Silk Programme thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Silk Programme

1877 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Silk and satin theatre playbills and programmes were produced from the 18th century onwards, to commemorate special evenings at the theatre. Most theatres in the 19th century would have had some made to mark grand openings or milestone performances. By the end of the First World War however the practice had generally died out, only being revived very occasionally, more often at London's opera houses than any other theatres.

This silk was produced for Charles Wyndham's company at the Criterion Theatre at Piccadilly Circus, the intimate underground theatre that opened in March 1874 and became known as one of the leading light comedy houses in London. Charles Wyndham (1837-1919) made his name in London in 1866, in a burlesque at the Royalty Theatre, and was in his element in risqué farces such as On Bail, adapted by W.S. Gilbert from the French original Le Reveillon by Meilhac and Halevy. French farce was something of a speciality at the Criterion, including Doe and Roe's version of The Great Divorce Case and James Albery's The Pink Dominos. On Bail wasn't the success that Wyndham had hoped and only ran for five weeks. Gilbert complained that he had to force Wyndham to advertise it as an adaptation and not a new play, and that he did not allow enough time to rehearse the complicated stage business. Dorothy's Stratagem by J. Mortimer originally opened at the Criterion on 23 December 1876.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Printed silk
Brief Description
Silk programme produced for the opening of On Bail adapted by W.S. Gilbert from Le Reveillon by Meilhac and Halévey, starring Charles Wyndham as Jonathan Lovibond and Fanny Josephs as The Duke of Darlington, Criterion Theatre 3 February 1877, preceded by Dorothy's Stratagemby J. Mortimer. Letterpress on silk.
Physical Description
Silk programme on cream silk with integral fringes top and bottom, printed in black typography, headed 'CRITERION THEATRE, Lessee and Manager Mr. Alex Henderson. CHARLES WYNDHAM And the ENTIRE COMPANY, in a NEW COMEDY, by W.S. GILBERT'. Printed with the cast of Dorothy's Stratagemby J. Mortimer, and of On Bail by W.S. Gilbert, starring Charles Wyndham as Jonathan Lovibond. The programme also advertises Miss Lydia Thompson at the Folly Theatre in Checkmate and Robinson Crusoe. Undated.
Dimensions
  • Including fringe height: 24.0cm
  • Including fringe width: 41.6cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Credit line
Given by Antony Collieu on behalf of Charles Lepper.
Object history
Dorothy's Stratagem was first seen at the Criterion Theatre on 23 December 1876. In February 1877 it featured Mr. Ashley as Sir Frederick Selwyn, Mr. H. Standing as Arthur Selwyn, Mr. Charles Tritton as Reginald Brooke, Mr. Ridley as Christopher, Miss Myra Holme as Florence Mowbray, Miss Eastlake as Dorothy Fielding, Miss Edith Bruce as Rose, and Miss Maria Davis as Mrs. Bunch.



On Bail opened at the Criterion on 3 February 1877 featuring Mr. Charles Wyndham as Mr. Jonathan Lovibond, Miss Fanny Josephs as The Duke of Darlington, Mr Edward Righton as Alfred Trimble, Mr. John Clarke as Mr. Marcooly, Mr. J. Francis as Wilcox, Mr. H. Ashley as Hebblethwaite, Mr. Charles Tritton as Portiboy, Mr. Ridley as Jackson, Messrs Seeborne & Wright as The Duke's Servants, Miss Eastlake as Fanny Lovibond, Miss Maurice as Miss Montmorenci, Miss Myra Holme as Miss De Courcy, Miss Spencer as Miss Fitzbattleaxe, Miss Naudaine as Miss De Vere, Miss Nelly Bromley as Mrs. Hebblethwaite, and Miss Edith Bruce as Perkins. The play was adapted by W.S. Gilbert from the French play Le Reveillon by Meilhac and Halevy, previously produced at the Globe Theatre in 1874 in another version as Committed For Trial.
Associations
Summary
Silk and satin theatre playbills and programmes were produced from the 18th century onwards, to commemorate special evenings at the theatre. Most theatres in the 19th century would have had some made to mark grand openings or milestone performances. By the end of the First World War however the practice had generally died out, only being revived very occasionally, more often at London's opera houses than any other theatres.



This silk was produced for Charles Wyndham's company at the Criterion Theatre at Piccadilly Circus, the intimate underground theatre that opened in March 1874 and became known as one of the leading light comedy houses in London. Charles Wyndham (1837-1919) made his name in London in 1866, in a burlesque at the Royalty Theatre, and was in his element in risqué farces such as On Bail, adapted by W.S. Gilbert from the French original Le Reveillon by Meilhac and Halevy. French farce was something of a speciality at the Criterion, including Doe and Roe's version of The Great Divorce Case and James Albery's The Pink Dominos. On Bail wasn't the success that Wyndham had hoped and only ran for five weeks. Gilbert complained that he had to force Wyndham to advertise it as an adaptation and not a new play, and that he did not allow enough time to rehearse the complicated stage business. Dorothy's Stratagem by J. Mortimer originally opened at the Criterion on 23 December 1876.
Associated Objects
Collection
Accession Number
S.5005-2009

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record createdOctober 30, 2009
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