Difference between revisions of "W.F.H. Parker"

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A puppeteer, magician and impresario from England.  
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[[W.F.H. Parker]] was a  puppeteer, magician and impresario from England.  
  
 +
He was the owner of a theatrical company (sometimes referred to as [[Mr Parker's Theatre of Mechanics]]), which toured internationally showing huge, life-size [[Automaton]] figures. They “worked automatically through wires, ropes, steam” or through someone inside the huge puppets.
  
== South African Performances by Parker and his company ==
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== Cape Town career as puppeteer  1837-1839, 1849-1851==
  
=== The [[Automata]] ===
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In 1837 Parker arrived in Cape Town and impressed audiences with the [[Automaton]] figures, billed as the "Mechanical and Picturesque Theatre of Arts" (Bosman, 1828: p. 231).  It was one of the first recorded puppet displays in Cape Town (a [[M. Decanis]] preceded Parker, showing only one [[Automaton]] figure in June 1837).
  
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The first performance by the [[Automata]] - or as they were billed as "[[Mr Parker's Theatre of Mechanics]]" was on 5 December 1837 and consisted of ''[[Polander]]'' , ''[[The Enchanted Turk]]'', ''[[Children in the Wood]]'' (Morton) and ''[[Joey Grimaldi's Trip to Brentford]]'' (possibly their version of the classic comedy riding act called ''[[Billy Buttons, or the Tailor's Ride to Brentford]]'')
  
In 1837 he impressed Cape Town audiences with his huge, life-size [[Automaton]] figures - his presentations described as "Mechanical and Picturesque Theatre of Arts" (Bosman, 1828: p. 231).  It “worked automatically through wires, ropes, steam” or someone inside the huge puppets.  It was one of the first recorded puppet displays in Cape Town (a [[M. Decanis]] preceded Parker, showing only one Automoton figure in June 1837).
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The company apparently performed daily from November 1837 till January 1838 in a space described as "[[The Mechanical and Picturesque Theatre of Arts]]", Long Street ("opposite [[Mr Bam]]'s").  
  
The first performance by the [[Automata]] was on 5 December 1837 and consisted of ''[[Polander]]'' , ''[[The Enchanted Turk]]'', ''[[Children in the Wood]]'' and ''[[Trip to Brentford]]''.
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Later he also showed the [[Automata]] in ''[[The Enchanted Witch, or Mother Shipton]]'', along with scenes from London life, including the Vaux-hall Gardens, the "Ascent of Mr Sadler's Balloon", etc.  
  
In 1838 the company took their show to Stellenbosch, Worcester, Swellendam, George and Uitenhage, in 1839 they were in Grahamstown.
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Another presentation by the company was ''[[The Battle of Navarino]]'', between the British, Dutch and French fleets.  
  
By 1848 Parker's [[Automata]] were back in Cape Town, but their run ended there.  
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In 1838 the company took their show on the road to Stellenbosch, Worcester, Swellendam, George and Uitenhage, finally ending in Cape Town again.
  
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In 1839 they were in Grahamstown.
  
=== Cape Town career as manager ===
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In 1847 or 1848 he was back in Cape Town with the [[Automata]], and apparently continued showing them till some time in 1851.
  
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==Cape Town career as manager 1847-1851==
  
In 1848 Parker leased the [[Drury Lane Theatre]] for one season as manager, intending to present the [[New English Theatrical Company]] (also referred to as [[Parker's Company]] in some sources) in a season of light dramas and operas.  However, they only performed ''[[Luke the Labourer]]'' in January 1849 before harsh critique by [[Sam Sly]] caused the company to close down. In 1850 they performed at the [[Victoria Theatre]] ([[Hope Street Theatre]]) and the year after they were back at [[Drury Lane Theatre]], after which they seemed to disappear from the scene. [TH, JH]
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With his second period in Cape Town,  Parker apparently  also moved into more formal theatre by leasing the new [[Drury Lane Theatre]] for one season as manager, to present the semi-professional  [[New English Theatrical Company]] (also referred to as [[Parker's Company]] in some sources) in a season of light dramas and operas. (There are some doubts about the exact dates. According to [[W.G. Groom|Groom]]'s reminiscences  in the ''[[Cape Illustrated Magazine]]'' of 1899 (cited in [[F.C.L. Bosman|Bosman]], 1928: p. 419),  he saw Parker in 1847 and 1848, but [[F.C.L. Bosman|Bosman]], expresses some doubts about the 1847 date, stating that his research shows that while Parker was definitely in Cape Town in 1848 with his "[[Theatre of Mechanics]]", and at that time thus ''could'' have taken the [[Drury Lane Theatre]]. There is evidence however of a seasons in 1849, 1850 and possibly 1851. The company sometimes appeared in the [[Drury Lane Theatre]]  and at others in the [[Hope Street Theatre]] (by then known as the [[Victoria Theatre]]). 
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After that he seemed to have disappeared from the scene, though a company called the [[English Amateur Company]] now appeared to perform in the [[Garrison Theatre]], till some time in 1853. Whether Parker was still part of the company is uncertain. Given his proclivity to advertise himself, it seems unlikely.
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As manager Parker seems to have had some problems with the [[Drury Lane Theatre]] in his first season there, as may be seen from [[Sam Sly]]'s harsh critique of the theatre and the company in his review of their production of ''[[Luke the Labourer]]'' (Buckstone) in January 1849. besides the acting, Sly found found the space noisy and that the ventilation  abominable (cited in [[F.C.L. Bosman|Bosman]], 1928: p. 419). Apparently this even caused the company to close down temporarily.
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Listed among the company members (which included officers from the [[Garrison Players]] and other amateur actors from local groups), by were [[H. Hughes]] (who was both actor and stage manager), [[Mr Miller]], [[Mr Etton]], [[Mr Rogers]], [[Mr Herbert]], [[Mr Tilbury]],  [[Mrs Parker]], [[Mrs Hughes]] and master [[C. Hill]]. 
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The company's repertoire under Parker's management included ''inter alia'' the above mentioned ''[[Luke the Labourer]]'' (Buckstone), as well as ''[[Victorine]]'' (Buckstone) , ''[[The King's Command]]'' (Thompson) and ''[[Damp Beds]]'' (Parry), ''[[Woman's the Devil]]'', ''[[Matteo Falcone]]'' (Merimée, tr. Wilson), ''[[The King's Command]]'' (Thompson), ''[[The Midday Ashore]]'' (Bernard).
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 +
 
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[TH, JH]
  
 
== Sources ==  
 
== Sources ==  
  
See Bosman, 1928;
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[[F.C.L. Bosman]]. 1928. ''Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika'', Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: [[J.H. de Bussy]]. [http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/bosm012dram01_01/]: pp. 231-2, 384-6, 417-423,502.
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[[P.J. du Toit]]. 1988. ''Amateurtoneel in Suid-Afrika''. Pretoria: Academica.
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[[Jill Fletcher]]. 1994. ''The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930''. Cape Town: Vlaeberg. 
  
Du Toit,  1988;
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circus_clown
  
Fletcher, 1994
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http://www.silentclown.com/history-page.htm
  
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Go to [[South African Theatre/Bibliography]]
  
 
== Return to ==
 
== Return to ==

Latest revision as of 06:14, 11 May 2017

W.F.H. Parker was a puppeteer, magician and impresario from England.

He was the owner of a theatrical company (sometimes referred to as Mr Parker's Theatre of Mechanics), which toured internationally showing huge, life-size Automaton figures. They “worked automatically through wires, ropes, steam” or through someone inside the huge puppets.

Cape Town career as puppeteer 1837-1839, 1849-1851

In 1837 Parker arrived in Cape Town and impressed audiences with the Automaton figures, billed as the "Mechanical and Picturesque Theatre of Arts" (Bosman, 1828: p. 231). It was one of the first recorded puppet displays in Cape Town (a M. Decanis preceded Parker, showing only one Automaton figure in June 1837).

The first performance by the Automata - or as they were billed as "Mr Parker's Theatre of Mechanics" was on 5 December 1837 and consisted of Polander , The Enchanted Turk, Children in the Wood (Morton) and Joey Grimaldi's Trip to Brentford (possibly their version of the classic comedy riding act called Billy Buttons, or the Tailor's Ride to Brentford)

The company apparently performed daily from November 1837 till January 1838 in a space described as "The Mechanical and Picturesque Theatre of Arts", Long Street ("opposite Mr Bam's").

Later he also showed the Automata in The Enchanted Witch, or Mother Shipton, along with scenes from London life, including the Vaux-hall Gardens, the "Ascent of Mr Sadler's Balloon", etc.

Another presentation by the company was The Battle of Navarino, between the British, Dutch and French fleets.

In 1838 the company took their show on the road to Stellenbosch, Worcester, Swellendam, George and Uitenhage, finally ending in Cape Town again.

In 1839 they were in Grahamstown.

In 1847 or 1848 he was back in Cape Town with the Automata, and apparently continued showing them till some time in 1851.

Cape Town career as manager 1847-1851

With his second period in Cape Town, Parker apparently also moved into more formal theatre by leasing the new Drury Lane Theatre for one season as manager, to present the semi-professional New English Theatrical Company (also referred to as Parker's Company in some sources) in a season of light dramas and operas. (There are some doubts about the exact dates. According to Groom's reminiscences in the Cape Illustrated Magazine of 1899 (cited in Bosman, 1928: p. 419), he saw Parker in 1847 and 1848, but Bosman, expresses some doubts about the 1847 date, stating that his research shows that while Parker was definitely in Cape Town in 1848 with his "Theatre of Mechanics", and at that time thus could have taken the Drury Lane Theatre. There is evidence however of a seasons in 1849, 1850 and possibly 1851. The company sometimes appeared in the Drury Lane Theatre and at others in the Hope Street Theatre (by then known as the Victoria Theatre).

After that he seemed to have disappeared from the scene, though a company called the English Amateur Company now appeared to perform in the Garrison Theatre, till some time in 1853. Whether Parker was still part of the company is uncertain. Given his proclivity to advertise himself, it seems unlikely.

As manager Parker seems to have had some problems with the Drury Lane Theatre in his first season there, as may be seen from Sam Sly's harsh critique of the theatre and the company in his review of their production of Luke the Labourer (Buckstone) in January 1849. besides the acting, Sly found found the space noisy and that the ventilation abominable (cited in Bosman, 1928: p. 419). Apparently this even caused the company to close down temporarily.

Listed among the company members (which included officers from the Garrison Players and other amateur actors from local groups), by were H. Hughes (who was both actor and stage manager), Mr Miller, Mr Etton, Mr Rogers, Mr Herbert, Mr Tilbury, Mrs Parker, Mrs Hughes and master C. Hill.

The company's repertoire under Parker's management included inter alia the above mentioned Luke the Labourer (Buckstone), as well as Victorine (Buckstone) , The King's Command (Thompson) and Damp Beds (Parry), Woman's the Devil, Matteo Falcone (Merimée, tr. Wilson), The King's Command (Thompson), The Midday Ashore (Bernard).


[TH, JH]

Sources

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp. 231-2, 384-6, 417-423,502.

P.J. du Toit. 1988. Amateurtoneel in Suid-Afrika. Pretoria: Academica.

Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circus_clown

http://www.silentclown.com/history-page.htm

Go to South African Theatre/Bibliography

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Return to ESAT Personalities P

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

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