Thursday, September 4, 2014

More Esperanto Theater

Too late to get tickets, of course.
Ivy Kellerman Reed’s translation of As You Like It (Kiel Plaĉas al Vi) was the first, but not the last time a play in Esperanto was presented in the Washington, D. C. area. While I cannot say this with any great authority, it seems that most (if not all) Universalaj Kongresoj include theatrical performances (among other matters), it’s probably a rarity for a play in Esperanto to be produced outside a Kongreso, although there are some records of plays produced by local Esperanto groups.

The Washington Times reported on September 4, 1912 that a group of high school students from the Washington High School Esperanto Club would be mounting a production of a play titled Ĝis La Revido[1] in Annapolis, Maryland. There is no subsequent review of this play, so we do not know how the students acquitted themselves.
Play in Esperanto to Be Produced Tonight
Washington will be represented tonight at the County Teachers’ Institute of Anne Arundel county, now begin held in Annapolis by the dramatic club of the Washington High School Esperanto Club. Six members of the club will give a play in Esperanto in the high school building there. The club will leave Washington on the the electric line at 6:15 o’clock, and its members are scheduled to appear before the meeting at 9 o’clock.

Those to take part in the Esperanto production are Miss Isabell McCaffrey, Miss Bertha Becker, Ernest M. Knapp, Lawrence H. Cake, Charles E. Nickles, and Robert Bruce.

After the theatrical production, Miss McCaffrey and Mr. Bruce will give talks on and in Esperanto.

The play to be produced is entitled “Ĝis La Revido,”[2] and is written principally in Esperanto, although enough English is interspersed to make it intelligible to the layman. The play is built around he inability of an American traveling salesman to speak the Esperanto language, and depicts his embarrassing predicaments.

Exhibits of postcards from all parts of the world, gathered by young members of the Esperanto clubs, will be made, and literature regarding the universal language will be displayed.
Ms. McCaffrey was 18, Ms. Becker 17 (and it seems they both took jobs as stenographers after high school), Mr. Knapp was 18 (and after being a messenger, became a stenographer), and Mr. Cake was 16 (a messenger after high school, but a lawyer by 1920). I can find two men named Charles E. Nickles in D. C. at the time, and they’re both a little old. The younger, would have been 21 at the time of the play. Perhaps he had kept with his high school Esperanto club. Robert Bruce has a sufficiently common name to make him difficult to track down definitively, but there was an 18-year-old of that name in D.C. in 1912.

In May 1913, Amerika Esperantisto noted that Ms. McCaffrey had moved from Washington to Boston. The March 1913 issue includes the text of Everybody’s Doing It, a one-act play by Ms. McCaffrey, which the magazine notes was presented on November 21, 1912 by the Washington High School Esperanto Club. The play is mostly in English.

Initially, I wrote that "The earlier play does not seem to have been published." Yes it was. "Ĝis la Revido," by Joseph H. Nobel, was published in the February 1911 Amerika Esperantisto.

  1. Until We Meet Again.  ↩
  2. The Times wrote this as “Gis La Revido.”  ↩

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