The Octoroon, or Life in Louisiana
Popularly referred to simply as The Octoroon.
The original text
Boucicault's melodrama about the love between a white man and an octoroon girl (i.e. a girl of one-eighth African descent) was a stage adaptation of the novel The Quadroon, or A Lover's Adventures in Louisiana (1856) by Thomas Mayne Reid (1818-1883), about the residents of a Louisiana plantation called Terrebonne.
The play was first staged in 1859 at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City, and became extremely popular, running continuously for years, and performed by seven road companies. It was considered second in popularity only to the varuious adaptations of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852-3). The novel and the play sparked debates about the abolition of slavery, and in the latter case about the role of theatre in politics.
According to Boucicault, he had to change the ending of the play when it was produced in England, giving it a happy ending. Thereafter both versions were performed. However, that assertion has since been debated and his motives questioned. (See for example the article "Boucicault's misdirections: Race, transatlantic theatre and social position in The Octoroon" in the journal Atlantic Studies, Volume 6, 2009.)
The text published in London by John Dicks and by De Witt Publishing House, New York, in 1859.
Translations and adaptations
Performance history in South Africa
1866: Performed in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 24 May by the Le Roy and Duret Company, with Bachelor's Buttons (Stirling), as a "complimentary Testimonial to the favourite artiste Mme. Duret by her Admirers".
1914 - Performed at the Palladium Theatre, Johannesburg, opening on 5 October 1914. Produced by Edward Vincent, the cast included Ethel Bracewell, Stephen Scanlan, Austin Milroy, Shelagh Conway, Florence Creagh, Frank Lynne, Dick Cruikshanks, Herbert Lewis, Cecil De Lee and Martha Rowson.
Facsimile/transcript version of The Quadroon, in Louisiana Anthology/Anthologie Louisianaise (edited by Bruce R. Magee and Stephen Payne)
Rand Daily Mail, 6 October 1914
World Drama, by Allardyce Nicoll.
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