The Secret

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The Secret is a title that appears to have been given to many plays, of which a number have been performed in South Africa. Besides the original English works (see below), there are also a number of translations from the French, Italian and German.

In this regard, see the entries on Le Secret, Das Geheimnis, Het Geheim, and so on. There is at times some confusion about exact text being used for a particular production, for the works seem to be somewhat interwoven.

The Secret by Edward Morris (1799)

The Secret is a comedy in five acts written by Edward Morris (1768-1815)[1].

Also found as The Secret!

The original text

Written and first performed at the Drury Lane theatre in 1799. Published in London by Cadell and Davies, 1799.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1854: Performed by the City Amateur Theatrical Society on Wednesday, 26th July in the Dutch Company's Bree Street Theatre (corner of Dorp Street), Cape Town. It followed Hamlet (Act 3) and A Race for a Dinner (Rodwell), and was itself followed by Ion (Talfourd). Musical accompaniment by Mr Holt's musical corps.

1854: Performed again by the City Amateur Theatrical Society a month later, on Monday 21 August, preceded by The Mendicant (G. à Beckett) and The First Floor (Cobb)

1858: A farce called The Secret of the Hole in the Wall (no author given) was performed at the Harrington Street Theatre, Cape Town, by the Cape Town Dramatic Club on 9 July, 1858, with Plot and Passion, or The Female Gambler (Taylor and Lang), Mrs Parry playing "Mrs Dupuis" and "Mme de Fontanges" respectively in the plays. There is a remote possibility that this was the text used. However, given that it was played as an afterpiece and Bosman (1980: p.144) calls it a "klugspel" ("a farce") suggests that the text used was far more likely to have been a version of Edward Poole's shorter text The Hole in the Wall.

1866: A piece called The Secret (said by Bosman to be The Secret of the Hole in the Wall by an unknown author) was performed for two more nights (4 and 6 January) in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, by the Ray and Cooper Company, with Little Jack Horner, or Harlequin A.B.C. (Blanchard).

1877: A play billed as The Secret (referred to as a farce in one act) was performed by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 18 September, as an afterpiece to Plot and Passion (Taylor and Lang) and accompanied by a song by Miss Wynne. Once more, given Bosman's description of it as a "klugspel" ("a farce") and its place in the programme, it is this five act play. In this case Bosman (1980: p.144) suggests that it may have been "from the French, translated by W. Barrymore", i.e. an English version of Le Secret by Hoffman and Solié.

1877: The Secret performed again by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 25 September, this time as afterpiece to Jessie Brown, or The Relief of Lucknow (Boucicault).


David Erskine Baker, Isaac Reed, Stephen Jones: Biographia Dramatica; or A Companion to the Playhouse. (Volume III – M-Z) London: Longman et al, 1812.[2]

Facsimile version of the original text (third edition, 1799) (Google eBook)[3]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [4]: pp. 426-427

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 75, 144

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