Silk and satin theatre playbills and programmes were produced from the 18th century onwards, to commemorate special evenings at the theatre. This silk playbill, which copies the appearance of a paper playbill, was printed in Windsor, for a command performance in June 1803 at the Theatre Royal Windsor, near Windsor Castle. The evening consisted of a comedy and a farce, possibly revealing the taste of George III, the reigning monarch who would have attended the performance with his wife Queen Charlotte. It is one of the Museum's earliest silk playbills and its simple form indicates its date, since silk playbills became more opulent and fringed during the 19th century.
The star of the evening was the well-respected actor John Fawcett (1768-1837), who acted in both plays for this command performance and also performed a comic song. Fawcett began his career aged 18 playing serious roles, but during the 1790s he made his name in comic parts, performing at London's Covent Garden Theatre during the regular season and at the Haymarket Theatre in the summer. Fawcett's talent for comedy was also evident in the pantomimes he wrote in the early 1800s.
Silk programme for a command performance of The Poor Gentleman, and The Review, or, Wags of Windsor, starring John Fawcett (1768-1837), Theatre Royal, Windsor, 27 June 1803.
Silk programme on cream silk printed in black typography, each side finely hemmed, featuring a royal crest, centre top, the initials G and R on either side, and below the words 'BY COMMAND OF THEIR MAJESTIES THEATRE-ROYAL WINDSOR' Featuring the date, 27th June 1803 and the list of characters in the comedy, The Poor Gentleman, and the farce, The Review, or Wags of Windsor