was a well known and popular marionette showman at the
end of the 19th Century and earlier parts of the 20th
Century. He was also an excellent writer on
theatrical technicalities and under the name of "Rose"
produced several books on this subject. He wrote a
series of articles for the "Boys Own Paper" on "How to
make and operate a Marionette Show", which appeared in
the volume for 1896 - 1897.
He was also an
accomplished artist and illustrated his books and
articles with some fine drawings all of which show a
complete understanding of his subject as well as skill
with a drawing pen.
in his Studio
Through the good
offices of Mr Arthur Elsbury, Rozella's son, Waldo
Lanchester and Harry Whanslaw of The London Marionette
Theatre were able to purchase the complete Rozella
fit-up, scenery and marionettes. They were unable
to use the theatre, which Whanslaw described as
"charmingly Victorian" and his great regret was that a
photo of it was never taken when it was fitted up.
The Rozella Marionette
Theatre did most of its shows in the days before
electric lighting was adapted to portable stages.
The dim light which illuminated Rozella's marionettes
came from a series of triangular shaped tin candlesticks
with reflectors and small oil lamps.
accompaniment came from a musical box of the type known
as a Polyphone. It used a collection of metal
discs which were each labelled with the name of a
different tune. However, Whanslaw wrote that all
the tunes sounded very much alike.
The puppets were very
well costumed. There were the usual Fantoccini
puppets, Stilt Walker, Chinese Bell Dancers, Policemen,
Clown, Pantaloon, Harlequin, Donkey and Cart.
There was also a figure which represented 'Shock-headed
Peter and a cow. Rozella christened his show 'The
Bijou Marionette Theatre' and on his handbill he
described it as "A Grand Vaudeville Performance by the
artistic and wonderful troupe of Mannikins, each
performer being a surprise of mechanical skill and
ingenuity, a brilliant parade of clever Fantoccini,
followed by a laughter-provoking, innocent, enjoyable
and interesting comic pantomime, concluding with a grand
transformation scene entitled The Home of the Fairies
in the Cavern of Jewels, comprising wonderful
changes and effects."
For nine consecutive
years, Rozella performed this show at the Mansion House,
London, on the occasions of the Lord and Lady Mayoress'
Juvenile Fancy Ball.
Rozella's name lived
on, when his puppets became part of the London
Marionette Theatre (in approximately 1930) and
subsequently the Lanchester Marionettes (1940s until
Waldo Lanchester retired). The
puppets were re-strung and adapted to Lanchester's own
way of manipulation.
Upsie with Baldo & Belsa in Lanchester's Grand Circus -
Postcard from Brian Green's Collection