Military Entertainment

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Military Entertainment is a reference to formal (professional) entertainment in military units, as well as amateur (voluntary) companies founded and run by commissioned soldiers, sailors etc.

The concept and its impact

The idea of entertainment for troops and sailors is a very old and continuing tradition worldwide, dating from such diverse sources as the performances and rituals enacted by sailors on long voyages and soldiers on the battlefield in Europe, China, the Americas, Africa and elsewhere, leading even to more formal systems and structures - as the many theatres built in various parts of the world by the Romans during their long campaigns.

In South Africa theatrical ventures by occupying military forces have had an enormous impact on the evolution of the theatrical system in the country, also leading to the construction of venues, the introduction of European modes of performance, writing and criticism, etc.

The companies

There are many names given to the various companies of military entertainers over the years. Among them:

In the 19th century:

The Amateur Company

The Amateurs of the Band

The Band Amateurs

The Band of Amateurs).

The English Theatricals

The Garrison Amateur Company

The Garrison Players

The Gentlemen Amateur Company (circa 1828)

The Gentlemen Amateurs

The Officers of the Garrison

The Sergeants' Dramatic Club

The Sergeants of the Regiment

The Serjeants' Dramatic Club

The Serjeants of the Regiment

In the 19th century a number of regiments also did productions under their own names, through normally under the umbrella of the Garrison theatrical activities. Among them the 27th Enniskillen Regiment (1838), the 73rd Regiment (also known as Captain Hall's Company, 1850-1852), the 86th Royal Downshire Regiment (1869), and so on.

See also Garrison Theatre

In the 20th century:

Concert parties, including Springbok Frolics, Gypsies, Crazy Gang,

The Union Defence Force Entertainment Unit

The South African Defense Force Entertainment Group

The Anchor Players, Simonstown


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp.

Neville Phillips. 2008. The Stage Struck Me! Leicester: Troubador Publishing Ltd.

Swift, M.1974. "The Union Defence Force Entertainment Group in South Africa (World War II)". Scientia Militaria - South African Journal of Military Studies, [S.l.], feb. 2012. ISSN 2224-0020. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 24 May. 2015.

Ivor Markman. "South African Women's Auxiliary Services"[[2]]

Percy Tucker. 1997. Just the Ticket. My 50 Years in Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.

Temple Hauptfleisch (ed.). 1985a. The Breytie Book: A Collection of Articles on South African Theatre Dedicated to P.P.B. Breytenbach. Johannesburg: The Limelight press.[3]

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