Held by the Enemy

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Held by the Enemy is a play by William Gillette (William Hooker Gillette, 1853-1937)[1].

The original text

A play set in the American Civil War, it tells of Brigade Surgeon Fielding who falls in love with a Southern belle when Federal troops capture a Confederate city.

First performed on 22 February, 1886, in the Criterion Theatre, Brooklyn, New York and published by Samuel French Ltd. in 1898.

According to the entry on William Gillette in Wikipedia, this Civil War drama "was a major step toward modern theater, in that it abandoned many of the crude devices of 19th century melodrama and introduced realism into the sets, costumes, props, and sound effects. It was produced at a time when the British had a very low opinion of American art in any form, and it was the first wholly American play with a wholly American theme to be a critical and commercial success on British stages."[2]

Translations and adaptations

Filmed in 1920, directed by Donald Crisp and based on the 1886 play. (The film is apparently lost.)

Performance history in South Africa

1892: Performed in the Vaudeville Theatre, Cape Town, by the visiting Emilie Bevan Comedy Company as part of a three-and-a-half month season of 20 plays which began on 8 August. It is uncertain which text was used in this case.




D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.394-5

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