Dalle Case Company

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The Dalle Case Company was one of the names given to a short-lived professional French theatre company very active in Cape Town in 1848.

See also Luigi Dalle Case

The company

The company was founded in Cape Town in February 1848, when the actor manager signor Luigi Dalle Case split from his circus partner Signor Severo. (The Italian Circus, run Della Case and Severo had arrived in Cape Town in November 1847. After the split, Dalle Case continued as the Italian Circus, while Severo started an African Circus.)

Members of his company were also referred to as the French Dramatic Artistes and included L. Victor, C. Crosset, X. Hus, Madame Dalle Case, Madame Victor, Madame Crosset, Mademoiselle Gabrielle and Mademoiselle Emilia. There is also mention of "die kleine Hamoy" ("the tiny Hamoy"), most probably a circus performer.

They performed in the Hope Street Theatre (renamed to Sans Souci Theatre by Case) for two performances, after which three performances were held in the more comfortable Garrison Theatre. Programmes concentrated on pantomimes[1], vaudeville, singing (e.g. areas from various works), dancing, (comic or "grand") ballets and light farces, with various acts in between. Much of the anonymous material, one suspects, was created by company members themselves.

The company was short-lived and broke up in March 1848, largely due to financial trouble, though three members, messrs L. Victor, X. Hus and C. Crosset, sought to continue the work under a different name Theatre de L'Union), but not with any more success.

Case apparently now left the Cape (and show-business) for adventures in the interior for a while. However his wife (and Dalle Case himself?) seemingly continued performing in circus presentations, possibly with Noble's Circus, since F.C.L. Bosman (1928, p. 437, f.2) notes a Signora Dalle Case (is this supposed to be signor?), who performed on the borders of the Cape toward the end of 1850 and then appears in Natal in 1852, performing with a number of wild animals, as in traditional South African circusses.

The performances

Their first performance on was 14 February 1848 and began with a "Grand Dramatic Presentation" which included a "Grootze Muzykale Interludium" ("Grand Musical Interlude"), with arias, dances and some scenes from a farce they call De Twee Savoyanen (Anon.: though it may have been scenes taken from the two act Belgian farce Arlekyn Savoyard by De Pauw). This was followed by the farcical ballet called De Gelukkige Man, of De Ontmoeting in het Donker (Anon. - also called a "landelike stuk" or a "rural play" by Bosman, 1928: p. 435).

On 24 February 1848 they opened with a "Comédie-vaudeville" (wrongly attributed to Eugène Scribe), which they called The Resources of Jonatha(s), or the Two Masters and one valet and a "Grand Pantomime" called Running Mad Through Love (Anon.), in addition to songs and dances.

Of the next three performances we only have information on the third performance, on 13th March, 1848 in the Garrison Theatre. The play performed was The Art of Avoiding to do Military Duty (Anon., most probably a one-man performance devised by the comic actor L. Victor), which was part of a full evening's entertainment including a "Grand Interlude of Music and Dancing"; choral dances by Mademoiselle Emilia and Madame Dalle Case, accompanied in song by Mr Russel; entertainment by the tiny Hamoy; seven tableaus of Ancient figures; a comic ballet called A Visit to the Military Prison... (Anon., "assisted by the Military" (Bosman, 1928: p. 347)" and "An English Dance".

Their final performance under the leadership of Dalle Case took place in the Hope Street Theatre once more and consisted of the Vaudeville of The Lying Valet, or The Masters Deceived (Garrick), a grand intermezzo of dance and music, and a comic ballet entitled The Family of Pierrotts (Anon.).



Gillian Arrighi and Victor Emeljanow. 2012. A World of Popular Entertainments: An Edited Volume of Critical Essays. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: pp. 94[2]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [3]: pp. 435-7, 484, 487, 494, 500.

Jill Fletcher, 1994

P.W. Laidler, 1926

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