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homeless men photographed by flashlight at night under the awning of the Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, London, about 1903

May 24, 2014

homeless men photographed at night under the awning of the Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, London, during an engagement of John Hewelt (Charles de Saint-Genois), puppet master and creator of ‘startlingly lifelike’ marionettes.
(photo: unknown, London, circa 1903)

The original caption to this photograph read, ‘FLASHLIGHTS ON SALVATION ARMY WORK. A Queue Outside the Palace Theatre. These men are lounging outside the Palace Theatre in order to bask in the grateful warmth which surges up through the gratings from the engine rooms below – taken at 1.30 a.m.’
(The Bystander, London, Wednesday, 23 March 1904, p. 180).

John Hewelt made the first of several return visits to the Palace Theatre of Varieties, London, in March 1897.
‘The programme at the Palace Theatre has been further diversified and improved by a number of new ”turns” … The principal change in the programme last night was, however, the production of Mr. John Hewelt’s automatic theatre. This is on the lines of the old marionette shows – with a great difference. It shows us for the first time in England as French café chantant in full swing. There is an orchestra, whose conductor gravely swings his baton, and the musicians go through the motion of playing. The audience in the boxes glance through their opera glasses at the people in the stalls, and evidently engage in conversation when the performers are on the mimic stage, though occasionally they applaud. The performers have a galvanised liveliness about them which is most amusing.’
(The Standard, London, Friday, 12 March 1897, p. 3d)

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