Port Elizabeth Dramatic Club

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The Port Elizabeth Dramatic Club was an amateur dramatic society active from 1863 to 18??, at a time when Port Elizabeth was the second-most important centre for theatre in South Africa. It was perhaps a revival of the Port Elizabeth Dramatic Society and at the height of its activity performances were staged fortnightly.


South African Performance History

On September 23, 1867, the Port Elizabeth Dramatic Club, performed a play “at considerable expense in dresses and general mounting,” written by the local postmaster and playwright, Alexander Wilmot, called The Treasure at the Woody Cape or The Days of Ryk van Tulbach (or possibly as a single title, as was practice at the time: i.e. The Treasure at the Woody Cape, or The Days of Ryk van Tulbach, ). The story dates back to 1760. The first scene opened with the promulgation of the “Pracht and Praal” regulations which declared that “whoever of the female sex, beneath the rank of junior merchant's wives, shall wear silk dresses and embroidery,” would be liable to a fine of 25 rixdollars. This declaration did not make Ryk van Tulbach popular among the ladies. The pirate, Van der Decken, (captain of the legendary Flying Dutchman) captured the ship carrying the wealth belonging to the Governor's niece, Aletta van Breda, to Cape Town. In a plot of deception and kidnapping, the pirate tricks the Governor into breaking up Aletta's engagement. The kidnapped victims escape but are tipped from the boat into the sea. Nevertheless, they survive and end up in a cave at Woody Cape.


P.J. du Toit. 1988. Amateurtoneel in Suid-Afrika. Pretoria: Academica: pp. 30

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