The Workman, or The Shadow on the Hearth

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The Workman, or The Shadow on the Hearth is a drama in five acts by Frank Harvey (fl 1880s)

Also referred to simply as The Workman in some sources.

The original text

Originally acted at Theatre Royal, Sunderland, 10th May, 1880 and the Olympic Theatre, London, on 18 July 1881.

Performed for the first time in the Australian colonies on October 4 1884 as The Workman at the Princess Theatre Melbourne.

Translations and adaptations

A play called The Workman is mentioned by D.C. Boonzaier (1923) as being performed in Cape Town in 1887, and is ascribed by him to "Edward Towers". However, it is more likely that this was actually a performance of The Workman, or The Shadow on the Hearth (1880), the drama in five acts by Frank Harvey. The British actor Edward Towers[1] may have been part of the company, hence Boonzaier's error about an event that took place 36 years earlier than the date of his autobiographical articles. Alternatively "Edward Towers" may have been one of the pseudonyms used by actor and playwright Sutton Vane, who probably directed the piece.

Performance history in South Africa

1887: The Workman (ascribed to "Edward Towers") was performed as part of the repertoire of the Wheeler Theatre Company when they played in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town during April and May. Probably directed by Sutton Vane.


Review, The Athenaeum, 23 July 1881[2]

The Era Almanack (Publisher Era, 1880), p.83 [3]

The Theatre, Volume 14 (Wyman & Sons, 1885, p. 41 [4]

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 1923. (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: p. 384

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