Madame Pearmain

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Madame Pearmain (fl.1880s) was a South African theatrical manager.

According to Boonzaier (1923) she "was always styled" "Madam" or "Madam Pearmain" in Cape Town.


Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

In 1886 Madame Pearmain brought a number of newly recruited performers from England to form a company made up of both British and local performers, including as Emily Levettez, Adolphus Ellis and W.H. Thorne.

According to Boonzaier (1923), her company was referred to as Madame Pearmain's Company, while Myles Holloway (1997), writing about theatre in Johannesburg, mentions the popular melodramas of a company known as Madame Pearmain's Diplomacy Company appearing at the Theatre Royal in Johannesburg in 1887. This seems to be a reference to the Johannesburg period of the company , since it included a performances of Sardou's popular play Diplomacy in its repertoire.

(This is apparently not to be confused with The Diplomacy Company of E.A. Elton, which was presumably also linked to performances of the Sardou play.)

On her arrival they opened a short season at the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 22 November, putting on a season of eleven plays consisting of The Jilt (Boucicault), The Money Spinner (Pinero), Jim the Penman (Young), Diplomacy (Sardou), The Magistrate (Pinero), Turned Up (Melford), Blackberries (Melford), The Ironmaster (Ohnet) , School (Robertson) , The Queen's Shilling (Godfrey), Dandy Dick (Pinero) and Nita's First (Warren).

The company then travelled to other parts of the country with its repertoire, appearing in J. Mipping's newly constructed Theatre Royal in Johannesburg in it opening year, 1887.


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 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.383

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