Gentlemen Amateurs

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This seems to have been a term utilized to refer to amateur performers working with professional companies in Cape Town. Evidently these “Gentlemen Amateurs” were various members of the public who came together occasionaly and staged performances for the amusement of the Cape audiences - though Bosman (1928) argues convincingly that it is most probably a reference to “Gentlemen of the Garrison”, hence the Garrison Players.

The 1818 season and the performers from Liverpool

The first reference to this term appears to be in January 1818 when there is mention of the “Gentlemen Amateurs” who were assisted by four actors from the Royal Theatre, Liverpool, namely Mr Cooke, Mrs Cooke, Miss Williams and Mrs Brough with a season in the African Theatre. They began with The Honey Moon, or How to Rule a Wife and The Devil to Pay on 24th January 1818 and ended their visit on 21 November 1818 with Catherine and Petrucchio, Crochet Lodge, and a divertissiment called Sandy and Jenny.

The rest of their repertoire included Lovers' Vows and No Song, No Supper (31 January); Speed the Plough and The Spoiled Child (7 February); John Bull, or An Englishman's Fireside and Bombastes Furioso (28 March); The Honey Moon once more and The Weathercock (11 April); The Will and The Lying Valet (25 April);

The English performers left the Cape left the Cape for Calcutta at the end of November 1818, [JH/TH]

The 1855 season and Sefton Parry

In 1855 we find another reference to the “Gentlemen Amateurs” who assisted Sefton Parry with a performance of Used Up and Family Jars performed in the Drawing Room Theatre, Cape Town.


Bosman, 1928; Fletcher, 1994

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