The Rivals

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The Rivals a comedy of manners by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816) [1].

Though popularly known as The Rivals today, the original and full title of the play is actually: The Rivals, or A Trip to Bath.

The original text

It was the young Sheridan's first play and it premiered at Covent Garden Theatre on 17 January 1775, and published as The Rivals, or A Trip to Bath in the same year by John Wilkie.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Dutch as De Medeminnaars by M.P. Lindo and published by Kruseman, Haarlem: 1871.

Translated and adapted into Afrikaans as Liefde in Satyn ("Love in satin") by the members of the André Rousseau Theatre Company in 1947.

Performances in South Africa

1807: Performed in the African Theatre, Cape Town by the Garrison Players on 9 July (originally having been announced for 4 July), with The Old Maid (Murphy) and an epilogue written an spoken by Captain Collins. Mrs Kinniburgh was also one of the performers.

1808: Performed by the Garrison Players on 22 September (originally having been planned for 10 September) in the African Theatre, with Miss in her Teens, or, The Medley of Lovers (Garrick), and a variety programme including songs and gymnastic presentations (the latter billed as "by students of Astley"). The evening is a benefit for the widows and orphans of the 89th Regiment. Bosman[2] (1928: p.76) cites the titles from a Dutch advert, as De Medeminnaars and Het Meisje boven de Tien.

1811: Performed by the Garrison Players on 17 August in the African Theatre, with The Mock Doctor, or The Dumb Lady Cur'd (Fielding).

1822: Performed in the African Theatre, with The Prisoner at Large (O'Keeffe), on Monday 28 October by the Garrison Amateur Company, as a benefit performance for Mrs Smith, Mrs Delamore and Mrs Green.

1823: Performed by the Amateur Company of the Garrison, in the African Theatre, Cape Town on 28 June, with Bombastes Furioso (Rhodes) as an afterpiece. The performance was to benefit of "the widow and seven children of John Inglesby".

1837: Performed in Grahamstown in this year by the Grahamstown Amateur Company, performing under the motto Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense and in a small venue was apparently "got up" by individuals referred to in the prologue as Rathbone, I'Ons and Turvey, who presumably also participated in the performances. It was followed by Bombastes Furioso (Rhodes) as afterpiece.

1838: Performed on 2 April by the 27th Enniskillen Regiment (see Garrison Players) in "The Theatre, New Barracks" (see Barracks Theatre) with The Irish Widow (Garrick).

1838: It was apparently performed in Grahamstown again in this year by the Grahamstown Amateur Company, performing under the motto Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense (Though there is some difference of opinion between F.C.L. Bosman and P.W. Laidler on whether it was not perhaps the performance in Cape Town - see Bosman, 1928: pp. 388-9).

1855: Performed by the Amateur Theatrical Society Port Elizabeth in the new Port Elizabeth Theatre (or The Lyceum) in August, with The Fast Train (Anon.).

1860: Performed on the Eastern Cape Border on 8 October by the Officers of the North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot. The cast consisted of Captain H. R. Vigors (Sir Anthony Absolute), Lieutenant C. P. Fitzgibbon (Sir Lucias O'Trigger), Captain G. E. Bulger (Faulkland), Captain G. C. Bartholomew (Captain Absolute), Lieutenant R. Annealy (Bob Acres), Lieutenant C. H. Newbatt (Fag), Lieutenant J. Craig (David), Lieutenant H. T. Snooke (Coachman), Lieutenant C. A. Armstrong (Mrs Malaprop), Ensign A. Fraser (Lydia Languish), Lance Corporal J. Davies (Julia Melville), Corporal G. Brown (Lucy), and Private J. Durney (Julia's maid). Stage Manager: Lieutenant J. Craig, Prompter: Sergeant-major T. H. Smith, Attendants: Drummers D. Egan and R. M. M'Sweeny (dressed as pages.) This was followed by a performance of The Camp at Chobham (Lemon) by the Sergeants of the North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot. (See the entry on the North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot for contemporaneous commentary on the performance.)

1860:There was a repeat performance of The Rivals and The Camp at Chobham by the North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot on 12 October, with the same casts in both cases. The Regimental Band, however, played the overture from Auber's opera Masaniello.

1860: Performed for on 29 October in the Cabinet Theatre, Cape Town, by the Cape Town Dramatic Club with The Spectre Bridegroom (Moncrieff).

1860: Performed for on 5 November in the Cabinet Theatre, Cape Town, by the Cape Town Dramatic Club with Guilty of Not-Guilty (Dibdin), with a performance by the brass band of the Cape Royal Rifles.

1860: On Christmas day a travesty or pantomimic version of Sheridan's play, described as "a grand Balletical (sic) Introduction" (entitled The Rivals), was performed by the North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot. This was followed by the Ethiopean Serenaders with songs and dances "as performed by Christy's Minstrels", and an unnamed "Historical, Melodramatical, Balletical, Burlesque, Operatical Pantomime", in two acts, written by a member of the Dramatic Club.

1861: Performed in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town by the Cape Town and Royal Alfred Dramatic Club on 1 August, with The Bonnie Fishwife (Selby) and a dance by Lizzie Powell.

1875: Performed as The Rivals, or A Trip to Bath in in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town, by Disney Roebuck and his company on 19 April, with Miss Berenger as "Mrs Malaprop". Also played was Sarah's Young Man (Suter).

1876: Performed in in the Athenaeum Hall, Cape Town, by Disney Roebuck and his company on 28 April, with Turn Him Out (Williams).

191*: Performed in Pretoria by **, featuring Lionel B. Stent,

1944: Produced by the Johannesburg Repertory Society, featuring Jessie Bryant.

1947: Performed in Afrikaans as Liefde in Satyn by the André Rousseau Theatre Company, directed by André Rousseau, with Fanie Bekker (Sir Antonius Absoluut), André Rousseau (Sir Lucius O’Trigger), Zandberg Jansen (Kaptein Absoluut), Estelle Pentz (Mev. Malaprop), Marie Viljoen (Lydia), Hannes Muller (Thomas and Mnr. Akkers), Helene van der Berg (Julia and Lizzie), Nico Lombard (Stompies) and Leon Trichardt (Mnr. Volkland), with sets and costumes by the painter David Botha and stage management by Fanie Bekker. The play premièred in Paarl on 1 March and the production then moved to the Hofmeyr Theatre in Cape Town, before going on a national tour of the the Union of South Africa.

1955: Presented by the University of Cape Town's Speech and Drama Department in May at the Little Theatre, directed by Rosalie van der Gucht.

1967: Performed in the H.B. Thom Theatre by the University Theatre Stellenbosch (UTS) in April 1967. Directed by Jocelyn de Bruyn and Ben Dehaeck with Tine Balder as "Mrs Malaprop", Mees Xteen as "Acres", Piers Nicholson as "Sir Lucius", Carina Fick as "Lydia", John Cartwright as "Jack", and Jocelyn de Bruyn as "Sir Anthony Absolute". The rest of the cast included Leoné Schenk, Bettina Camerer, Crismont Greeff, Johan Esterhuizen and Esther Brandt. Decor and costumes by Elaine Aucamp, choreography by Gisela Taeger, lighting by Pieter de Swardt. Music arranged for the hapsichord and played by Boudewijn Scholten.

1969: Produced by PACOFS, opening on 29 January in the Civic Theatre, Bloemfontein. Directed by Roy Sargeant for PACOFS, with Joyce Bradley as Mrs Malaprop, Ralph Lawson as Captain Jack Absolute, Wilson Dunster as Bob Acres, Raymond Davies as Faulkland. Others in the cast were Maryann Johnston, Piers Nicholson, Hudson Earp, Tirzah Lowenstein, Carmen Haddad, Roy Sargeant, Ivor Levin, George Barnes, Johan Botha, Michael J. Lovegrove, Temple Hauptfleisch, Estelle Eilers. Set and costumes by Bill Smuts.

1977: Performed by NAPAC. The cast included Nigel Daly, Terrick Fitzhugh, Marcelle Mitchell, Ingride Mollison

1983: Staged by PACT, directed by Michael Atkinson, with John Hussey (Sir Anthony Absolute), James White (Capt Absolute), James Borthwick (Bob Acres), Joey Wishnia (David), Pauline Bailey (Mrs Malaprop), Pamela Gien (Lydia Languishi), Briony Mortimer (Julia), Susan Gehr (Lucy), Wilson Dunster (Faulkland), John Lesley (Sir Lucius O'Trigger), Anthony James (Coachman) and Alan Swerdlow (Fag). Designed by Andrew Botha and lighting by Stan Knight.


Stage and Cinema, 4(82), 24 Feb 1917, p. 18.

Trek, 8(24):18.

Die Burger, 6 March 1947.

André Rousseau Theatre Company programme for Liefde in Satyn.

Inskip, 1972.

The Rivals theatre programme (UTS), 1967.

Teater SA, 1(3), 1969.

PACT theatre programme, 1983.

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988.

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. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [3]: pp. 71, 75-6, 142, 182, 184, 196, 210, 388, 509.

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 154-161, 332, 339.

North Lincoln Sphinx Vol 1, No 3. November 1, 1860.

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