The Rifle and How to Use It

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The Rifle and How to Use It is a farce in one act by J. V. Bridgeman (1819-1889)[1].

Also known as The British Volunteers in South Africa and (possibly, but improbably - see below) as The Rino, and How to Use It in Australia.

The original text

First performed in the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, on 20 September 1859, and published in London by Thomas Hailes Lacy in the same year.

Translations and adaptations

According to The Argus, Melbourne, a play referred to as The Rino, and How to Use It, featuring the exact same characters, was performed at , at the Pantheon Theatre, Cremorne Gardens, Melbourne on 16 January, 1860. (In this case, the word "Rino" could have been a misreading of "Rifle" in the digitizing process of the original newspaper article used as source here.) In South Africa it was performed under the title The British Volunteers on occasion.

Neither the above were actually adaptations as far as one can tell.

Performance history in South Africa

1860: Performed as The Rifle and How to Use It in the Harrington Street Theatre, Cape Town, by the Sefton Parry company on 14 February, under the patronage of the Cape Volunteer Corps. It played as afterpiece to Grist to the Mill, or The Miser of Verdun (Planché).

1860: Performed as The British Volunteers (no author given) by the Amateurs of the Band on November 26 in the Garrison Theatre of Grahamstown or Keiskama Hoek on the Eastern Cape border. The cast consisted of W. Dansie (Mr Percival Floff), J. M'Kechnie (Mr Sydney Jubkins), T. Brooker (Alfred Charles Mutton, a policeman), W. Allan (Pad), M. Rafferty (Mrs Percival Floff), J. F. Gay (Mrs Sydney Jubkins), J. Durney (Mary). Also performed were The Review, or The Wags of Windsor and The Wandering Minstrel

1861: Performed again on the Eastern Cape border as The British Volunteers, by the Amateurs of the Band, and using the same cast, on October 14, along with Slasher and Crasher (Morton), The Irish Tutor (Butler) and Bombastes Furioso (Rhodes).


Facsimile version of the 1859 Lacy edition, Hathitrust Digital Library[2]

North Lincoln Sphinx Vol 1, No 4. Christmas, 1860.

S.J. Shapiro. ‎2011 The British Army in Home Defense, 1844-1871: Militia and Volunteers in a Liberal Era Unpublished PhD dissertation, Graduate School of The Ohio State University[3]

Advertisement, The Argus (Melbourne), Wednesday January 18, I860: p. 4.[4]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.78, 180.

Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg.

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