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Mapping ‘the whirligig of amusements’ in colonial Southeast Asia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2018


This article assesses the interconnected nature of Southeast Asia around 1900, the transnational entertainment scene in Southeast Asia, and the role of Singapore as a hub for commerce, shipping, and entertainment. The global and regional development of transportation and communications technology and networks facilitated the movement of people, goods, ideas, and amusement forms. The article is based primarily on archival research from colonial newspapers in the region. It surveys and maps more than one hundred itinerant entertainment companies that travelled throughout Southeast Asia around the turn of the century, thereby creating and visualising a circuit of entertainment.

Research Article
Copyright © The National University of Singapore 2018 

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This work was supported by a grant from the Magnus Bergvall Foundation.


1 Advertisement, Singapore Free Press, 7 June 1904, p. 2; Advertisement, Singapore Free Press, 8 June 1904, p. 2; ‘Wayang Kassim’, Straits Times, 9 June 1904, p. 5.

2 Advertisement, Straits Times, 16 Apr. 1902, p. 4; Notice, Malay Mail, 13 May 1907, p. 2; Advertisement, Malay Mail, 29 June 1907, p. 2. The troupe also went under the names the Indra Zanibar Royal Theatrical Company of Singapore and the Dutch and Malay Variety and Comedy Company.

3 Advertisement, Straits Times, 18 June 1908, p. 8; ‘The Wayang Kassim’, Straits Times, 18 May 1909, p. 8.

4 Notice, Straits Echo, 6 Mar. 1905, p. 4; ‘The Wayang Kassim’, Eastern Daily Mail, 12 Mar. 1906, p. 3; Advertisement, De Sumatra Post, 5 Sept. 1906, p. 7; Notice, Malay Mail, 29 Nov. 1906, p. 2; Cohen, Matthew Isaac, Komedie Stamboel: Popular theater in colonial Indonesia, 1891–1903 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006), pp. 319–25Google Scholar; Beng, Tan Sooi, Bangsawan: A social and stylistic history of popular Malay opera (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 18Google Scholar, 37.

5 Advertisement, Straits Times, 3 June 1904, p. 5; Advertisement, Straits Times, 7 June 1904, p. 5; Advertisement, Straits Times, 11 June 1904, p. 5; Advertisement, Straits Times, 14 June 1904, p. 5; Advertisement, Singapore Free Press, 14 June 1904, p. 2; Advertisement, Singapore Free Press, 18 June 1904, p. 2.

6 For more on Wayang Kassim, see Cohen, Matthew, ‘Border crossings: Bangsawan in the Netherlands Indies in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’, Indonesia and the Malay World 30, 87 (2002): 101–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar; van der Putten, Jan, ‘Bangsawan: The coming of a Malay popular theatrical form’, Indonesia and the Malay World 42, 123 (2014): 268–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 ‘The Paris Cinematograph’, Straits Times, 19 Jan. 1905, p. 4; Notice, Straits Times, 28 Mar. 1905, p. 4; ‘The Paris Cinematograph: An interesting exhibition’, Eastern Daily Mail, 23 Mar. 1906, p. 3.

8 The interconnectedness can be studied from many different perspectives, see for instance, Reid, Anthony, Charting the shape of early modern Southeast Asia (Chiang Mai: Silkworm, 1999)Google Scholar; Tagliacozzo, Eric, Secret trades, porous borders: Smuggling and states along a Southeast Asian frontier, 1865–1915 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005)Google Scholar; Loew, Rachel, Taming Babel: Language in the making of Malaysia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lewis, Su Lin, Cities in motion: Urban life and cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia, 1920–1940 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 Kahn, Joel S., Other Malays: Nationalism and cosmopolitanism in the modern Malay world (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2006)Google Scholar; Milner, Anthony, The Malays (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 Siang, Song Ong, One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore (London: John Murray, 1923)Google Scholar; Purcell, Victor, The Chinese in Southeast Asia (London: Oxford University Press, 1965 [1951])Google Scholar; Wickberg, Edgar, The Chinese in Philippine life, 1850–1898 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)Google Scholar; Ping, Lee Poh, Chinese society in nineteenth century Singapore (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1978)Google Scholar; Chinese circulations: Capital, commodities, and networks in Southeast Asia, ed. Tagliacozzo, Eric and Chang, Wen-Chin (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11 Farnie, Douglas A., East and west of Suez: The Suez Canal in history, 1854–1956 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1969), pp. 101–2Google Scholar; Hyde, Francis E., Far Eastern trade, 1860–1914 (London: A&C Black, 1973), pp. 1617Google Scholar.

12 Innes, J.R., Report on the Census of the Straits Settlements taken on the 1st March 1901 (Singapore: Government Printing Office, 1901), pp. 2933Google Scholar.

13 Scidmore, Eliza Ruhamah, Java: The garden of the East (New York: Century Co., 1898), p. 1Google Scholar.

14 In addition, several companies stayed in one city or country; those are not included in my tally.

15 Magee, Gary B. and Thompson, Andrew S., Empire and globalisation: Networks of people, goods and capital in the British world, c.1850–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 235CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 Miller, Harry, The story of Malaysia (London: Faber & Faber, 1965), p. 104Google Scholar.

17 Swettenham, Frank, British Malaya: An account of the origin and progress of British influence in Malaya (London: John Lane, 1907), p. 294Google Scholar.

18 Fraser-Macdonald, A., Our ocean railways; Or, the rise, progress, and development of ocean steam navigation (London: Chapman & Hall, 1893), pp. 97101Google Scholar; Headrick, Daniel R., The tools of empire: Technology and European imperialism in the nineteenth century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), pp. 138–9Google Scholar, 142; Headrick, Daniel R., The tentacles of progress: Technology transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850–1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 3741Google Scholar; Kuitenbrouwer, Maarten, The Netherlands and the rise of modern imperialism: Colonies and foreign policy, 1870–1902, trans. Beyer, Hugh (Oxford: Berg, 1991), p. 154Google Scholar; Hyde, Far Eastern trade, p. 159.

19 Editorial, Straits Times, 28 Oct. 1903, p. 4.

20 Headrick, Tools of empire, p. 130; Headrick, Tentacles of progress, pp. 20–21; Belfield, H. Conway, Handbook of the Federated Malay States (London: Edward Stanford, 1902)Google Scholar, Appendix A. The transit time through the Suez Canal was cut in 1887 when night travel became possible through electric ship headlights. The Canal was also made deeper and wider (Headrick, Tentacles of progress, pp. 26–7).

21 ‘A new line: Between Bangkok and Singapore’, Malay Mail, 9 July 1901, p. 3; ‘The Pacific trade’, Straits Times, 28 Nov. 1903, p. 5; Bangkok Times, 17 Apr. 1905, p. 3; ‘Trans-Pacific trade: Two new steamers to run from Seattle to the East’, Straits Times, 10 Oct. 1907, p. 8.

22 Robinson, Ronald E., ‘Introduction: Railway imperialism’, in Railway imperialism, ed. Davis, Clarence B. and Wilburn, Kenneth E. (New York: Greenwood, 1991), pp. 14Google Scholar.

23 This is also valid for other geographical areas throughout Australasia. See Matthew W. Wittman, ‘Empire of culture: U.S. entertainers and the making of the Pacific circuit, 1850–1890’ (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2010), pp. 224–5; Hughes, Stephen Putnam, ‘When film came to Madras’, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies 1, 2 (2010): 157Google Scholar; Cohen, Komedie Stamboel, p. 24; Waterhouse, Richard, From minstrel show to vaudeville: The Australian popular stage, 1788–1914 (Kensington: New South Wales University Press, 1990), p. 111Google Scholar; St Leon, Mark, Spangles & sawdust: The circus in Australia (Richmond: Greenhouse, 1983), p. 99Google Scholar.

24 For a historic overview of the Bay of Bengal, see Amrith, Sunil S., Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The furies of nature and the fortunes of migrants (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013)Google Scholar.

25 For more on the Parsi theatre and its circulation in Southeast Asia, see Gupta, Somanatha, The Parsi theatre: Its origins and development, trans. and ed. Hansen, Kathryn (Kolkata: Seagull, 2005)Google Scholar; Hansen, Kathryn, ‘Mapping melodrama: Global theatrical circuits, Parsi theatre, and the rise of the social’, BioScope 7, 1 (2016): 130Google Scholar; Hansen, Kathryn, ‘Parsi theatrical networks in Southeast Asia: The contrary case of Burma’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 49, 1 (2018): 433CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

26 ‘Parsee theatre’, Straits Times, 21 May 1898, p. 2; Notice, Singapore Free Press, 18 July 1898, p. 3; Advertisement, Singapore Free Press, 18 July 1898, p. 2; Advertisement, Soerabaiasch Handelsblad, 8 Dec. 1898, p. 3; ‘The Parsi theatre’, Bangkok Times, 5 June 1899, p. 2.

27 Wittman, ‘Empire of culture’, pp. 291–3.

28 ‘The Delroy Company’, Straits Times, 5 Apr. 1900, p. 2; ‘The Ada Delroy Company’, Singapore Free Press, 6 Apr. 1900, p. 3; ‘Ada Delroy Co’, Straits Times, 9 Apr. 1900, p. 3; ‘The Ada Delroy Company’, Singapore Free Press, 10 Apr. 1900, p. 3; ‘The Ada Delroy Co’, Straits Times, 11 Apr. 1900, p. 2; ‘En teatro Zorrilla’, El Progreso, 17 May 1900, p. 3.

29 ‘The Barnes’ Entertainers’, Straits Times, 30 May 1902, p. 4; ‘The Barnes Company’, Straits Times, 5 June 1902, p. 5.

30 The Dutch controlled both straits until the British East India Company leased Penang from the Sultan of Kedah in 1786. Penang was a strategic port of call heading to China, and hindered the Dutch trade. Hussin, Nordin, Trade and society in the Straits of Melaka: Dutch Melaka and English Penang, 1780–1830 (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2007)Google Scholar.

31 Farnie, East and west of Suez, p. 468.

32 Mitchell, B.R., International historical statistics: Africa, Asia & Oceania, 1750–2005, 5th ed. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), pp. 561–8Google Scholar.

33 Huff, W.G., The economic growth of Singapore: Trade and development in the twentieth century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 5052CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Latham, A.J.H., ‘The dynamics of intra-Asian trade, 1868–1913: The great entrepôts of Singapore and Hong Kong’, in Japanese industrialization and the Asian economy, ed. Latham, A.J.H. and Kawakatsu, Heita (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 147–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Transhipment, however, led to inaccuracies in trade statistics regarding origins and destinations; see SarDesai, D.R., British trade and expansion in Southeast Asia, 1830–1914 (New Delhi: Allied, 1977), p. 277Google Scholar.

34 Huff, The economic growth of Singapore, pp. 123–6. The share in terms of tonnage was different though, as ships arriving from Europe, Japan, or the United States were much larger. The national label of merchant vessels clearing Singapore shows that slightly more than half the ships were from Britain, followed by ships from the Netherlands and Germany.

35 Belfield, Handbook of the Federated Malay States, pp. 60–62, 80, 91; Hon-Chan, Chai, The development of British Malaya, 1896–1909 (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1964)Google Scholar, chap. 5; Huff, The economic growth of Singapore, p. 67.

36 Mitchell, International historical statistics, pp. 761–4. British Malaya had four million passengers in 1903 and five million in 1905, Siam had two million in 1905, French Indochina had eight million in 1907, and the Philippines had two million in 1910. The population of the Dutch East Indies was, however, considerably larger.

37 Advertisement, Soerabaiasch Handelsblad, 14 July 1897, p. 3; Advertisement, De Nieuwe Vorstenlanden, 6 Aug. 1897, p. 3.

38 Scidmore, Java, pp. 3, 7; del Mar, Walter, Around the world through Japan (London: A&C Black, 1903), p. 39Google Scholar; Bemmelen, J.F. van and Hooyer, G.B., Guide through Netherlands India, compiled by order of The Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (Royal Packet Company), trans. Berrington, B.J. (London: Thomas Cook & Son, 1903), p. 8Google Scholar.

39 Notice, Pinang Gazette, 31 May 1895, p. 2; ‘Paul Jones’, Singapore Free Press, 9 Oct. 1895, p. 3; ‘The Willard Opera Company’, Pinang Gazette, 23 Oct. 1895, p. 2; ‘The Willard Opera Company’, Singapore Free Press, 3 Mar. 1896, p. 2; ‘Willard Opera Co.’, Straits Times, 18 June 1896, p. 2; ‘The Willard Opera Company’, Straits Times, 7 July 1896, p. 3; ‘The Willard Opera Company’, Singapore Free Press, 20 July 1896, p. 2; ‘The Willard Opera Company’, Straits Times, 5 Oct. 1896, p. 2.

40 The independence process in Southeast Asia resulted in culturally heterogeneous nation-states, what Anthony Reid calls the ‘imperial alchemy’: transforming different ethnic groups such as Acehnese, Bataks, and Balinese into Indonesians; and Chinese, Malays, Kadazans, and Tamils into Malaysians. Reid, Anthony, Imperial alchemy: Nationalism and political identity in Southeast Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)Google Scholar.

41 In the 1890s, the Mexican silver dollar was the standard currency in British Malaya, and the US trade dollar, Japanese yen, and Hong Kong dollar were made unlimited legal tender. In 1904, a Straits dollar, connected to the gold standard, replaced the Mexican dollar at the same value.

42 ‘Teatralerias’, El Mercantil, 19 June 1903, p. 1; ‘De Teatros-Cinematografos. En El Parisien’, El Mercantil, 16 May 1905, p. 2; Advertisement, El Mercantil, 27 June 1905, p. 4.

43 See, for instance, Rosenzweig, Roy, Eight hours for what we will: Workers and leisure in an industrial city, 1870–1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983)Google Scholar; Peiss, Kathy, Cheap amusements: Working women and leisure in turn-of-the-century New York (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986)Google Scholar; Nasaw, David, Going out: The rise and fall of public amusements (New York: Basic, 1993)Google Scholar.

44 In my dissertation, I assess how film exhibitions affected colonial society, primarily in Singapore. Nadi Tofighian, ‘Blurring the colonial binary: Turn-of-the-century transnational entertainment in Southeast Asia’ (PhD diss., Stockholm University, 2013).

45 The companies I have found include Abell and Olman's Variety Co., Ada Delroy Co., Australian Burlesque Variety Co., Australian Vaudeville Co., Bandmann Comedy Co., Bandmann Comic Opera Co., Bandmann Dramatic Co., Bandmann Opera, Banvard's Variety Co., Barnes Co., Beresford Variety Co., Bijou Entertainers, Burmese Theatre, Cordelier-Hicks Variety Co., Dallas Opera, D'Arc's Marionettes, Elsie Adair's Entertainment, Empress Victoria Jawi Pranakan Theatrical Co., Excelsior Vaudeville, Flying Jordans, Frawley Comedy, Freear's Frivolity, French Opera, French Variety Co., Gaiety Stars, Grand Opera, Gulzar-e-Nekey (Bombay Theatrical Co.), Hicks Orioles Co., Hicks Variety Co., Indra Bangsawan Theatrical, Italian Opera, Japanese Imperial Acrobatic Co., Japanese Magic and Comedy, Japanese Tamakichi Troupe, José Zappala's Opera, Jovial Opera, Klimanoff Co., London Lyric Co., Malay Opera, Malay Theatrical Co., Malaya Opera, Merry Little Maids Opera Co., New Elphinstone Parsee Theatrical Co., O'Connor Opera, Opera Indra Permata Theatrical Co. of Selangor, Opera Indra Zabba, Opera Macao, Parsi Curzon Theatrical Co., Parsi Theatre Co., Pollard's Lilliputian Opera, Stanley Opera, Star Opera, Straits Opera, Transatlantic Variety Co., Wayang Ayesha (or Aishah), Wayang Indra Jaya, Wayang Kassim, Wayang Stamboul, Wayang Yap Chow Thong, Weatherley's, Wellington Barracks Theatre, Willard Opera, and Williamson & Maher's Chicago Tourist Minstrel and Variety.

46 Tan, Bangsawan, pp. 18, 31.

47 Lee, Tong Soon, Chinese street opera in Singapore (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009)Google Scholar.

48 de Wit, Augusta, Java: Facts and fancies (London: Chapman & Hall, 1905), p. 137Google Scholar. W. Basil Worsfold made a similar observation a decade earlier in A visit to Java: With an account of the founding of Singapore (London: Bentley & Son, 1893), p. 56Google Scholar.

49 Norman, Henry, The peoples and politics of the Far East: Travels and studies in the British, French, Spanish and Portugese colonies, Siberia, China, Japan, Korea, Siam and Malaya (New York: Scribner's, 1895), p. 421Google Scholar.

50 Young, Ernest, The Kingdom of the Yellow Robe: Being sketches of the domestic and religious rites and ceremonies of the Siamese (London: Constable, 1907 [1898]), p. 161Google Scholar.

51 ‘The drama in Bangkok’, Bangkok Times, 19 June 1905, p. 3; ‘The theatre in Siam’, Bangkok Times, 9 Oct. 1905, p. 3; ‘Siamese theatricals’, Bangkok Times, 28 Sept. 1907, p. 2; ‘The theatre in Bangkok’, Bangkok Times, 2 Oct. 1907, p. 3; ‘The theatre in Bangkok’, Bangkok Times, 1 Mar. 1909, p. 4.

52 Cohen, Komedie Stamboel.

53 Cohen, ‘Border crossings’: 112.

54 ‘The Parsi Theatre’, Bangkok Times, 5 June 1899, p. 2; Notice, Bangkok Times, 8 June 1899, p. 2; ‘Parsi Theatre’, Bangkok Times, 9 June 1899, p. 2; ‘The Parsi Theatre’, Bangkok Times, 10 June 1899, p. 2; ‘Parsi Theatre’, Bangkok Times, 13 June 1899, p. 2; Advertisement, Bangkok Times, 15 June 1899, p. 2; Advertisement, Bangkok Times, 16 June 1899, p. 3.

55 ‘The Parsee Theatre’, Straits Times, 1 Sept. 1901, p. 2.

56 Balme, Christopher, ‘The Bandmann circuit: Theatrical networks in the first age of globalization’, Theatre Research International 40, 1 (2015): 1936CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Balme, Christopher, ‘Maurice E. Bandmann and the beginnings of a global theatre trade’, Journal of Global Theatre History 1, 1 (2016): 3445Google Scholar.

57 Griffiths, Alison, ‘“To the world the world we show”: Early travelogues as filmed ethnography’, Film History 11, 3 (1999): 282307Google ScholarPubMed; Jennifer Lynn Peterson, ‘World pictures: Travelogue films and the lure of the exotic, 1890–1920’ (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1999).

58 The touring circuses I have found include Abell's (and Klaer's) Circus, Apollo Circus, Bartelle's Circus, Bose Circus, Bostock's Circus, Chatre's New Indian Circus, Circus Ibanez, Cooke's Circus, Filipino circus, Fitzgerald's Circus, Frank E. Fillis’ Circus, Great World Circus, Harmston's Circus, Hippodrome Circus, Indian Sandow's (Professor Ramamurti) Circus, Krishna Rao's Bombay Circus, Ott's Circus, Pacific Circus, Parasram Rao's Circus, Paul's Great Indian Circus, Prof. Deval's Indian Circus, Royal Italian Circus, Russian Circus, Spampani's European Circus, Wallett's Circus, Warren's Circus, Willison's Circus, and Wirth Brothers’ Circus.

59 See, variously, ‘El circo Ruso’, El Progreso, 10 Jan. 1902, p. 2; Advertisement, Straits Times, 24 Feb. 1905, p. 4; ‘Warren's Circus’, Bangkok Times, 14 Nov. 1905, p. 3; ‘Harmston's Circus’, Straits Times, 10 July 1906, p. 5; ‘The Opera Indra Zabba’, Straits Echo, 17 Aug. 1905, p. 4; ‘Harmston's Coming’, Straits Times, 9 Oct. 1905, p. 5; Straits Echo, 4 Dec. 1906; ‘El circo Spampani’, El Tiempo, 5 Feb. 1908, p. 3; ‘The Wayang Kassim’, Perak Pioneer, 16 Feb. 1909, p. 4; Cohen, Komedie Stamboel, p. 18.

60 Davis, Janet M., Circus age: Culture and society under the American big top (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), pp. 6Google Scholar, 14, 38; Kammen, Michael, American culture, American tastes: Social change and the 20th century (New York: Knopf, 1999), pp. 77–8Google Scholar; Leavitt, M.B., Fifty years in theatrical management (New York: Broadway, 1912)Google Scholar.

61 Cohen, Komedie Stamboel, pp. 12, 107, 111, 126.

62 Davis, Circus age, pp. 194–5.

63 Arrighi, Gillian, ‘The circus and modernity: A commitment to “the newer” and “the newest”’, Early Popular Visual Culture 10, 2 (2012): 169CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 171.

64 ‘Miss Elsie Adair's Entertainment’, Bangkok Times, 7 Dec. 1896, p. 2; ‘D'Arc's Marionettes’, Bangkok Times, 4 May 1901, p. 3; Editorial, Bangkok Times, 11 Oct. 1902, p. 2; ‘The Chronograph Show’, Perak Pioneer, 31 Dec. 1906, p. 5; Straits Echo, 24 June 1907.

65 ‘The Bioscope in Bangkok’, Bangkok Times, 3 Feb. 1903, p. 2.

66 ‘The Circus’, Bangkok Times, 21 Dec. 1900, p. 2.

67 Advertisement, Pinang Gazette, 7 Mar. 1895, p. 2.

68 ‘The Dallas Company. First night performance: “A country girl”’, Straits Times, 8 Feb. 1905, p. 5.

69 Wright, Arnold and Cartwright, H.A., Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: Its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources (London: Lloyd's Greater Britain, 1908), p. 198Google Scholar.

70 For the history of the phonograph in the region, see Suryadi, Surya, ‘The “talking machine” comes to the Dutch East Indies: The arrival of Western media technology in Southeast Asia’, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (BKI) 162, 2/3 (2006): 269305CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Tofighian, Nadi, ‘Watching the astonishment of the native: Early audio-visual technology and colonial discourse’, Early Popular Visual Culture 15, 1 (2017): 2643CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

71 Ruppin, Dafna and Tofighian, Nadi, ‘Moving pictures across colonial boundaries: The multiple nationalities of the American Biograph in Southeast Asia’, Early Popular Visual Culture 14, 2 (2016): 188207CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For a more detailed history of early cinema in Southeast Asia, particularly Dutch East Indies and British Malaya, see Ruppin, Dafna, The Komedi Bioscoop: Early cinema in colonial Indonesia (New Barnet: John Libbey, 2016)Google Scholar and Tofighian, ‘Blurring the colonial binary’.

72 Notice, Straits Times, 22 Oct. 1902, p. 4; Advertisement, Straits Echo, 4 Aug. 1905, p. 5; ‘The Moving Pictures Exhibition Company’, Straits Echo, 17 Aug. 1905, p. 4; ‘Au Chronomegaphone Gaumont’, Le Courrier d'Haiphong, 22 May 1908, p. 2.

73 ‘Beresford–Pettitt Surprise Party’, Singapore Free Press, 22 Aug. 1899, p. 3.

74 ‘The Royal Bioscope’, Straits Times, 1 Oct. 1902, p. 4; ‘The Bioscope’, Straits Times, 15 Oct. 1902, p. 5.

75 ‘American Bioscope Co’, Straits Echo, 7 July 1905, p. 4; ‘American Bioscope Co’, Straits Echo, 8 July 1905, p. 4.

76 ‘The Gaiety Stars’, Straits Echo, 2 Nov. 1905, p. 4.

77 Gullick, J.M., Kuala Lumpur 1880–1895: A city in the making (Petaling Jaya: Pelanduk, 1988 [1955]), p. 39Google Scholar; Tan, Bangsawan, pp. 74–5.

78 Straits Echo, 30 Aug. 1906. The Surabaya-based Italian Quintet charged 85 guilders per night (equivalent to $58). In 1891, Komedie Stamboel engaged them for 50 guilders ($34) per night (Cohen, Komedie Stamboel, p. 53).

79 ‘The chronograph’, Eastern Daily Mail, 23 May 1906, p. 3.

80 ‘Japanese cinematograph: The sign of the cross’, Eastern Daily Mail, 6 June 1906, p. 5.

81 Advertisement, Eastern Daily Mail, 18 Jan. 1907, p. 3; ‘Japanese Cinematograph’, Eastern Daily Mail, 21 Jan. 1907, p. 3; Advertisement, Eastern Daily Mail, 22 Feb. 1907, p. 3.

82 Advertisement, Eastern Daily Mail, 30 Nov. 1907, p. 2.

83 Notice, Straits Times, 16 Nov. 1908, p. 6; Advertisement, Straits Times, 16 Nov. 1908, p. 6; Advertisement, Straits Times, 17 Nov. 1908, p. 6.

84 Advertisement, Straits Times, 21 Nov. 1908, p. 1.

85 Advertisement, Malay Mail, 7 Aug. 1906, p. 3; Advertisement, Malay Mail, 1 Sept. 1906, p. 3; Advertisement, Malay Mail, 7 June 1907, p. 3.

86 Advertisement, El Progreso, 30 Aug. 1903, p. 4; Notice, El Mercantil, 13 Oct. 1903, p. 4.

87 Advertisement, De Sumatra Post, 11 Oct. 1906, p. 7.

88 Advertisement, Perniagaan, 16 Nov. 1907, p. 3.

89 Notice, Perak Pioneer, 10 June 1910, p. 4; Notice, Perak Pioneer, 27 Sept. 1910, p. 4.

90 ‘Warren's Circus’, Perak Pioneer, 28 Nov. 1901, p. 2.

91 ‘The London Lyric Company’, Pinang Gazette, 3 July 1894, p. 2.

92 Editorial, Perak Pioneer, 25 Oct. 1906, p. 2.

93 The dollar ($) refers to the Mexican dollar or the equally valued Straits dollar (depending on year). The exchange rate between the Mexican or Straits dollar and the guilder fluctuated during this period, and I use $0.68 per guilder as the exchange rate for the period. See Wright and Cartwright, Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya, p. 939; Scidmore, Java, p. 7.

94 Warren, James Francis, Rickshaw coolie: A people's history of Singapore, 1880–1940 (Singapore: NUS Press, 2003 [1986])Google Scholar, chaps. 3 and 4; Belfield, Handbook of the Federated Malay States, p. 21.

95 Van Bemmelen and Hooyer, Guide through Netherlands India, pp. 204–5. Third-class tickets between Singapore and Surabaya cost 20 guilders, and Batavia–Surabaya 10 guilders. First-class tickets were five times as expensive, and there were also fourth-class tickets.

96 Prices exclude the cost of gas (Notice, Straits Times, 23 Mar. 1903, p. 4).

97 Cohen, Komedie Stamboel, pp. 172–4.

98 Notice, Straits Times, 6 Apr. 1893, p. 2.

99 ‘The London Chronograph Show’, Malay Mail, 28 Aug. 1906, p. 3.

100 ‘Le biographe parisien’, La France d'Asie, 19 Apr. 1906, p. 2; ‘The Grand Cinematograph’, Perak Pioneer, 20 July 1906, p. 2; Advertisement, Eastern Daily Mail, 15 Dec. 1906, p. 3; Advertisement, Eastern Daily Mail, 21 Mar. 1907, p. 3.

101 ‘The Cinematograph’, Perak Pioneer, 27 Dec. 1906, p. 4.

102 Notice, Perak Pioneer, 25 Aug. 1906, p. 2. It is not clear whether the $1,000 included the travel expenditure.

103 ‘Wayang Kassim’, Perak Pioneer, 5 Oct. 1906, p. 3.

104 Notice, Perak Pioneer, 8 Jan. 1910, p. 4.

105 ‘The Zig-Zag Co.’s visit: Contract enforced’, Bangkok Times, 16 Mar. 1907, p. 2. The exchange rate of the tical or baht was fixed at $0.60 during the second half of the 1800s, although the rates became more volatile around the turn of the century; see Ingram, James C., Economic change in Thailand 1850–1970 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1971), pp. 149–54Google Scholar; Mackenzie, Compton, Realms of silver: One hundred years of banking in the East (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1954), p. 196Google Scholar.

106 Cohen, Komedie Stamboel, pp. 82, 93, 111, 131, 174, 204.

107 ‘Harmston's Circus’, Straits Times, 8 Aug. 1910, p. 6; ‘Harmston's Circus: A bumper house’, Malay Mail, 8 Aug. 1910, p. 7; ‘Harmston's Circus’, Malay Mail, 10 Aug. 1910, p. 7. In Kuala Lumpur, they reportedly had a gross income of $2,763.40 for one night.

108 Notice, Malay Mail, 8 July 1907, p. 3.

109 Notice, Times of Malaya, 16 Feb. 1907, p. 4.

110 Advertisement, Straits Echo, 30 Oct. 1905, p. 5.

111 Notice, Perak Pioneer, 7 Jan. 1910, p. 4.

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