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The Castle of Andalusia is an endearing comedy of misunderstandings, swapped identities, bandits, songs and love. Remarkably, this light-hearted theatre classic was performed by convicts in the penal settlement of Norfolk Island in 1840.
Written by prolific Dublin-born playwright John O'Keeffe (1747-1833), The Castle of Andalusia premiered in London in 1782 and rapidly became one of the most popular pieces on the British stage. The text printed here dates from 1807 and is likely to have been the version used by the convicts when they performed the play "in the large mess room with new scenery, dresses, music, songs, &c."
The Castle of Andalusia is significant for Australia in many ways - our theatre history, prison reform, the colonies' emergence from their harsh convict origins, the spread of European culture, and human resilience - and deserves to be better known. Rob Wills, editor of this first modern edition of The Castle of Andalusia, has degrees in literature and languages from the Universities of Sydney and London.