Nance Oldfield

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Tiridate, ou Comédie et Tragédie is a French "comédie-vaudeville" in one act by Narcisse Fournier (1803-1880)[1]

Also found simply as Tiridate

The original text

A one act piece about the actress Mademoiselle Dumesnil (Marie-Françoise Marchand, 1713-1803)[2], who joined the Comédie-Française in 1737 and became famous for her roles in the plays of Voltaire and Jean Racine. It also features her god-child Louise, the bailiff of the province and his son. Set in Paris in the time of Louis XV.

First performed in Paris at the Théâtre du Gymnase-Dramatique, on 15 April, 1841 and published by Dondey-Dupre, Paris, in the same year.

Translations and adaptations

Charles Reade adapted Narcisse's play as a short story called "Art: a dramatic tale" and published it in Bentley's Miscellany (December 1853). He then adapted his own story as a one act play called Art in 1855. His version Reade replaces Mlle Dumesnil with the 18th century British actress Anne Oldfield (1783-1830)[3] and relates a fictional incident her life and that of a young poet who falls in love with her.

Reade later revived his play as An Actress of Daylight for the actress Mrs John Wood, and did so again in 1883 for the actress Geneviève Ward - now calling the play Nance Oldfield. The first production by Ward was a failure at the time, but the play would become a standard work in her repertoire over the years.

In 1891 Ellen Terry purchased the rights to Reade's play, performing the leading role numerous times, also under the title Nance Oldfield.

In 1894 W. H. Baker & co., Boston, published an American version of the play, a one-act play likewise called Nance Oldfield but credited to "M.A." (Mildred Aldrich, 1853-1928)[4], in the series Baker's edition of plays. The text clearly credits "M.A." as the author, but states that it had been "arranged from Charles Reade's story".

Performance history in South Africa

1891-2: Performed by the Geneviève Ward Company during a nine months' tour of South Africa, under the auspices of Luscombe Searelle, featuring Geneviève Ward and W.H. Vernon in the leading roles.


Facsimile version of the original French text of 1841, Google E-book[5]

"Mademoiselle Dumesnil" in Wikipedia[6]

"Anne Oldfield" in Wikipedia[7]

Facsimile version of the 1894 edition of the text by Baker, Hathi Trust Digital Library[8]

Jeffrey Richards. 2007. Sir Henry Irving: A Victorian Actor and His World A&C Black:p.53[9]

Allardyce Nicoll. 1975. A History of English Drama 1660-1900 (Volume 5, Late Nineteenth Century) Cambridge University Press:p.396 [10]

J.P. Wearing. 2013. The London Stage 1890-1899: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel. (Second, revised edition, p.215[11]

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.203-205

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