One of our most enthusiastic and energetic members was the late Mr. Charles Pittar, a well-known and much-respected solicitor of the High Court, and the father of Mrs. George Girard, the wife of our genial Collector of Income-Tax. He was on all occasions well to the front, and the services he rendered to the society on many momentous occasions were invaluable, more especially in “London Assurance,” to which I have previously alluded. In fact, it is not too much to say that without him it would have been very difficult to stage the piece. As “Dolly” Spanker, my husband, he was inimitable, and brought down the house two or three times during the evening. He was also very great as “Little Toddlekins,” a part that might have been specially written for him. The character is that of a stout, somewhat bulky and unwieldy young person who possesses an inordinate appreciation of her own imaginary charms. Her father, whom I might designate as a fly-by-night sort of a gentleman, a character which I once ventured to portray myself, is obsessed by the one thought of getting rid of her as quickly as possible, but all the would-be suitors the moment they set eyes on her beat a hasty retreat. There were, of course, very many more pieces that Mr. Pittar played in, but these two were the chef d’oeuvres of his repertoire.
As I am writing, the memory of another member of the company flits across my mind, in the person of the late Mr. H.J. Place, familiarly known as “H.J.,” the founder of the well-known firm of Place, Siddons and Gough. Although he was never cast for very prominent characters, he was most useful in minor parts, and in other little ways helped the company along by his many acts of unselfish devotion.
I must now regretfully take leave of a subject which has always exercised a peculiar fascination over me, and I can truly say that those old theatrical days were amongst the very happiest of my life.
A year or two later, the first professional theatrical troupe came out from Australia under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, whom probably a few people may still remember. They erected close to the Ochterlony monument a temporary wooden structure, accessible by a steep flight of steps, and played in it for a few seasons, after which Lewis built the present Theatre Royal. He brought out several companies in successive seasons, and other companies also used to come and perform between-whiles, but only in the cold weather. Hot weather entertainments were practically unknown. With the advent of professionals, the Amateur Theatrical Association went out of existence, just as the starting of the Saturday Club later, mainly through the initiative of the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Louis Jackson, killed the assembly balls.