Stage Struck

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According to Allardyce Nicoll (1975), there have been many plays known by the title Stage Struck (also written Stage-Struck), including a number by anonymous authors - e.g. The Stage-Struck Lady (1819),The Stage-Struck Apothecary (1827), Stage-Struck (1837 - by Dimond?), The Stage-Struck Yankee (1845), etc.

Of current relevance here are two plays ascribed to William Dimond - Stage Struck, (Dimond, 1835), and Stage struck, or, The love of Augustus Portarlington and Celestina Beverley (a farce in one act) (Cobb/Dimond, 1853), and one by Simon Gray (Stage Struck, 1979)

Stage Struck by William Dimond (1835)

This is a farce by William Dimond (1781–1837?)[1], first performed English Opera House on 12 November, 1835, featuring Ira Aldridge as "Jeronimo Othello Thespis" - a role clearly written for him. It was later revived at Madame Vestris's Royal Olympic Theatre, then went on tour - now named Theatre Mad, or The African Roscius. The text was never published.

According to Bernth Lindfors (2011: p.199[2]), this should not be confused with the Cobb/Dimond play Stage Struck, or The Loves of Augustus Portarlington and Celectina Beverley, they are two different works.

Stage Struck, or The Love of Augustus Portarlington and Celestina Beverly (Cobb/Dimond, 1853)

This is farce in one act adapted from Love in the East, or Adventures of Twelve Hours by James Cobb (1756-1818)[3], first performed in the Drury Lane Theatre, London, on 25 February, 1788.

The Dimond version of Cobb's work was first performed Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1853 and published by Thomas Hailes Lacy (n.d.).

Stage Struck by Simon Gray (1979)

This is a macabre comedy thriller by British playwright Simon Gray [4] (1936-2008). First performed in 1979 at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, starring Alan Bates. Published by Samuel French ISBN: 9780573114144.

Performance history of all these plays in South Africa

1861: The Cobb/Dimond play (said to have been "adapted" by Dimond) was performed by Sefton Parry and his company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 6 June, with The Hunchback (Knowles). (Bosman, 1980, pp. 97 and 529, gives the title incorrectly as Stage Struck, or The Loves of Augustus Portarlington and Celestina Beverley)

1861: Performed as Stage Struck in the renovated Theatre Royal, Cape Town, by Sefton Parry and his newly arrived company on 8 August, with The Lonely Man of the Ocean (Blake).

1862: Performed as Stage-Struck (apparently Dimond's version of Cobb's play) by Sefton Parry and his company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 30 January, with The Honeymoon (Tobin), and a "Pas Seul" by Miss Powell.

1875: A play called Stage Struck (ascribed to Dimond) was performed by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town, on 7 May, as an afterpiece to Frou-Frou, or Fashion and Folly (Webster). Given the fact that this is a one-act version and that only the second text was published, this is most likely to have been the 1853 one act adaptation of Cobb's play.

1878: A piece referred to as Stage Struck (described as a "comedietta") was performed by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 6 and 7 May, featuring The Paultons . Also played was Robinson Crusoe. (Bosman seemingly ascribes Stage Struck to Stanley Rogers (fl 1890s), but this is probably wrong, as Stanley Rogers was the author of a 1899 version of Robinson Crusoe - and that could hardly have been the one used here.)

1980: Simon Gray's play Stage Struck performed by the Toerien-Firth Company in July, directed by Stephen Hollis (who had directed the West End production in 1979) and starring Michael McGovern, Kenneth Baker, Judy Gibson and Tim Plewman. Intimate Theatre, Johannesburg, August-September,


Allardyce Nicoll. 1975. A History of English Drama 1660-1900: Late 19th Century Drama 1850-1900 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:p.538[5].

Bernth Lindfors. 2011. Ira Aldridge: The Vagabond Years, 1833-1852 University of Rochester Press:P. 60[6],+James,+1756-1818

Facsimile version of Love in the East, or Adventures of Twelve Hours, Hathi Trust Digital Library[7]

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.

Scenaria, (20) 1980, Forthcoming events.

Tucker, 1997. 387.

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