W.J. Holloway

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W.J. Holloway (1843-1913)[1] was a British/Australian actor and manager


Born William John Holloway in London, he emigrated to Australia in 1856, where he pursued his theatrical career in the years 1868-1898, "playing the Empire" with his company, becoming quite renowned, for his Shakespearean productions in particular.

He was married to and died in 1913.

(For a partial list of his Australian productions, see the entry on s"W.J. Holloway" in AusStage, The Australian Live Performance Database)[2]

His brother, Charles Holloway (1848-1908)[3] also began acting in Australia in about 1874 and became an actor/manager himself round about 1893, touring Australia with his own company till 1906, primarily doing melodrama apparently. He was married to the actress Alice Deorwyn and father of actress Beatrice Holloway.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

W.J. Holloway and his company were first brought to South Africa by the Wheeler Company in May, 1896, to perform a series of Shakespearian plays, inter alia at the Opera House in Cape Town. Variously known as the The Holloway Theatre Company and The Holloway Company, the players included William Haviland, Gerald Lawrence, Leonard Rayne, John Nesbitt, Amy Coleridge and Amy Grace.

The company's productions were extremely popular with the public - though the critic/historian D.C. Boonzaier (1923) did not rate Holloway's acting abilities highly, finding his style to consist of "the worst features of the older school of acting".

His extensive repertoire during his first season in South Africa included performances of Hamlet, King Lear, Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night.

During one of a few return seasons he presented the first South African production of Wilson Barrett's popular play The Sign of the Cross (Barrett) in Cape Town on 23 June 1898, going on to play for four weeks.

In 1901 Holloway once more performed in Cape Town, doing Quo Vadis (Strange) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare).


"W.J. Holloway", AusStage website[4]

David Holloway. 1979. Playing the Empire. London: George G. Harrop and Co.


"Charles Holloway", AusStage website[5]

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 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 403-408.

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