Mabel Hayes

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Mabel Hayes (fl. 1870s and 1880s) was a British actress and manager.

As a manager she was apparently known as Mrs R.J. Hall.


Though no biography has been traced for her, she is mentioned as an actress in a number of plays produced at the Royal Princess' Theatre and at the Adelphi Theatre, London, (where she appeared inter alia as "Widow White" in Mr and Mrs White from 18 December 1876 till 2 February, 1877).

Apparently married to an R.J. Hall, since she was also referred to as Mrs R.J. Hall.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

She is first mentioned as a member of a strong new company that Disney Roebuck had recruited in England for his next season in South Africa. The company, that also included Bella Murdoch, Julia Sydney, T.G. Warren, T. Morton, Wilfred Bayley, Sidney Beltram, Mr Branscombe, and others, arrived on the Balmoral Castle arrived in Cape Town in 1879. Besides its season in Cape Town and other towns and cities, the company offered some entertainment on board ship, among other pieces a performance of Leap Year, or The Ladies' Privilege (Buckstone) on 28 November, 1879.

She is next mentioned, now as the leader of her own company, by D.C. Boonzaier (1923). They arrived in Cape Town from England on 24 August, 1882 and she soon leased the Theatre Royal in Burg Street, Cape Town, for a season, managing it under the name of Mrs R.J. Hall, though the company was known as The Mabel Hayes Company. She brought together a large company that consisted of Dora French, Augusta Stuart, Georgie Leighford, Rose Brandram, Ellie Elliston, Mrs Eburne, Mr Veovide, Walter J. Brooks, Robert Bolder, Brittain Booth, H. Harries, Gertrude Wynne and others. The local musician and performer Henry Harper helped out with musical matters.

They opened there with a Christmas pantomime (Cinderella) in 1882, with a season lasting till July 1883. Their repertoire was diverse, including both drama and opera. Among the operatic pieces mentioned by Boonzaier for example are Iolanthe (Gilbert and Sullivan), Manteaux Noirs (Scribe/Parke and Paulyon) and Olivette (Chivot & Durn)/Farnie). The dramas included The World (Meritt, Pettitt and Harris), Taken from Life (Pettitt), The Lights of London (Sims), The Squire (Pinero), Queen's Evidence (Conquest and Pettitt)), It's Never too Late to Mend (Reade), Little Nell (Dickens/Brougham or Halliday), Poor Little Jo (Dickens/), Little Emily (Dickens/), Guy Mannering (Scott/Terry), Pygmalion and Galatea (Gilbert), Moths (Ouida/Hamilton) and Peep o' Day (Falconer).

In July of 1883 she left Cape Town for Port Elizabeth with the core of her company.

Binge (1969: p. 33) mentions performances by The Bob Bolder-Mabel Hayes Company in Johannesburg and Pretoria during August of 1888, drawing some attention with an Aladdin in which they satirized local issues such as "Oom Paul" Kruger's chances in the election, speculation, gold shares, and the like. (Rather oddly Binge misspells Bolder's name as "Holder" in the text of his history, though he has it correct in his Index - but then proceeds to get the page reference wrong in the Index...)


Royal Adelphi Theatre (formerly the Sans Pareil Theatre) 1806-1900. Calendar for 1876-1877[1]

Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.33

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, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 354, 375-7, 384.

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