The Silver King
The original text
A celebrated play from the late 19th century, which William Archer believed it to be "quite the best of modern English melodramas." The play was popular for more than 40 years, and had numerous performances all over Europe, America, South Africa, India and Australia.
First performed in London at the Princess's Theatre, on November 16, 1882 and in New York at Wallack's Theatre on 27 January, 1883.
Translations and adaptations
The play was adapted and filmed twice, first as a 1919 silent film directed by George Irving and starring stage star William Faversham (the film now lost) and second as a 1929 British silent film directed by T. Hayes Hunter and starring Percy Marmont, Harold Huth and Chili Bouchier.
Performance history in South Africa
The text had originally been brought to South Africa by Henry Harper when he first came to South Africa and throughout his period as lessee of the Theatre Royal he did all he could to produce it in Cape Town, but could not assemble such a large cast locally and finally gave up on it, considering the piece to be beyond the resources of his management.
1885: Shortly after Harper had given up the theatre, the text was rediscovered by Sutton Vane and, recognising its value, he put it into production. It was first performed as The Silver King in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, now under the management of new lessees - H.C. Sidney and his partner H.J. Fiedler, opening on the 4th of May and running for almost four weeks. The cast, led by H.C. Sidney, also featured Alice Norton, Sutton Vane, Jacques du Toit, Herbert Harries, Robert Bolder, Henry Harper, Charles Wilstone, Constance Young, Emily Seyton, and Kate Leechman. The play was directed by Sutton Vane, who also designed and built the sets.
1910: Produced by Leonard Rayne and his company, as part of their repertoire of six plays, opening at the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg, and then touring the various cities, including a performances at the Opera House, Cape Town, in April. The cast featured P.A. Gawthorn as "Wilfred Denver".
1931: Performed in Afrikaans as Die Silwer Koning by the Hanekom-Van Zyl Geselskap while on tour, partly under the auspices of African Theatres. Besides the normal cast of Hendrik Hanekom, Mathilde Hanekom, Wena Naudé and Willem van Zyl, it introduced a child star, Sylvia Robertson, and Jac. J. du Toit to the South African public.
The Daily Advertiser, February 5, 1901.
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