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British performances of Java, 1811–1822

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Abstract:

This article looks at the reception of the British interregnum of Java (1811–1816) in the theatre through a comparison of Jane Scott's pantomime The Poison Tree (1811), George Colman the Younger's melodrama The Law of Java (1822) and the case of 'Princess Caraboo', a Devonshire serving girl who posed as a princess from 'Javasu' in Bristol in 1817 and later performed the story of her career as an impostor on stage in America. The author examines these productions in their historical contexts, as well as later stagings, including the film Princess Caraboo (1994) starring Phoebe Cates, and the 2006 Royal Holloway production of The Law of Java. He suggests that not only did stage interpretations of Java offer a ground for imperial fantasy and virtual travel, but they also presented opportunities for the articulation of a range of contemporary issues related to class, gender, human rights and modes of governance.

Keywords: BRITAIN; JAVA; PANTOMIME; THEATRE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5367/000000009787586389

Publication date: March 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • South East Asia Research publishes articles based on original research or fieldwork on all aspects of South East Asia within the disciplines of archaeology, art history, economics, geography, history, language and literature, law, music, political science, social anthropology and religious studies. This peer-reviewed journal is published four times per year by IP Publishing in cooperation with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). SOAS is the leading centre in this field in Europe and one of the most prestigious centres of South East Asian Studies in the world.

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