Drury Lane Theatre
[CHECK facts* ]
A small theatre built on Constitution Hill on a piece of ground bought from (or leased from?) a mr William White and situated at the corner of Drury Lane and Constitution Street in 1843, “by a company, Mr H. Carpenter and two others” and constructed in such a manner that it could be turned into dwelling houses if need arises. Initially to be called the Royal Victoria , this theatre in Cape Town eventually retained the name of its location instead. Initial plans for its construction were mooted as early as 1841, but were abandoned until 1845 when a new campaign (led by Sam Sly and others) was started. This paid dividends when construction was started in 1846. After long delays in building caused by the Border Wars, it was finally opened in 1847, when Parker's Company played there. (Fletcher (1994), however, says it was opened opened on June 19 1848 with a performance by the French Theatrical Company - possibly the one managed by Dalle Case, on a visit from Mauritius, with their vaudeville and circus acts.)
In 1848 William White , who had apparently kept some shares in (or the ownership of the theatre) for himself, put the theatre and its large collection of costumes and sets up for sale, along with his other Cape properties, as he was emigrating. The theatre was apparently then bought by L.P. Cauvin for £235.
They were followed by Mr W.H.F. Parker and the New English Theatrical Company, who leased it for one season, to produce light dramas and operas. Also and then James Lycett and his family did a season. Thereafter sporadically utilized by various groups such as Tot Nut en Vermaak (1843?*-1858, according to Laidler, 1926), Door Yver Bloeit de Kunst (1851), and possibly Sefton Parry. However, it was never a popular venue, and although it was fairly well-used (due to a lack of alternatives) it was eclipsed by other venues and ceased functioning as a theatre after 1851.
For more information
Sources: Bosman 1928: pp474-488; Fletcher, 1994; Laidler, 1926) [TH, JH]
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