The Gentlemen Amateurs or the Gentlemen Amateur Company seem to have been terms 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 occasionally and staged performances for the amusement of the Cape audiences - though F.C.L. Bosman (1928) argues convincingly that it is most probably a reference to "Gentlemen of the Garrison" hence the Garrison Players or Garrison Amateur Company. The name Gentlemen Amateur Company also occurs circa 1828, in the same sense.
See also the entry on Military Entertainment
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, or Love in a Sack, played as a benefit performance for Mr Cooke.
The English performers left the Cape left the Cape for Calcutta at the end of November 1818, [JH/TH]
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); She Stoops to Conquer and The Poor Soldier (16 May); Sighs, or The Daughter (from Armuth und Edelstein by Von Kotzebue) and Fortune's Frolic (30 May); The Road to Ruin and Valentine and Orson (13 June); The School for Scandal and Chrono(h)ontonthologus (27 June); Wild Oats and Valentine and Orson (11 July); The Wandering Boys and The Mock Doctor (25 July); The Tale of Mystery and A House to be Sold (8 August); Douglas and The Romp (22 August); The Birth Day and The Miller and his Men (5 September); Douglas and Sy(i)lvester Daggerwood (19 September).
The season was followed by three benefit performances for the three professional ladies from Liverpool, and ended with one for Mr Cooke. The performances for the ladies were: The Wandering Boys, followed by The Bird Duet and The Miller and His Men for Mrs Cooke on 26 September; the company held a benefit performance , doing Othello and The Poor Soldier for Miss Williams on 24 October; and The Will and Two Strings to your Bow for Mrs Brough on 7 November.
Bosman, 1928, 151-177;
The 1855 season and Sefton Parry
Bosman, 1928, 151-177; Fletcher, 1994
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