Difference between revisions of "Minstrels"
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=== The [[OIO Christy's Minstrels]]===
=== The [[OIO Christy's Minstrels]]===
[[F.C.L. Bosman]] (1980: p. 191) refers to the [[OIO Christy's Minstrels]] as a self-organized group of five [[negro]] singers (perhaps he means [[blackface]]?) from Port Elizabeth, who performed at the [[Theatre Royal]] in Cape Town in September 1865 under this troupe-name, in collaboration with [[Alfred Ray]], who had taken the theatre. (The name apparently a witty
[[F.C.L. Bosman]] (1980: p. 191) refers to the [[OIO Christy's Minstrels]] as a self-organized group of five [[negro]] singers (perhaps he means [[blackface]]?) from Port Elizabeth, who performed at the [[Theatre Royal]] in Cape Town in September 1865 under this troupe-name, in collaboration with [[Alfred Ray]], who had taken the theatre. (The name apparently a witty on "[[Ohio Minstrels]]", the name of a [[minstrels|minstrel]] company preceded them in the region.) They performed "comic scenes and [[burlesque]] sensations" and their repertoire included such standard [[Christy]] pieces as ''[[The Nerves]]'' and the [[burlesque]] of the ''[[The Bal Masqué]]'' (or ''[[Sloppy Sam the Confidential Ticket Collector]]''), with Ray in the role of "Sloppy Sam". Apparently they were not really well received in Cape Town, their work being seen as a little too vulgar. However, Ray went on to take the theatre for a more conventional season hereafter, the company now billed as the [[Ray and Cooper Company]], though their programmes continued to contain [[minstrels]] style vaudeville acts, such as ''[[Villikins and his Dinah]]'', ''[[The Bal Masqué]]'' and on 25 November 1865 a "Grand Combination Performance: Christy's Farewell and the Dramatic Co." with ''inter alia'' what they called a ''Grand Burlesque, Trial of Skill or Challenge Dance''[https://books.google.co.za/books?id=orsJVN4dhLsC&pg=PA19&lpg=PA19&dq=Trial+of+Skill+or+Challenge+Dance&source=bl&ots=i5fSofIt8S&sig=ACfU3U1t_Gc4tPpr4HbC9xXxHlEw0Oi02Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjU5J3v9MHgAhVvTBUIHRLTClwQ6AEwC3oECAQQAQ#v=onepage&q=Trial%20of%20Skill%20or%20Challenge%20Dance&f=false]. Hereafter the fare appears to have been more conventional.
===The [[Phoenix Dramatic Club]]===
===The [[Phoenix Dramatic Club]]===
Revision as of 06:32, 17 February 2019
- 1 The Minstrel
- 2 Minstrelsy or Minstrel shows
- 3 Minstrels and Minstrel Shows in South Africa
- 3.1 The introduction of minstrel shows to the country
- 3.2 Minstrel companies and their performances in South Africa
- 3.2.1 The 86th Royal Downshire Minstrels
- 3.2.2 The African Minstrels
- 3.2.3 The Amateur Coloured Troupe
- 3.2.4 The Amateur Dramatic and Christy Minstrels Company
- 3.2.5 The Carolina Minstrels
- 3.2.6 The Christy Minstrels
- 3.2.7 The Colonial Amateur Minstrels
- 3.2.8 The Ethiopian Serenaders
- 3.2.9 The Harvey-Dougherty-Leslie-Braham Minstrels
- 3.2.10 The Juvenile Christys
- 3.2.11 The Juvenile Christy's Minstrels
- 3.2.12 Mammoth Minstrels (Exhibition)
- 3.2.13 The OIO Christy's Minstrels
- 3.2.14 The Phoenix Dramatic Club
- 3.2.15 The Phoenix Club
- 3.2.16 The Royal Downshire Minstrels
- 3.2.17 The S.A. Minstrels or the Corps of S.A. Minstrels
- 3.2.18 Steele and Norton's Christy's Minstrels
- 3.2.19 Steele-Leslie-Taylor's Christy's Minstrels
- 3.2.20 The Virginia Jubilee Singers and Orpheus McAdoo
- 3.2.21 The Whale Rock Minstrels
- 3.2.22 The Young Men’s Institute Amateur Christy’s
- 3.3 The cultural influence of the minstrelsy movement in South Africa
- 4 Sources
- 5 Return to
For more information go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel
Minstrelsy or Minstrel shows
The original "Christy's Minstrels"
Minstrels and Minstrel Shows in South Africa
The introduction of minstrel shows to the country
There are also troupes who do not use the terms "Christy" or "Minstrel" in their names, but include acts or even whole programmes in the Christy style in their repertoire. Among them may be mentioned the Ethiopian Serenaders, Amateur Coloured Troupe, the African Minstrels, the Phoenix Club, the famous Virginia Jubilee Singers, etc.
Minstrel companies and their performances in South Africa
The Amateur Coloured Troupe was the name given to a private (i.e. non regimental) concert company, performing in blackface under in the Minstrelsy style popularized by the Christy Minstrels. They were active in Cape Town between 1869 and 1871. They seem to have emerged from the Y.M.I. Amateur Christy's, also performing in the Young Men's Institute and Club, and soon replacing it as the leading Christy's company. Their repertoire included typical Christy material, e.g. pantomimes, burlesques, also what were euphemistically called "Ethiopian burlesques" and more bluntly "nigger farces" at the time. These were usually part of a more conventional programme of songs, dances and virtually always included a dramatic entertainment of some kind. Their performances were often adopted to local conditions in the Cape.
Their busiest year seems to have been 1869, doing at least 14 performances during the period May to November, and also included participation in the Saturday Evening Entertainments put on by the Young Men's Institute and Club Dramatic Company. In 1870 the latter fell away and they tended towards theatrical performances of plays, often two on an evening, alongside their singing. They did at least six performances between May and September. In this year they also performed three shows in the New Lyceum Theatre (or Oddfellows Hall), and even did one performance at the Government School Building in Wynberg. Among other attendees, they were distinguished by the attendance of President Brand of the Orange Free State in July of 1869.
In 1858 they participated in a benefit for Mr Gough put on by J.E.H. English in his New Music Hall in Buitekant Street, Cape Town on 10 August. Besides their own minstrel performance, the entertainment included the plays The Hard Struggle (Marston) and The Bengal Tiger (Dance), as well as traditional Irish songs (e.g. "Paddy's Wedding") and minstrel song-and-dance number (e.g. "Jim Crow's Dance").
According to F.C.L. Bosman (1980: p. 112) a company called The Christy Minstrels performed in Cape Town "For the first time" on 10 May, 1862, in the Theatre Royal as part of an evening's entertainment by Sefton Parry's company. They apparently appeared in the "Great Burlesque of Uncle Snow's Music Lesson", as well as doing "Ten Gymnastic Acts", some negro songs, and dancing "the real Virginia Breakdown"
However, unless Bosman had his dates wrong, there is the possibility that this may have been a similarly named (even local?) troupe of minstrels, possibly one formed by Mr Gough, rather than the famous company from the USA, for on page 140 of his book Bosman asserts that a company by this name, billing themselves as the "original" Christy Minstrels (founded in 1842), only came to South Africa a little later in 1862, as part of a tour of the colonies (their next stop was to be Australia). This followed on a triumphant tour of the USA and five tours of England and Europe (where their patrons had apparently included Queen Victoria). They labeled the other Christy's active in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town at the time (e.g. the OIO Christy's Minstrels) as "bad imitators" of their own work.
Also referred to as the Harvey-Leslie Minstrels and the Harvey-Dougherty-Leslie-Braham Christy's Minstrels by Bosman (1980: p. 253), this was a very accomplished professional company, active in Cape Town for two years, circa 1872-4.
They returned for a second season (1873-4) and a third in October 1874.
Led by a Miss Kannemeyer, this company of young blackface performers first appeared in 1863, performing privately in a newly constructed Kannemeyer's Concert Hall owned by Mr Kannemeyer on his property Longmarket Street in 1864, before they made a public appearance in the Beurssaal. Though successful, they appear to have focused mainly on singing.
This troupe appeared in June, 1863 and was billed as a "newly organized" troupe of "youthful coloured serenaders" who apparently appeared in a "private theatre in Hanover Street, a neat little stage having been fitted up with scenery complete" (Bosman, 1980: pp.268-9). As Bosman points out, this was most probably another blackface company rather than a genuine "coloured" troupe, considering the European names of the performers, which included a "Master Rowlands" (director), and Miss Lytton and Mr Williams as the leading performers.
Their performance apparently included both songs and farces, "the little band evincing strong musical talent and comic abilities". They were then immediately asked to perform in the Mechanic's Institute, their repertoire including Sudden Thoughts (Wilks), Temptation, or The Fatal Brand (Townsend) and A Desperate Game (Morton). They are not heard of again after 1864, though they may have appeared on occasion.
Mammoth Minstrels (Exhibition)
Apparently an exhibition put on in Cape Town by the The Wheelers and Luscombe Searelle in 1890. According to D.C. Boonzaier (Bosman, 1980: p. 391) this was one of a few "gigantic failures" they had in that period.
F.C.L. Bosman (1980: p. 191) refers to the OIO Christy's Minstrels as a self-organized group of five negro singers (perhaps he means blackface?) from Port Elizabeth, who performed at the Theatre Royal in Cape Town in September 1865 under this troupe-name, in collaboration with Alfred Ray, who had taken the theatre. (The name apparently a witty play on "Ohio Minstrels", the name of a minstrel company seems to have preceded them in the region.) They performed "comic scenes and burlesque sensations" and their repertoire included such standard Christy pieces as The Nerves and the burlesque of the The Bal Masqué (or Sloppy Sam the Confidential Ticket Collector), with Ray in the role of "Sloppy Sam". Apparently they were not really well received in Cape Town, their work being seen as a little too vulgar. However, Ray went on to take the theatre for a more conventional season hereafter, the company now billed as the Ray and Cooper Company, though their programmes continued to contain minstrels style vaudeville acts, such as Villikins and his Dinah, The Bal Masqué and on 25 November 1865 a "Grand Combination Performance: Christy's Farewell and the Dramatic Co." with inter alia what they called a Grand Burlesque, Trial of Skill or Challenge Dance. Hereafter the fare appears to have been more conventional.
The Phoenix Club
The S.A. Minstrels or the Corps of S.A. Minstrels
See the Virginia Jubilee Singers
This is an informal name used to refer to the formally named Young Men's Institute and Club Dramatic Company, performing in the Young Men's Institute and Club (or sometimes called the Y.M.I. Institute and Club), when they presented minstrel performances. Also on occasion referred to as the Y.M.I. Amateur Christy's, Y.M.I. Christy's, the Amateur Christy's, or the Christy Minstrels by various sources.
The cultural influence of the minstrelsy movement in South Africa
The impact of the first visit by the original Christy's Minstrels and the various minstrel-style shows subsequently done by the various garrison theatre companies, visiting professionals and a number of amateur companies, in the course of the 19th century has been quite profound.
One of the most noticeable of the longer term effects of the exposure to the Christy's performances, is to be seen in the way they directly influenced the form, dress and style of what was long known as the Coon Carnival in Cape Town (now called the Cape Town Minstrel Festival,. , while a number of South African minstrel groups as the African Darkies, African Own Entertainers, and the Midnight Follies became popular, and in their turn influenced township performance through their use of so-called "coon" songs and skits borrowed from recordings and sheet music from Britain and the USA.
An offshoot of this influence is also found in the 20th century "Follies" or "Minstrel Shows", mostly performed in black-face and put on by a range of companies, from the troupes of the Union Defence Force Entertainment Unit (or UDF Entertainment Unit), set up by Myles Bourke and Frank Rogaly in 1939, to entertainments put on by various professional entrepreneurs and performers, including Brian Brooke, Joan Brickhill and Louis Burke, and others.
Then there has also been a significant influence on the general form of plays in the country - particularly in comedy and musical comedy. The work of of Adam Small and the Cape Flats Players, which produced plays by ineter alia Peter Braaf, Ivan Sylvester and Melvin Whitebooi, the "Cape" versions of Shakespeare by Andre P. Brink, the resounding musicals of David Kramer and Taliep Petersen, and so on.
Perhaps the most profound long-term influence though has been its role, via the so-called Coon Carnival and its impact on Afrikaans writing, on the formation and definition of a sense of identity in the so-called "coloured" or "brown" ("bruin") community of the Cape and the (positive and negative) social, cultural and political ramifications of such a construct.
Tracy C. Davis (Ed). 2012. "Christy's Minstrels 1857-1861", in The Broadview Anthology of Nineteenth-Century British Performance pp. 265-279
The Fugard Theatre Newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org), Thursday 9 October 2014.
S. Frederick Starr. 2000. Louis Moreau Gottschalk. University of Illinois Press: p. 197
Charles White and George W.H. Griffin. 1874-1900 (8 volumes) Darkey plays: a collection of Ethiopian dramas, farces, interludes, burlesque operas, ecentricities, extravaganzas, comicalities, whimsicalities, etc., etc., as played by the principal "burnt cork" performers all over the union. New York: The Happy Hour Company
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