Masks and Faces, or Before and Behind the Curtain

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Masks and Faces, or Before and Behind the Curtain is a comedy by Tom Taylor ( 1817–1880)[1] and Charles Reade (1814-1884)[2].

Also referred to simply as Masks and Faces

The original text

Based on the life of the Irish actress Peg Woffington (1720-1760)[3], the play was first produced by Benjamin Webster in November, 1852; and played 103 nights at the Haymarket and Adelphi Theatres.

The text published as Masks and Faces, or Before and Behind the Curtain by Richard Bentley in 1854

It appears the play may have been performed under the title of Peg Woffington as well.

Translations and adaptations

Because of the success of the play, Reade wrote a novel called Peg Woffington and these works in turn led to a number of films, including Peg Woffington (1910 & 1912), Masks and Faces (1917) and Peg of Old Drury (1935).

Performance history in South Africa

1867: Performed as Masks and Faces by the James Leffler in the Theatre Royal in Harrington Street, Cape Town, on 20 December, with Cramond Brig (Murray).

1901: A play called Peg Woffington was produced in the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town, during September by the Wheeler Theatre Company with American actress Nance O'Neill in the leading role.

1902: Produced again in the Good Hope Theatre by the Wheeler Theatre Company during February, once more with Nance O'Neill in the lead.


Transcript version of the 1859 text by Bentley, The Project Gutenberg EBook[4]

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. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.220

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