, or Things as They Might Have Been (Mollan), Delicate Ground (Dance), Good for Nothing (Buckstone) , The Swiss Cottage (Bayly), Family Jars (Lunn), Othello (Shakespeare), Grimshaw, Bagshaw and Bradshaw (Morton), A Rough Diamond (), .


F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 201-242. (Cites William Groom, 1899-1901 to a large extent.)

Carin Berkowitz and Bernard Lightman. 2017. Science Museums in Transition: Cultures of Display in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America. University of Pittsburgh Press[1]


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