English Theatricals

Revision as of 06:17, 11 February 2017 by Satj (talk | contribs) (→‎The name and history)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The name used for two distinct amateur theatre companies active in Cape Town during the 19th century.

The English Theatricals 1799-1819

The name

In this period it referred to the amateur theatre group formed by the officers of the Cape Town garrison, which performed in the Garrison Theatre and in the African Theatre. After 1819 the garrison group was called the Amateur Company. (Also known as the Garrison Players or Garrison Amateur Company in some publications and theatre bills).

See also Garrison Players and Garrison Theatre

See also Military Entertainment

After the founding of the civilian group in 1823, the Garrison Players did not use the name English Theatricals again, rather being referred to simply as the Amateur Company, the or English Amateurs.


Numerous officers were members of the company, in its various manifestations, over the years. Some of the names prominently mentioned in the period 1799-1819 are:

Captain Frazer, Captain Collins, Lieutenant Charles Napier, Mr Hamilton, Mr Strawbenzee, Mr Loftus, Mr O'Flaharty, Mr Longley, Mr Gleadowe, Mr Wilson, Mr Stock, Mr Byng, Major Lomax, Mr Taylor, Mr Carloss, Mr Stuart, Mr Young, Mr Hopley,

Some productions

Though it is clear they performed as early as 1799, little is known of the actually works performed until somewhat later, since the name of the company kept varying. However, among the known productions by officers from the garrison in the period 1799-1819 were:

In 1801: Henry the 4th (Part one) (October) as the opening presentation in the new The African Theatre

In 1802: The Prisoner at Large and The Agreeable Surprise (31 March); Three Weeks after Marriage and The Devil to Pay (10 May); The Little Hunchback, or A Frolic in Bagdad , The Interlude of the Magic Zone and The Cunning Wife, or The Lover in the Sack (28 June).

In 1803: Three Weeks after Marriage and The Poor Soldier (6 September); The Sultan, or A Peep into the Seraglio and Alfred, or The Magic Banner (12 October).

Here a break occurs, as the Cape is handed back to the Dutch republic, known as the Batavian Republic and supported by the French, and during this brief time - known as the Batavian period - French Theatre flourished and Cape Town became known as "Little Paris". It lasted a short while, till the re-annexation of the Cape by British forces on 18 January, 1806.

In 1807: She Stoops to Conquer and Teasle (20th of June); She Stoops to Conquer and Love à la Mode (29th of August);

In 1808:She Stoops to Conquer and The Apprentice (8th October).

In 1811: Lovers' Vows and Raising the Wind (27 July,); The Rivals and The Mock Doctor, or The Dumb Lady Cur'd (17 August); The Honey Moon and High Life Below Stairs (31 August); The Honey Moon and The Review, or The Wags of Windsor (21 September).

In 1812: The Review, or The Wags of Windsor and John Bull, or an Englishman's Fireside (18 January); Speed the Plough and The Irishman in London (6 July); and A Cure for the Heart Ache and The Jew and the Doctor (12 July).


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp. 60-78.

Fletcher, 1994

Go to South African Theatre/Bibliography

The English Theatricals 1823-1825

The name and history

In this period the name was used to indicate the civilian amateurs of Cape Town – largely organised from within the civil service – as opposed to the garrison group called the Amateur Company.

The two English companies apparently competed heavily with one another for audiences, also for use of the African Theatre.

After a few active years, the civilian company dwindled in 1825, though a group called the English Comedy put on shows in 1826 (see that entry). The same group possibly re-emerged as the later English Theatrical Amateur Company in 1828, and - at least according to Du Toit (1988) - was again revived briefly between 1834 and 1838 as the Private Theatre Company.

For the productions by the later groups see the entries on the English Comedy, the English Theatrical Amateur Company, the English Amateur Company and the Private Theatre Company.

Some productions

The first production by the new English Theatricals, independently of the garrison amateurs, was in the African Theatre during Race Week 1823, with Colman’s Ways and Means and O’Keefe’s Modern Antiques.

Other productions include:

The 1823 season

14 and 21 June 1823: The Midnight Hour (Mrs Inchbald) and The Wedding Day (Fielding or Mrs Inchbald) - with The King and the Miller of Mansfield (Dodsley) added on the second date.

26 July 1823: The Honey Moon (Tobin) and The Blue Devils (George Colman Jr).

9 August 1823: The Honey Moon (Tobin) and Modern Antiques (Colman Jr).

20 September 1823: Douglas (Home) and The Sleeping Draught (Penley).

15 November 1823: Rob Roy Macgregor, or Auld Lang Syne (most probably Pocock's text, based on Scott) and (possibly) The Mock Doctor (Fielding).

6 December 1823: The Wonder: A Woman Keeps a Secret (Mrs Centlivre) and Three Weeks after Marriage (Murphy)

20 December 1823: Rob Roy Macgregor, or Auld Lang Syne and All the World's a Stage (Jackman).

28 January, 1824: The Wonder: A Woman Keeps a Secret (Mrs Centlivre) and Three Weeks after Marriage (Murphy).

The 1824 season

10 April 1824: Tekeli, or The Siege of Montgatz (Hook) and Love à-la-Mode (Macklin)

22 May 1824: The Mountaineers (Colman) and The Irish Widow (Garrick)

12 June 1824: Lovers' Vows (Kotzebue/Inchbald) and The Irish Widow (Garrick), a benefit performance for a certain Mrs Crole and her two infant orphans, who had been left destitute.

17 June 1824: Ivanhoe, or The Jewess of York (Moncrieff, after Scott) and Who's the Dupe (Cowley)

11 August, 1824: Rob Roy Macgregor, or Auld Lang Syne and The Weather-Cock (Forrest).

11 September 1824: Inkle and Yarico (Colman Jr) and The Spoiled Child (Bickerstaffe) A benefit for Mrs Black.

16 October 1824: The Poor Soldier (O'Keeffe) and A Bold Stroke for a Wife (Mrs Centlivre).

27 November 1824: The Castle Spectre (Lewis) and The Poor Soldier (O'Keeffe).

The 1825 season

There were markedly fewer productions in 1825; apart from an aborted attempt to do The Duenna[2] by Sheridan in July, Bosman (1928) only lists two successful productions:

11 June 1825: The Stranger (Kotzebue) and 20 percent, or My Father.

16 July 1825: Douglas (Home) and The Weather-Cock (Forrest)

The 1828-30 seasons

They now played as the English Theatrical Amateur Company, possibly as a new group made up by members of the old company.

8 November 1828: The Mayor of Garratt (Foote), Sharp and Flat (Lawler), Past ten o'Clock, or A Rainy Night (Dibdin).

9 May 1829: Reformation (Anon), The Mogul Tale, or The Descent of the Balloon (Mrs Inchbald) and Trick for Trick, or The Admiral's Daughter (Anon),

3 October 1829: The Curfew (Tobin) and Killing No Murder (Hook).

1 May 1830: The Weathercock (Forrest) and The Citizen (Murphy

[TH, JH]


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [3]: pp. 196-200;

Fletcher, 1994

Du Toit, 1988

Go to the ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to South African Theatre Venues, Companies, Societies, etc

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to South African Stage Plays

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page