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For the last Time this Season... The Death of Captain Cook... [with a revival of Sheridan's "The School for Scandal"]
Halifax: New Theatre, 1790. Printed playbill, 280 x 152 mm., dated 8 December 1790. A rare provincial English playbill advertising a performance of "The Death of Captain Cook" in late 1790, 'as performed in London and Paris with unbounded applause', and here stated to be shown 'for the last time this season.' This pantomime had been first performed at Covent Garden in 1789 and, as other examples of such playbills we have recently handled attest, provincial performances were pleasing crowds right around the United Kingdom over the following twelve months. Interestingly, by comparison with another Halifax playbill sold by us in 2008 it can be shown that the pantomime was performed in that city for the third time on 19 November, and this 8 December show confirms the long-running success of the show in West Yorkshire.The nature and tone of the fascination with the South Seas is made clear in the description of the scenes, which include the "modes and manners of the Islanders making Love", "a View of the Sea and Ship Resolution", and of the "Funeral Procession of Capt. Cook". Indeed, as the title makes explicit, it was the death of Cook which particularly captivated the audience, a scene which is known to have been used as a vehicle for a number of spectacular effects on the English stage, only hints of which survive today in ephemera such as this.In this context, it is particularly interesting to note that this production calls attention to the "painting by Mr. Stanton": no traces of this particular painting appear to survive, but within the context of the series of playbills that are known, this is an unusual reference to the actual staging of the provincial shows, considering that it was the great scene of Cook's death which was such an important factor in the pantomime's ongoing success. Perhaps Stanton was a lion of the Halifax theatre: the playbill notes that no half price admissions will be sold, 'on account of the great expence attending the representation.'As commonly, the parts are listed in some detail: the director of the piece is 'Mr. Bonville', who himself takes the demanding role of Pareea ('the favorite Lover'), while 'Mrs. Bonville' plays Emai, 'Daughter of the King'. Attractively, this playbill also advertises the so-called Grand Pantomimic Ballet of the Death of Captain Cook as being for sale at the Printing Office and Box Door for 6d.Keenly collected, such playbills, particularly from the first year or so of the play's production, are now of some rarity. Provenance: Private collection (USA). A little toning but generally very good; tipped onto old paper sheet, modern frame.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House]
Last Found On: 2018-01-09           Check availability:      Direct From Seller    

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