The cast in action on Victoria Day

May 30, 2011

Michael Gelman, our intrepid ASM, also a skilled photographer, has begun photographing the cast in action. Here are some glimpses of our Victoria Day rehearsal (23 May 2011) as seen through Gelman’s lens:

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The Water and Other Perils

May 30, 2011
Detail of Mill

Detail of Mill

This is the first in an an ongoing series of short posts by Dave Burnett, who trained as a real-life miller, and who also plays the old miller, Kelmar, in The Miller and His Men.

The Water and Other Perils by Dave Burnett

Ontario is dotted with old mills and remnants of them. Locations for settlements were often chosen on the basis of proximity to year round running water / topography to create a mill pond as a reservoir to manage water flow. The water flow could then be diverted to drive a water wheel and power the mill.

Coping with floods, torrents and drought were part of the miller’s lot. A miller would heed the weather because failure could mean the demise of his mill.

Likewise the grain and flour in the mill had to be kept clean and dry lest the flour not be fit for human consumption.


The Miller and His Men

May 26, 2011

On February 2nd, 1842, the Officers of the London Garrison, Canada West, performed a Melo-Drama—Sir Isaac Pocock’s Miller and His Men:

Advertisement for "The Miller and His Men" at the Theatre Royal in London, Canada West, to be performed on 2 February 1842We chose the Garrison’s Miller for our theatrical re-enactment because we were tickled by the idea of “repeating” a show had already been brought back “by particular request”. We have no record of the first production of Miller in London, but we must presume from this advertisement that there was another, earlier London performance of Miller in 1840 or 1841.

We know from Daniel Lysons’ autobiography that when he was stationed in London he “had charge of the theatre and painted the scenes.” Our re-production of Miller and His Men includes one of Lysons’ paintings as a scene backdrop, as well as paintings by other officers stationed in the London Garrison in the 1840s, including John Herbert Caddy and Sir James Alexander.

Daniel Lysons

Lieutenant Daniel Lysons, detail from Grand Military Steeple-Chase of May 9, 1843

Alexander described Lysons as “an officer of great talent and taste.” By his own account, Lysons was “a smooth faced boy” then, and regularly took on the ladies roles. At the time, all of the female roles were played by men. Lysons apparently excelled at these. A review of one of his performances from the London Herald of February 18th, 1843, reports:

Emma Leslie (Mr. Lysons, Royals.) wore the petticoats with an ease and grace well becoming the character. Every emotion, every gesture and movement, indicated a familiarity with the peculiarities of womankind, that does not fall to the lot of most men. Had we not known that he was a man, it would have been almost impossible to have convinced us to the contrary. (p. 2, c. 6)

We know that Lysons played Ravina in Miller and His Men when his regiment (the 1st Royal Scots) performed the play in Québec, and since he was still playing female roles in 1843, there is every chance that he also played Ravina when Miller and His Men was performed in London, Canada West. As a nod to this tradition, in our production of Miller and His Men, three of roles that men played are now being played by women!

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Alexander, James E. S. L’Acadie; Or, Seven Years’ Explorations in British America. London, EN: H. Colborn. 1849, p.237.

Lysons, Daniel. Early Reminiscences. London, EN: John Murray, 1896. p. 161.


Opening the Theatre

May 19, 2011

We are requested to state that the Garrison Theatre at this place, will be opened on Tuesday the 12th of July, 2011, when Garrison Theatricals will perform the highly popular Melo-Drama of Miller and His Men.