Boxing day entertainment, 1867: the Imperial Japanese Troupe

Japanese Troupe

On Boxing Day, 1867, Birmingham welcomed the opening of ‘an important addition to the stock entertainment of the town’ with the launch of the Curzon Exhibition Hall. The ‘capacious and handsome building’ was designed to be a permanent and prominent feature in the town and the opening performance suitably spectacular. The public notice below is transcribed from Aris’s Birmingham Gazette of December 27 1867. Birmingham’s historical and extensive archive of newspapers is available to view on microfilm in the Local Studies Centre at the Library of Birmingham.

Curzon Exhibition Hall
top of Suffolk Street, Paradise Street, Birmingham

This day (Saturday) at Two p.m.,
Doors open at half past one.
THIS EVENING at half past seven p.m.,
Doors open at half past six.

from the Court of Jeddo, Japan.

Directors of the troupe, Messrs. THOMAS MAGURE and
Professor RISLEY

This is the most extraordinary assemblage of Oriental Artistes, who have at any time visited European Shores. The Company number


Selected from the Imperial Troupe attached to the Japanese Court. Artists as celebrated in their own land as the most renowned Operatic performers would be in London or Paris.
They have nothing in common with any small company of Japanese who may have preceded them in this land, and have never been seen anywhere in Great Britain. Arrangements had been made for their appearance in London, and so great was the confidence of the Directors in their power to attract the largest and most fashionable audiences that they had secured for three months, 


When the unfortunate destruction of that edifice, by fire, rendered it requisite for them to seek another place for the début.  Unable to obtain one of sufficient magnitude in the Metropolis they have engaged CURZON HALL, Birmingham, which has been newly fitted up and especially decorated for the occasion. Brought from Jeddo, in Japan, to California, by Professor Risley, the well-known Artist and Traveller, after his sojourn there of four years, being the only Imperial Artists ever permitted to leave their own land, this wonderful Corps of Artistes were taken to the Atlantic States of America. They performed at


To audiences of 3,ooo nightly, and during the past summer were the chief attraction of Paris, next to that of its Great Exhibition, being the occupants of the


For three months, and appearing to assemblages of nearly 4,000 persons at each performance. 

They will make their bow to English audiences at CURZON HALL tonight (Saturday) December the 28th in their SINGULARLY ORIGINAL, ORIENTALLY FANTASTIQUE and MARVELLOUSLY BEWILDERING ENTERTAINMENT.

Doors open each evening (during Christmas week) at half past Six, commence at Seven.

at Two o’clock

Today (Saturday) December 28th                   Monday December 30th
                       Thursday January 2nd

Admission: Side seats and promenade 1s. Centre seats, 2s.  Stalls, 3s.

*****Curzon Hall became a cinema almost as soon as moving pictures became popular (it was showing ‘Living Picture Shows’ as early as 1899). During the First World War it became a military recruitment centre, but after the war, in the later 1920s it was taken over by the Gaumont  and the building became the locally popular ‘West End Cinema’. The doors were finally closed in the late 1960s when it was demolished to make way for Alpha Tower.



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