Sherlock Holmes

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sherlock Holmes is a four-act play by William Gillette (1853–1937)[1] and Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930)[2]

The original text

Based on Conan Doyle's popular character Sherlock Holmes, and inspired by a request from the American theatrical producer Charles Frohman for rights to the stories, Conan Doyle wrote a five-act play featuring Holmes and Professor Moriarty. Frohman, who felt that the text was not ready for production, suggested that the actor/playwright William Gillette be asked to rewrite the play.

The new play drew material from the published stories "A Scandal in Bohemia", "The Final Problem" and "A Study in Scarlet", with additional new material. In view of the origins Conan Doyle was credited as a co-author, even though Gillette wrote the play.

The play, featuring Gillette as Holmes, had three previews at the Star Theatre, New Jersey, opening on October 23, 1899, and then moved to the Garrick Theatre on Broadway, New York, where it premiered on November 6, 1899. It was produced by Charles Frohman, with incidental music by William Furst and scenic design by Ernest Gros. The production toured the USA and moved on to London's Lyceum Theatre in September 1901.

Translations and adaptations

Beginning with a silent film version of the Gillette/Conan Doyle play, also entitled Sherlock Holmes (1916), a large number of films, radio and TV programmes have been made over the years, featuring the Holmes character.

Performance history in South Africa

1902-3: Performed in the Gillette/Conan Doyle version by Leonard Rayne and company at the Opera House, Cape Town, under the auspices of the Mouillot-De Jong Company, as part of a season of musical comedy and light opera beginning in December of 1902 and running into 1903.


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 1923. (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: pp.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants, carnivals and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page