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Mr Bannister's first night
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Mr Bannister's first night

Historic Documents
David Oswald
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Mr Bannister's first night
Historic Documents
Mr Bannister's first night
A broadside from 1811 announcing the exclusive show of Mr Bannister, referred to as "the first comedian of the British stage".

This would have been the actor John (or Jack) Bannister (1760-1836). An entry, written by Joseph Knight and revised by Nilanjana Banerji, for Bannister can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (available online with an active library membership). Bannister was a pupil of David Garrick, of the Drury Lane Theatre in London, and was one of the foremost comic actors of his day.

For six nights, Bannister was to perform in a comedy, Bold Stroke for a Wife, a comic song, The Tortoise-shell Tom-cat, and a farce, The Prize; or 2, 5, 3, 8.

These appearances in Aberdeen may have been part of a tour of the provinces and Ireland that Bannister commenced in 1809. His ODNB entry explains that the tour, comprising a monologue entertainment and songs, was called Bannister's Budget and was a financial, popular, and critical success.

Appealing to the expected high level of the entertainment, the reputation of the performer, and the great distance from Aberdeen to London, the theatre's manager, Mrs Mudie, hoped the public would understand slightly increased ticket prices for seats in the theatre's boxes and pit.

Tickets could be purchased from a variety of local booksellers; Messrs. Stevenson, Mortimer, Gordon, Spark and Watson or from a Mr. Phillips at the theatre's box office.

The Theatre Royal mentioned in this document, the first permanent one built in Aberdeen and opened in 1795, is no longer in use. It was turned into a church after the construction of Her Majesty's Opera House (later the Tivoli Theatre), which opened in 1872.

This playbill broadside was printed by Chalmers & Co. The document is referenced and transcribed in an Aberdeen Journal article from 26th November 1906, page 3, titled 'Two Aberdeen play-houses'. The article suggests that this might be "one of the earliest specimens of a local playbill probably in existence."
Aberdeen Local Studies
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