Great War Theatre

Address: London, UK

Performances at this Theatre

N/A God Save the EmpireUnknown
N/A RealitiesUnknown
N/A PrologueUnknown
N/A TacticsUnknown
N/A La Petite ChocolatièreUnknown
N/A The Hotel de WaterlooUnknown
N/A Le Loyer d'OlivetteUnknown
21 Sep 1914 DoorstepsUnknown
24 Sep 1914 FeliciaUnknown
29 Sep 1914Unknown
8 Dec 1914 Sir RupertUnknown
21 Dec 1914 Heroes, Every One Of ThemUnknown
21 Dec 1914 Home to Tipperary: A Play for Mothers and WivesUnknown
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No evidence has been found of this performance, however, the Court Theatre held a matinee on 21 December 'for the purposes of further recruiting and giving entertainment to wounded soldiers' (Scotsman, 22 December 1914). It is possible that 'Home to Tipperary' was performed as part of the variety programme. The audience was partly composed of wounded soldiers and the Countess of Cromer, Lady Tenterden, Lardy Sargood and the Hon. Mrs Walter Trefusis were some of those who gave their patronage.
12 Apr 1915 AlsaceProfessional
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The play was performed for around one month at the Court. Reviews were mixed: "It is not a play of any serious artistic account" (Illustrated London News, 7 April 1915); 'Alsace has been staged for a fortnight, but we should not be surprised if its run at the Court Theatre is prolonged much beyond that time' (Globe, 13 April 1915); 'Although "Alsace" was written long before the war, it is curiously applicable to the present time.' (Era, 14 April 1915) Cast included: Madame Réjane,Yvonne Mirval, Madame Vernoux, Madame Maine,Madame Depernay, Jane Milda, Madame Vara, Madame Dienard, Madame Brunet (actress), Theo Bosman, Monsieur M?illy Jules Delacre, George Desplas, Mr Marechal, Robert Tourneur, Mr Mertens, Lucian Mussiere, Jean Petit, Jacques Remiche, Jean Vermeuil.
13 Jul 1915 Le Baiser Sous La MitrailleProfessional
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Performed at the Royal Court Theatre on Tuesday 13 July as part of a Special Matinee, alongside 'Remember Louvain' by Captain R. W. Mockridge.
13 Jul 1915 Remember LouvainProfessional
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Performed as part of a special matinee at the Royal Court Theatre. It was the main piece in the second Act and followed the patriotic song 'Oh! Tommy Atkins, Here's Good Luck' by Mrs Lynedoch Moncrieff, and performed by M. Georges Mauguiere. A note in the programme added that 'After the play was written the following appeared in the Westminster Gazette, of September 19th, 1914 - "Coming out of the town I witnessed a terrible sight, the funeral of a little boy who had dared to point a wooden gun at a Prussian soldier! He was a child of five'. (VAM Theatre Collections, Royal Court production folder, 1915). The performance was followed by a patriotic song called "The Message of the Flag" written by Captain Mockridge and with words by C. Roxburgh Wylie. It was the first performance of the song in public.
28 Sep 1915 That Affair of Betsy'sProfessional
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Performed as the second act in a patriotic matinee in aid of the Lord Roberts Memorial Fund, organised by Miss Ruth Parrott. Also in the matinee were a prologue specially written for the occasion by Mr Raymond Blathwayt and performed by Ellen Terry, recitations of 'Bread and Wine' and 'The story of Matilda' by Lilian Braithwaite, a speech by Miss Parott, and a cornet solo by Mr Herbert Godfrey. There was a tea interval between acts I and II with tickets at 1/- each.
18 Oct 1915 PatachonUnknown
23 Nov 1915 Castle GhostsUnknown
6 Feb 1916 Pan in AmbushProfessional
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Performed by the Pioneer Players with Miss Patterson herself in the role of the faun (see Daily Sketch, 7/2/1916 and Tatler, 23/2/1916). This was a subscription performance and the other pieces in the bill were 'The Conference' by Delphine Gray and 'The Dear Departing' by Leonid Andreiev translated from the Russian by Julius West.
11 Mar 1916 Kultur At HomeUnknown
11 Mar 1916 Kultur At HomeProfessional
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Acts 1, 2, and 3 take place at Borstadt, a small garrison town in Prussia, in January and June, 1914. Act 4 takes place in Luxembourg on August 4, 1914’. The Pall Mall Gazette, 15 March 1916 printed as an advertisement the following reviews of Kultur at Home: The Sunday Times (J. T. Grein): ‘The play of the young year. The play of the war. It matters, it grips; since “An Englishman’s Home” we have not had a play with a purpose so intense, so interesting, so searching’. The Daily Mirror: ‘A more terrible indictment of Prussianism (the evil thing that we are out to fight and to slay) has never been penned’. The Daily Mail: ‘An amusing picture of a people who have lost their sense of humour’. The Daily News: ‘“Kultur at Home” is an interesting and thrilling play. Should be a success’. The Daily Express: ‘An intensely interesting, finely acted study of German domestic and military life, photographically true to life’. The Daily Graphic: ‘A remarkable play’. The Daily Sketch: ‘A brilliant, penetrating study of life in a German family. Mordant humour and relentless realism’. The Evening News: ‘Exceedingly well done and acted brilliantly’. The Pall Mall Gazette: ‘A very clever and very fair comparison of English and German failings’. The Evening Standard: ‘The first reasonable war play which has yet been written. One would like this play to succeed’. The Globe: ‘By far the finest war play the war has suggested. War or no war, it would carry conviction as a wonderfully faithful picture of German life’. The Referee: ‘Bright, satirical, but scrupulously fair; finely acted and received with every favour’. The Weekly Dispatch: ‘There is very much more than a good entertainment in “Kultur at Home”’. The People: ‘The audience laughed heartily. They were so moved when, in the final moments of the play, war is declared, that they joined in singing the national anthem’. Lloyd’s Weekly: ‘The play is a scathing indictment of German social customs’. The News of the World: An elaborate and convincing study of English and German manners. The play held the house’. ‘“Kultur at Home” … is by far the finest play the war has suggested. But it is not really a “war play.” It would stand, in all times, for a tragedy of girlhood misguided. War or war, it would carry conviction as a wonderfully faithful picture of German life … Let no one say the picture is overdrawn. Rather let it be explained to the uninformed reader that there are some bestialities of German character and conduct in home life, where even there is culture of a kind, too gross and horrible for suggestion on the stage, and therefore eliminated from this picture. The touch of Hogarth is hardly for the modern theatre'. The Globe, 13 March 1916. ‘Kultur at Home obviously has the purpose of bringing before the playgoing public certain aspects of German life with which the reading public is already familiar … There is considerable skill and satirical humour in the pictures of middle-class Prussian life, and an effort has been made at something like impartiality, but, in fact, the contrast between the fastidious, refined English girl and the group of little provincials is too extreme to be satisfactory, and decidedly weakens the dramatic value of the work, whilst the motive of the heroine’s behaviour in the last act seems a little farfetched'. The Scotsman, 13 March 1916. ‘With the scrupulous fairness on which, as a nation, we pride ourselves, Mr. Rudolf Besier and Mrs. Sybil Spottiswoode, in their play “Kultur at Home" … have divided our sympathies between a husband and wife of different nationalities, both unadaptable, each possessed of the typical characteristics of the nation to which they belong, and minus the true basis of love - comradeship. Although undeniably interesting, the play is unhappy in that in England, at any rate, it answers no purpose except as an argument against mixed marriages. In the impossible event of its production in Germany, it would certainly have the surprising effect of answering the prayer which we are teaching the Prussian officer to make, “O, wad some power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us” … The play was very well received. In response to loud calls, the authors appeared, and joined with the audience in the singing of “God save the King,” led by Mr. Otho Stuart and Mr. Malcolm Cherry, still in his field uniform’. The Era, 15 March 1916. ‘The most notable play of the year, so far as it has gone, is “Kultur at Home … The piece is not so much a drama as a highly-coloured panoramic view of life as lived in a Teutonic military environment. It is the story of an English girl, who, in 1914, came to a little garrison town, somewhere in Prussia, fell in love with an officer, married him despite her father’s objections, and paid dearly for her venture. The clash of racial manners and ideals is well developed by the authors … but the piece does not act to foster hatred between the two peoples, and its main lesson is that “Kultur” and “Culture” are as widely separated as the poles'. Freeman’s Journal, Dublin, 16 March 1916. ‘Scarcely a war-play, it is, nevertheless, a piece of stage-journalism, a drama of propagandist intent, which Mr. Besier and his colleague Sybil Spottiswoode have given at the Court in “Kultur at Home.” Theirs is a tale of mixed marriage - English girl with Prussian officer - and it draws a contrast between German and English ideas of culture. The authors try to hold the scales fairly, and, if they expose the narrowness and truculence of the sort of views held about domestic life and conduct and art and manners in a German garrison town, they do not fail to credit the unaccommodating English wife with a certain air of condescension and recklessness of opinion … there are emotional scenes provided that stir the blood, thanks to the strong acting of Miss Rosalie Toller and Mr. Malcolm Cherry, and address an appeal to national sentiment. So that, as a tract for the times as well as an exciting story, “Kultur at Home” has a right to expect a good measure of popular patronage’. Illustrated London News, 18 March 1916. ‘The new play Kultur at Home, which was produced last Saturday at the Court Theatre, bids fair to be a success. In spite of its title, it is not really war play, but rather a dramatic study of the contrast between the Prussian and the English temperament in domestic life … there could have been no better medium for the exposure of the aspirations and beliefs, the provincial culture and the bullying disposition, of the militant Prussian, than this version of what is, I believe, the very common story of the refined and educated Englishwoman who has had the ill luck to marry into a Prussian family’. Cheltenham Looker-On, 18 March 1916. '‘We are a queer people! A few years ago we should have disbelieved anybody who got up and told us that the German could be such a beast as, since August, 1914, he has proved himself to be in the mass. Now we disbelieve any account of Goodness which comes out of Germany at all. Probably they are doing just the same thing in Germany with regard to ourselves, except that, very probably, the German ‘‘hate’’ point of view is even more exaggerated than ours. But that, of course, is easily understandable in a nation which possesses not the least vestige of a sense of humour... Kultur at Home is far and away the best “war” play we have had since the war played havoc with all plays. It is dignified; it is fair and just; above all, it is serene … Kultur at Home is not only the best war play we have had, but it is also one of the best acted - certainly one of the most interesting plays to be seen in London at the present time. Its chief dramatic merit is that the authors have not committed the fault of elaboration, a process that spoils many a good picture’. The Tatler, 22 March 1916. ‘Mr. Rudolf Besier and Miss Sybil Spottiswoode have obviously got their facts concerning “Kultur” at first-hand, and the result of their work is a most reliable and interesting picture of life in a Prussian Garrison Town. The satire is without any trace of cheap malice, and is, therefore, all the more enjoyable'. The Bystander, 22 March 1916. 'although the authors have collected for their German models such extreme cases of brain-warped arrogance and sensuality that the characters become more ludicrous than repulsive, and cannot be taken to represent average Prussian households, it is probable that in every home in that misguided land there is to be found a good deal of the atmosphere now created on the Court Theatre stage, so that this partial fidelity to type, added to the wit of the language used, has provided an equally interesting and entertaining play. Some people say that the public want to forget the war when they are in the theatre, and others that plays about the war are just the things with which to attract people at present. The success of some war-topic pieces and the failure of others has, however, once again proved that the way a play is written is more important than the general subject around which it is built, or, in other words, that “The play’s the thing.” All the same, there is no doubt that “Kultur at Home” owes most of its attraction to the presence of the Germans in the piece, and that these same Germans would not have had half the fascination for us a couple of years ago, so that there is something to be said for topicality on the stage after all … . But for the inexorable law of space one could dwell for columns on the many incidents which show the difference between the German and English points of view, and these really form the fascination of the piece'. Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 1 April 1916. ‘Huns on Kultur at Home. I admit to a certain amount of surprise when I was told at the Court Theatre yesterday that “Kultur at Home,” which is running there, has been receiving Press notices in Germany. Mr. Otho Stuart tells me he has received a cutting from the Vossische Zeitung commenting at length upon the production. The Hun calls it a garbled version of a German book, and says that all the faults the German attributed to England the English attribute to Germany’ Daily Mirror, 6 April 1916. ‘The review in The Athenaeum, no. 4604 (April 1916), 207, is less critical [than a review in the Times, 13 March 1916]. Although the play is seen as “exaggerated”, “illogical on some points” and containing “a glaring inconsistency”, it is described as “the best play with particular reference to the war yet put on the stage” (Heinz Kosok, The Theatre of War. The First World War in British and Irish Drama (Palgrave: Basingstoke, 2007, p. 271 n. 85; viewed at According to the index there are further mentions of the play at pp. 86–7, 170, 196 and 236.
1 Jul 1916 Paddly PoolsProfessional
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Performed as part of a matinee organised by Ruth Parrott and Dorothy Dawkins in aid of the Star and Garter Building Fund, and performed at 3pm on 1 July 1916. In the second act, Gertrude Jenning's 'The Rest Cure' was also performed.
21 Jul 1916 Fleur-de-LysUnknown
15 Dec 1916 GrandfatherProfessional
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Performed by Annie Horniman's company, in a matinee at 2.15 and followed by 'Hindle Wakes'. Performed at least through to the beginning of January 1917. Music was also performed by the Aeolian Ladies' Orchestra under the direction of Rosabel Watson.
8 Jan 1917 Where is he?Professional
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Performed in a double bill, as the second piece following 'The Amazons' by Arthur Wing Pinero. Performed by Annie Horniman's company as part of their season at the Court, every afternoon at 2.15 and Weds, Thurs and Sat evenings at 7.45pm. Performed until further notice.
19 Feb 1917 RutsProfessional
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Performed by the London Repertory Theatre, with a note in the programme at the VAM Theatre Collection that 'RUTS is the play which was awarded the £100 prize given by Messrs. Grossmith and Laurillard in connection with Mr J. T. Grein's All-British play competition.
26 Feb 1917 The Immortal MemoryProfessional
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Performed by the London Repertory Theatre for two performances at 2.30pm, and followed by a concert of living British composers. Admission prices varied from Boxes £3, 3s and £2 2s to Gallery at 1/-
5 Mar 1917 PartnershipProfessional
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Performed for two matinees at 2.30pm by the London Repertory Theatre and followed by a concert of music by living British composers.
8 Mar 1917 Miquette et sa MèreUnknown
13 Mar 1917 Miquette et sa MèreProfessional
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Performed by a company of French performers for six matinees at 2.30pm as part of the Théâtre des Alliés.
22 Mar 1917 Les Surprises du DivorceUnknown
28 Mar 1917 Les Surprises du DivorceProfessional
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Performed by a company of French performers for six matiness at 2.30pm as part of the Théâtre des Alliés season.
16 Dec 1917 The Philosopher Of ButterbigginsProfessional
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Performed in a three-part production, followed by 'Fetes Gallantes' by Madame Donnet, and 'Vote by Ballot' by Granville Barker.
22 Dec 1917 The ProdigyProfessional
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Performed twice daily at 2.30 and 8.15pm from 22 December 1917. 'Although there was good acting in some of the parts one fears one cannot prophesy a very triumphant career - at any rate, in the West-End - for 'The Prodigy' (Referee, 23/12/17). 'At any rate, it is short; and perhaps it might appeal to a high-spirited holiday audience, prepared to laugh at anything' (Observer 23/12/1917)
7 Feb 1918 Pauv'YetteUnknown
7 Feb 1918 Signs of the TimesUnknown
17 Feb 1918 RealitiesProfessional
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This was a private performance at the Royal Court, and took place at 5pm.
18 Feb 1918 RealitiesProfessional
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Following the private performance which appears to have taken place the previous day at the Court, this was billed as the 'first time on any stage' of this new Ibsen play. It was performed daily at 2.30 and Weds, Thurs and Sat evenings at 8.15pm. Audiences were warned in the programme that 'The audience will be informed when an Air Raid is impending. This will be indicated by turning up the Electrolier int eh Auditorium for the space of one minute. Should the warning be received during an interval an announcement will be made form the Stage. The 'ALL CLEAR' notice will be similarly indicated immediately it comes through.' (VAM Theatre Collection, Royal Court files).
11 Mar 1918 In My Neighbour’s GardenUnknown
1 Apr 1918 Fox and GeeseProfessional
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Performed by Arthur Sinclair's company, The Irish Players, for one week. The bill included 'Tactics' by Thomas King Moylan. Tickets were priced at 10/6 for stalls, Dress circle, 7/7 and 5/-, Upper Circle 5/- and 4/-, Pit, 2/6, and Gallery 1/-.
8 Apr 1918 The CoinerProfessional
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Performed by Arthur Sinclair's company, The Irish Players, for one week. The bill included 'The Building Fund' by William Boyle, and 'Duty' by Seumas [sic] O'Brien Tickets were priced at 10/6 for stalls, Dress circle, 7/7 and 5/-, Upper Circle 5/- and 4/-, Pit, 2/6, and Gallery 1/-.
8 Apr 1918 DutyProfessional
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Performed by Arthur Sinclair's company, The Irish Players, for one week. The bill included 'The Building Fund' by William Boyle, and 'The Coiner' by Bernard Duffy. Tickets were priced at 10/6 for stalls, Dress circle, 7/7 and 5/-, Upper Circle 5/- and 4/-, Pit, 2/6, and Gallery 1/-.
15 Apr 1918 TacticsProfessional
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Performed by Arthur Sinclair's company, The Irish Players, for one week. The bill included 'The Playboy of the Western World' by J. M. Synge. Tickets were priced at 10/6 for stalls, Dress circle, 7/7 and 5/-, Upper Circle 5/- and 4/-, Pit, 2/6, and Gallery 1/-.
20 Jul 1918 Be Careful BoyUnknown
31 Aug 1918 Damaged GoodsProfessional
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Performed nightly at 8pm with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2.30pm. Also in the bill was the Court String Quartette with selections from their repertoire. A notice was included in the programme (VAM Theatre Collections, Royal Court files) warning the audience that they would be informed when an Air Raid was impending as the Electrolier int eh Auditorium would be turned up for one minute.
24 Nov 1918 ParentsProfessional
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Performed as part of a matinee given by Miss Euphan MacLaren in aid of the Women's Volunteer Service. The programme included 'Karen and the Red Shoes' and 'The Debutante' (mimes for children), 'Cinderella goes to the Ball', 'The Spirit of the Heather', a ballet entitled 'The Coming of Joy', a piece entitled 'The Corned Beef Can Band' and a children's concert party 'Happy-go-Lucky'.