Mr H. Booth (**-**) was a professional British actor manager. Often referred to simply as Mr Booth.
A professional actor from the Theatre Royal in London. Apparently unrelated to any of the famous theatrical Booth families in England and the USA, but clearly experienced.
Booth arrived in Cape Town in 1829 on his way to perform in New South Wales, but never reached it, for he remained in Cape Town for the next four years, before returning to England in 1833, evidently having done well enough to retire on the proceeds of his time in Cape Town.
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
On his arrival in Cape Town in 1829, Booth - like most performers "playing the Empire" - offered to do a few performances during his lay-over. Beginning in November, 1829, he thus initially presented a few works with the help of various local amateur performers, playing the lead in such as standard works as Sheridan's Pizarro, or The Death of Rolla, Jerrold's Black-Eyed Susan, or All in the Downs, Shakespeare's Othello, or The Moor of Venice and Colman's The Wags of Windsor.
The success of these ventures led him to stay on for a while, to found the new English Amateur Company (or the British Amateur Company) in 1830, under the revived motto of All the World's a Stage.
Between 1830 and 1832 the new company presented numerous plays under his guidance (see All the World's a Stage). He announced his return to England and supposedly ended his stay in the Cape with excerpts from the The Merchant of Venice.
However, it appears he either went home and returned, or did not go, for in 1832 he is sometimes involved in productions by the company, though no longer its manager. On 9 March 1833 a benefit performance of Wild Oats, or The Strolling Gentleman (O'Keefe) and The Spectre Bridegroom (Montcrieffe) was held for him by the company, before he actually departed.
The critic for The Commercial Advertiser criticised Booth's acting, particularly in the more serious roles, such as Shakespeare, but he was popular, as a professional in a predominantly amateur society had a recognisable influence on English theatricals in Cape Town.
F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. : pp. 194, 203-4, 209-220, 225, 242-3, 368, 370-1, 380 and 388
Du Toit, 1988
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