Castle of Andalusia
by John O'Keeffe performed on Norfolk Island by convicts in 1840
The Castle of
Andalusia is an endearing comedy of misunderstandings, swapped identities,
bandits, songs and love.
this light-hearted theatre classic was performed by convicts in
the penal settlement of Norfolk Island in 1840.
Written by prolific
Dublin-born playwright John O'Keeffe (1747-1833), The Castle of
Andalusia premiered in London in 1782 and rapidly became one of
the most popular pieces on the British stage.
The text printed
here dates from 1807 and is likely to have been the version used
by the convicts when they performed the play "in the large
mess room with new scenery, dresses, music, songs, &c."
The Castle of
Andalusia is significant for Australia in many ways - our theatre
history, prison reform, the colonies' emergence from their harsh
convict origins, the spread of European culture, and human resilience
- and deserves to be better known.
Rob Wills, editor
of this first modern edition of The Castle of Andalusia, has degrees
in literature and languages from the Universities of Sydney and
of Andalusia is - "a species of drama made up of whim and
frolic", "highly risible", and a "must read"!
Elizabeth Inchbald's Introduction to the 1807 edition.
Play'd the Part of Don Caesar in the Opera of the Castle of Andalusia,
very well adapted for the Character, and Received Great Applause".
James Lawrence, convict actor in the 1840 Norfolk Island performance.
O'Keeffe was virtually forgotten for nearly one hundred and fifty
years until his comedy Wild Oats was restaged with great success
in 1976. Perhaps the time has come for The Castle of Andalusia
to be reconsidered in like fashion. It is a wild comedy of mistaken
identity and class snobbery, the whole leavened with rousing songs."
Professor Robert Jordan, author of The Convict Theatres of
Early Australia 1788-1840.
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