1. The original three act melodrama by Douglas Jerrold (1829) performed at The Surrey Theatre.
2. A shortened two act version, also by Jerrold, created for Charles Kemble's production at Covent Garden in 1829. This became the standard published and performed text it would seem.
3. A burlesque version of Jerrold's work by F.C. Burnand (1867).
A number of other burlesque versions were also done elsewhere over the years, of course, e.g.. Too Lovely Black-ey'd Susan ("A New Burlesque Perversion of Douglas Jerrold's Famous Drama" by Horace Lennard, 1888).
Black-Ey'd Susan, or All in the Downs, the three act and two act versions (Jerrold, 1829)
Based on John Gay's well known ballad by that name, it has been described as "a nautical melodrama (with all its stock characters) that praises the patriotic British tar (sailor) while critiquing authoritarianism in the British Navy", it was the playwright's Jerrold's first successful play. Originally apparently a three act play, it opened at the Surrey Theatre on 26 January 1829 and setting a new record of over 150 performances. Later the same year Jerrold himself shortened the text to a two act version at the request of Charles Kemble, for performance as an afterpiece at the Covent Garden Theatre. The play was not only the most successful nautical drama of the 19th century, but became a key work in the history of English melodrama, and a stock play across the Empire, also in South Africa, till well into the 20th century. It was for example was the first professionally produced play in Australia, performed in Sydney at Barnett Levey's Theatre Royal in 1832.
Black-Eyed Susan, or The Little Bill That Was Taken Up (Burnand, 1867)
Entitled The Latest Edition of Black-Eyed Susan, or The Little Bill That Was Taken Up it is a burlesque by F.C. Burnand (1836–1917). It is also known in South Africa as Black-Eyed Susan, or The Little Bill That Was Taken Up.
The play was first performed in the New Royalty Theatre in Soho, London, on 29 November, 1866, and published by the Strand Printing and Publishing Company in 1867.
Performance history of the various versions in South Africa
The problem with some South African performances is that the sources are at times unclear as to which play is being referred to by the shortened title Black-Eyed Susan. For example, while it is assumed from the evidence that the burlesque version was brought to South Africa by Disney Roebuck in the 1870s,it is not always certain from the sources whether the play referred to as Black Eye'd Susan or Black Ey'd Susan by F.C.L. Bosman, and listed by him for Roebuck between 1875 and 1877, is always a reference to the burlesque by Burnand, and not to the original play by Jerrold.
1874: Performed in the Mutual Hall, Cape Town, by Disney Roebuck's company (in a shortened version - possibly the two act version, or it could have been the burlesque version) on 28 February, with Our Wife (Morton).
1875: Burnand's Black-Eyed Susan, or The Little Bill That Was Taken Up performed in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town, by Disney Roebuck's company on 10 April and billed as a "new Burlesque", with Aurora Floyd (Braddon).
1877: The original text performed as Black-Ey'd Susan, or All in the Downs in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, by Disney Roebuck's company on 6 September, with The Wonderful Woman, or The Marquis and The Cobbler (Dance).
Facsimile of the 1856 Boston version, Internet Archive
Black-Ey'd Susan in The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, Oxford Reference
Facsimile version of the 1867 text of the burlesque, Google E-book
Michael V. Pisani. 2014. Music for the Melodramatic Theatre in Nineteenth-Century London and New York University of Iowa Press, pp94ff.
F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 68, 70, 73, 94,99, 110, 134, 211, 214-5, 312-3, 322-3, 326, 329-331, 334, 336, 340, 349, 360, 364.
William Groom. 1899-1900. Drama in Cape Town. Cape Illustrated Magazine, 10(4): 478-481, 517-520, 547-552, 580-584, 640-643, 670-672, 706-708.
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