Archive for the ‘West Hartlepool’ Category

Professor Valentine at the Victoria Theatre Royal, West Hartlepool

Friday, March 18th, 2011

There’s a bit of a mystery about this week’s subject – I can’t any reference to this performer anywhere – but we are back in 1872 for Professor Valentine’s appearance at the Victoria Theatre Royal for the week of 16 September:

Professor Valentine at Victoria Theatre Royal, West Hartlepool Poster  - From Tyne and Wear Archives

From Tyne and Wear Archives

In close up we can see that he is “The Great Slack Wire Performer, in his Unparalleld Acts of Juggling, Ballancing, &c which must be seen to be credited”.

Professor Valentine at Victoria Theatre Royal, West Hartlepool Poster Close up - From Tyne and Wear Archives

From Tyne and Wear Archives

Does anyone out there know anything about him?

Monsieur Lavanti at Victoria Concert Hall, West Hartlepool

Friday, November 26th, 2010

This time I have a fairly early poster from the Victoria Concert Hall in West Hartlepool, which includes a performance from Monsieur Lavanti “Champion Juggler” for the week of May 2, 1870:

Lavanti at the Victoria Concert Hall Poster

From the Tyne and Wear Archive

Unfortunately I can’t find anything about this chap, or any suggestion of what championship he might be claiming to have won. Does anyone out there have any leads?

Bank Holiday Bonus III – A printer’s warning

Monday, August 30th, 2010

It seems that not all jugglers can be trusted. In 1972 Robert Wood wrote a book entitled “The Victorian Provincial Printer and the Stage; an essay based on information gleaned from the papers left by John Procter and his son”. It has a section describing the letters that printers sent to each other to warn their colleagues about dodgy characters. Here’s one of them:

Letter from Wood, R (1972). The Victorian Provincial Printer and the Stage; an essay based on information gleaned from the papers left by John Procter and his son

From Wood (1972)

Middlesbrough
Dear Procter,

A person named Shaw, ‘recreative philosopher’ or ‘Juggler’, left this part six years ago, owing me 21/-. He is now in the neighbourhood and tells me a ‘cock and bull story’ about giving someone the money to pay me and that this somebody gave him a receipt, purporting to be mine, and he is going to prosecute the individual.

He promises to pay me this week, whether or no, so you had better look out for some tin should you do him any work.

Yours truly,

J. JORDISON

Juggling at the Theatre

Friday, April 30th, 2010

We’re used to seeing jugglers performing in theatres, but there seems to have been a short period of popularity of plays (or maybe just one play) about them.

In April 1873 two plays featuring juggling where showing in the north east of England. The New Gaiety Theatre of Varieties in West Hartlepool is showing Life of a Showman on the 4th and 5th April:

Life of a Showman 4 April 1873 - From the Tyne & Wear Archives

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

And the Theatre at Choppington is showing Juggler of Paris on 4th and 10th April:

Juggler of Paris 4 April 1873 - From the Tyne & Wear Archives

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

This poses a bit of a problem when you look at the details. Despite the plays having different names the characters are the same and so are the cast; we have to assume that it’s essentially the same play. So how are the same people acting in the same play on the same day in towns that are 40 miles apart? Even in those days where a single trip to the theatre would include two or three different full length shows the simply wouldn’t be time to make the journey by horse in the course of an evening.

The answer may be in the source of the posters. These are part of the Wood Collection in the Tyne and Wear archive, and is a collection saved from a printer’s in Hartlepool when they went out of business. As you delve through the old posters you often come across corrections and markings on the posters that show that they’re proofs. So maybe only one of these performances went ahead – maybe neither did.

Whatever the actual occurrence in April, things have moved on by October, and on both the 3rd and 6th Jocrisse the Juggler is showing at the Theatre Royal in West Hartlepool:

Jocrisse the Juggler 6 October 1873 - From the Tyne & Wear Archives

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

In this close up from the poster for 3rd October we can see that the same characters appear as they did in Life of a Showman and Juggler of Paris back in April, but the cast are different this time.

Jocrisse the Juggler 3 October 1873 (detail) - From the Tyne & Wear Archives

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

Finally we see what may be another revival on 21st March 1921 – though the only detail we have is that The Juggler is a “Story full of pathos…admirably acted…which cannot fail to interest” – so it may be a completely different show.

The Juggler 21 March 1910 - From the Tyne & Wear Archives

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

Of course none of this tells us if there was actually any juggling in the play, and whether either the juggling or the play are any good. An internet search doesn’t really shed any new light on that point, but the list of new plays licenced in England in 1961 suggests that that Jocrisse the Juggler was originally called Magloire the Prestigiater and was written by Thomas William Robertson. Back then the word ‘juggler’ applied to the object manipulators that we know now, but also to magicians.  The word ‘Prestigiater’ implies a sleight-of-hand artiste to me, so this whole article might have been a wild goose chase – but the text is available from www.amazon.co.uk, so I’ll add it to my wishlist!