Theatre Royal

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The name has been used to refer to theatre venues, and has also been used as the name of a play

Theatre Royal (venue)

A very popular name for theatre venues in the British Empire, also in various cities in South Africa, especially during the 19th century. The name formerly referred to patent theatres, which had a Royal Patent, without which performances of serious drama would be illegal.

Theatres Royal, Cape Town


Theatre Royal, Harrington Street

Built by Mr Glynn in order of Sefton Parry. It opened on 9 August 1860. From 1861 till 1863 Parry and his first professional company, the Alfred Dramatic Club utilized its stage. Parry returned to London (1863) and the theatre was closed in 1865**. It was later revamped and hired by Mr Le Roy. It burnt down sometime before 1873** The theatre was also briefly referred to as the Cape Town Theatre (1861**), possibly also know as the Harrington Street Theatre during 1868**??** Burnt down same year, 1868.

Theatre Royal, Burg Street

New theatre built in 1875*. In 1876 Captain Disney Roebuck moved in and opened on 6 May 1876 with The Octoroon. In 1884** it burnt down, but was quickly rebuilt and ready for Disney Roebuck's return from London. The Theatre Royal was reopened on 3 February 1885.

Theatre Royal, Durban

(West Street and Theatre Lane). Opened November 1882, as a multiple-purpose venue (plays, dances, boxing, etc). Extensively renovated in 1899, seating 1000, for theatrical performances. Besides local productions, visiting performers and companies included H. B. Irving, Lily Langtry, Marie Tempest, Harry Lauder and Sybil Thorndike. Mark Twain performed his At Home there in 1896. From 1939 also used as a cinema. In 1953 the building was sold to a furniture business, and is currently the site of a set of warehouses.

Theatre Royal, Grahamstown.

Built round about 1848. Apparently situated in Styles’ Hotel, New Street, it had a proscenium designed by Frederick Timpson l'Ons, a well known local artist. Used by the Graham's Town Theatrical Amateur Company as a base between 1848-1850. l'Ons also designed and painted scenery for the company's productions in this and other venues.

Theatre Royal, Johannesburg

A portable corrugated iron hall used for vaudeville and similar entertainments. In 1888** Luscombe Searelle took his wood-and-iron theatre with his Opera Company to Johannesburg, travelling from Durban on wagons. The theatre was set up on the corner of Commissioner and Eloff streets. It openend with Maritana (Fletcher, 1994: 116) Closed in ****. Theatre Royal: Theatre in early Johannesburg, housed in a corrugated iron hall. ****

Theatre Royal, Kimberley

Built in Jones Street in 18** by **. ** Burnt down in 1930 when a huge fire destroyed many buildings there. [A reconstruction of the theatre was built as part of the Open Mine Museum by the Big Hole in 197*??. ]

Theatre Royal, Pietermaritzburg

A revamped version of the old Bijou Theatre, initially called the New Bijou Theatre, it opened on 11 August 1877. **** Mark Twain performed his At Home there in 1896.***

Theatre Royal (play)

A play in three acts by American novelist and playwright Edna Ferber (1887-1968) and playwright and director George S. Kaufman (1889-1961).

The original text

Opened 23rd October 1934, at Lyric Theatre, London. The cast included Laurence Olivier, George Chamberlain, Mona Harrison, Marie Tempest. Directed by Sir Nöel Coward, stage manager Herbert Chown.

Published by Samuel French, 1929.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

Produced for Combined Dramatic Societies of Cape Town by Mary Holder at the Little Theatre, 1941.


Laidler, 1926

Trek 2 January 1942 p 20

Jill Fletcher, 1994.

Percy Tucker, 1997

Dennis Schauffer, 197*

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