Thêàtre de L'Union

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Thêàtre de L'Union was the name of a French theatre company briefly active in Cape Town in 1848-9, and the name given to their chosen venue.

The company: Thêàtre de L'Union

It was founded by disillusioned professional French performers from the Dalle Case Company, to provide them with work in Cape Town when Case's company failed. Feeling that Dalle Case had not been able to secure suitable venues for their performances and, in some instances, had not paid them, Messrs L. Victor, C. Crosset and X. Hus, announced the formation of a new theatrical company on 25 March 1848, under the motto "L'Union". It hence became known as the Thêàtre de L'Union (written Theatre de L'Union by Bosman).

The company occasionally used local amateurs for their performance (e.g. Joseph Suasso de Lima sold tickets and acted as prompt; Mr Gale danced; ) and programmes consisted of musical plays, vaudeville, song and dance.

The venue: The Thêàtre de L'Union

They had formerly performed in the Hope Street Theatre (referring to it as the Sans Souci Theatre), and the Garrison Theatre with Dalle Case, but having found these incongenial, the company finally settled into the Drury Lane Theatre which they refurbished and intended to use under the name Thêàtre de L'Union for a run of six successful performances. However, it was soon referred to as the Drury Lane Theatre again.


Their first performance was on Friday March 31, 1848 in the Garrison Theatre and included Les Ressources de Jonathas (wrongly credited to Scribe), a "Great Intermezzo with Song and Dance" and the "tragic scene" of The Last Night of André Chenier (Victor Hugo).

This was followed by a performance in the Garrison Theatre on 26 April (no plays named, but several local children performed a dance).

On 22 June they opened in their new Thêàtre de L'Union and did their six performances creditably, according to the local theatre critic Treble Violl (cit. in Bosman, 1928: p 439). However, the plays performed appear to have been mainly repetitions of previous successes done with the Dalle Case Company.

The company's last performance was on September 25, 1848 in the Commercial Exchange, before the ill-health of Mr C. Crosset and their lack of variety saw them fading into oblivion early in 1849.

[TH, JH]


F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp.437-9; 502

P.W. Laidler. 1926. The Annals of the Cape Stage. Edinburgh: William Bryce.

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