Robben Island Amateurs

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The Robben Island Amateurs was probably an ad hoc amateur company made up of inmates and staff members of the asylum on Robben Island in Cape Town in the mid 19th century (especially in the period 1863-1873).

F.C.L. Bosman (1980, p. 282) records some of the performances by this company (or similar companies on the island), among them:

1865: The Robben Island Amateurs performed a benefit for victims of the great storm that had recently raged (i.e in May 1865). The plays put on were The Patent Ramoneur Company (Anon.), Did I Dream It? (Wooler) and Fearful Tragedy in the Seven Dials (Selby).

1867: During March pieces such as Bombastes Furioso (Rhodes) and De Apotheekwinkel in de Vley (Anon.) were presented, the latter possibly an original piece written by an inmate or staff member for the occasion. Also performed were songs (including the traditional Irish/Celtic song, Brian O'Lynn - wrongly given as as a play called "Brian O'Lunn" by Bosman or his sources).

1869: An unnamed production was put on in January or February, which drew an audience of over 250 people (150 visitors from the mainland) and in September they put on productions of The Boots at the Swan (Selby) and Turn Him Out (Williams).

1873: A successful presentation was also done at the start of the year (possibly 1 April), led by Dr Biccard, superintendant of the asylum, though what was on the programme is not known.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 268,282-4, 448

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