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Deaf actors using sign language perform a play about Don Guzman to an audience in St Saviour's church hall, London. Wood engraving by G. Durand, 1877.

  • Durand, Godefroy, 1832-1896.
Date
[24 February 1877]
Reference
17967i
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view Deaf actors using sign language perform a play about Don Guzman to an audience in St Saviour's church hall, London. Wood engraving by G. Durand, 1877.

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Credit: Deaf actors using sign language perform a play about Don Guzman to an audience in St Saviour's church hall, London. Wood engraving by G. Durand, 1877. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark

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Description

"Soirée of the deaf and dumb. Although dumb show or pantomimic action is common enough upon the regular stage, especially at this season of the year, it is a novelty to witness a dramatic entertainment where not only the performers, but the bulk of the spectators--we had almost written auditors--are deaf mutes. Yet such was the case at the annual soirée of the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb, held at St. Saviour's Lecture Hall, 272, Oxford Street, on the 7th inst. The proceedings commenced with a bountiful tea, followed by some speeches which were interpreted by the finger and sign language. To these succeeded some feats of legerdemain, and then came the pièce de resistance, an amateur drama entitled Don Guzman; or, the Ruined Duke. The characters were ably sustained by a number of deaf and dumb performers; Don Fernando and Don Guzman being especially well delineated by Mr. C. W. Moore and Mr. S. Thomson. For the benefit of the few visitors who were unacquainted with the finger and sign language, the Rev. S. Smith, Secretary of the Association, undertook the task of explaining the plot and progress of the play, which he did in a very humorous and entertaining manner. The drama was written by Mr. S. Thomson, and the dresses kindly lent by Mr. May, the costumier, of Bow Street. And now let us say a word as to the work of the Association. It is established to provide religious and secular instruction for the deaf and dumb after they have passed through the schools for deaf mutes, and were it not for the thoughtful care thus bestowed upon them, their position would be very helpless indeed. They are regularly visited at their own homes, and aid is also given to enable them to obtain employment. The Society has also assisted the School Board in commencing and carrying out the education of deaf and dumb children in their schools."--The graphic, loc. cit.

Possibly a version of the play 'Gusman d'Alfarache, comédie-vaudeville en deux actes' by Henri Dupin and Eugène Scribe, published in 1816, adapted in turn from the picaresque novel Guzmán de Alfarache by Mateo Alemán, 1599-1604

St Saviour's Church for the Deaf and Dumb, 272 Oxford Street, London, was a large new Gothic church, on the corner of Oxford Street and Lumley Street (then called Queen Street). Thanks to fund-raising led by the Rev. Samuel Smith, it was constructed in 1870-1873 to the designs of (Sir) Arthur Blomfield. The lecture hall was in the basement. The building was demolished in 1923, to be replaced as a church for deaf people by St. Saviour's, Armstrong Road, Acton, in 1925 (Survey of London, loc. cit.). Smith stands on the left of the stage in the present print

Publication/Creation

[London] : [The graphic], [24 February 1877]

Physical description

1 print : wood engraving

Lettering

Scene from drama of 'Don Guzman'. A sketch at a soirée of the Royal Association in aid of the London deaf and dumb. G. Durand.

References note

The Illustrated London News, 10 February 1877, p. 127 ("The annual Christmas soiree of the West-End Branch of the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb, took place at St. Saviour's Lecture Hall, 272, Oxford-street, on Wednesday evening, under the presidency of Sir Antonio Brady. A curiosity in the entertainment was the performance of a play in signs, the Rev. S. Smith being the interpreter.")
'Oxford Street: the rebuilding of Oxford Street', in Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The buildings), ed. F.H.W. Sheppard (London, 1980), pp. 176-184. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol40/pt2/pp176-184 [accessed 11 February 2022]

Reference

Wellcome Library no. 17967i

Languages

  • English


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