Dramatic Club

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The Dramatic Club, Grahamstown

Amateur dramatic society founded in 1864. (See Du Toit, 1988) [JH]

The Dramatic Club, King William’s Town

Founded in 1862, performed at the Prince Alfred Theatre. They resented the rival military performers (Garrison Players), accusing them of “puffing” (and being called “muffs” in retaliation). (Fletcher, 1994) [TH]

The Dramatic Club, Port Elizabeth?*

Founded in 18* by ** Some members of the disbanded Dramatic Club ??** rejoined forces in 1862 and raised enough money to build an own theatre in White’s Road, called the White's Road Theatre. (Fletcher, 1994) [TH]

(COMMENT: This is incorrect as there has never been a theatre by that name in Port Elizabeth. This is probably a reference to the New Theatre which was situated in Whites Road, also known as the Theatre Royal or The Barn, Barn Theatre or The Old Barn and which was opened in 1862. Also, the Port Elizabeth Dramatic Company was responsible for the theatre opening. (Port Elizabeth, a social chronicle until 1945 by Margaret Harradine.) IM

On September 23, 1867, the Dramatic Club, which was very active at this time, performed a play “at considerable expense in dresses and general mounting,” written by the local postmaster and playwright, Alexander Wilmot, called The Treasure at the Woody Cape or The Days of Ryk van Tulbach.

The story dates back to 1760 when a Governor’s authority was almost absolute. The first scene opened with the promulgation of the “Pracht and Praal” regulations which declared that “whoever of the female sex, beneath the rank of junior merchant’s wives, shall wear silk dresses and embroidery,” would be liable to a fine of 25 rixdollars.

As can be imagined, this declaration did not make Ryk van Tulbach very popular among the ladies. The pirate, Van der Decken, (captain of the legendary Flying Dutchman) also known as Sluyskens, captured the ship, Nederland, which was carrying the wealth belonging to the Governor’s niece, Aletta van Breda, to Cape Town. In a plot of deception and kidnapping, the pirate tricks the Governor into breaking up Aletta’s engagement. A bit of dancing and singing on the pirate’s ship livens up the presentation. A bit more drama and escapes see the kidnapped victim escape and after some more action, the boat tips the occupants into the sea. Luckily they survive and end up in a cave at Woody Cape. Some dreams and water sprite scenes follow and the long-lost treasure was found. Van der Decken stabs himself and dies at the feet of those he betrayed.

The band of the 86th, kindly lent by Col Lowe, CB, and officers, “played some capital selections during the intervals”.

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