James Flaunty, or the Terror of the Western Seas


8 pages

James Flaunty, or the Terror of the Western Seas

| 1901 | Strete, Ireland
Genre (as defined by the author)
Miniature Theatre
James Flaunty, Nancy McGowan, Captain Gig, Lieutenant Florry, Eldorado Gillen, William Pine, Beachcombers, Man-O'-War Sailors
Number of acts

Jack B. Yeats wrote a series of toy theatre (also called paper theatre) plays. In "My Miniature Theater" (The Collected Plays of Jack B. Yeats), he explains performing his plays each year during Christmastime to entertain the children of the valley where he lived.

His plays were birthed from the influence of Robert Louis Stevenson and from a nostalgia for a time when successful plays for actors were then adapted to toy theater. The sets, the characters, and an adaptation of the script were sold for one penny (in black and white) or two pence (in colour) so that children could recreate the play at home. Nevertheless, certain scenes from traditional theatre were difficult to adapt to toy theater. Therefore, Yeats, who created his own stories, chose to limit characters that did ‘almost nothing besides talking and walking majestically.’ He highlighted the importance of voice since each character had to be distinguishable by their tone and way of speaking. Regarding the creation of the set and the characters, Yeats glued his scenery to cardboard, using watercolors and Christmas garland as well as candles to provide lighting.

Plot summary

A pirate betrays his promise but escapes death

Thieves threaten a young man, Pine, on a beach. James Flaunty comes to his aid.

Sent by Captain Gig, Lieutenant Florry proposes to Flaunty to navigate, for a hefty sum of money, their vessel towards the Spiting Devil ship since he has good knowledge of the area. Nance, the daughter of the captain, warns of the danger of this mission, but Flaunty insists that the money will allow him to marry her.

A pirate from the Spitting Devil comes across Flaunty and asks him to give him Captain Gig's men in exchange for an even greater sum of money. After a moment of hesitation, Flaunty accepts. Pine, who overheard the conversation, pleads with Flaunty to bring him back after the battle since he has been trying to return to Ireland for several years.

The standoff doesn't go as expected, and Flaunty is accused of plotting against Captain Gig. He is sentenced to death and asks to be executed on the banks of a creek at sunset. Pine pretends to be responsible for the alliance with the pirates and sacrifices his life for Flaunty, who is liberated.

Composition date

Publications and translations


Jack B. Yeats, James Flaunty, or the Terror of the Western Seas. London: Elkin Matthews, 1901.

Modern edition

Jack B. Yeats, The Collected Plays of Jack B. Yeats, Robin Skelton (ed.). London, Secker and Warburg, 1971.

Literary tones
Humorous, Dramatic
Animations techniques
Toy theatre
Young audiences


Theatrical techniques


Written by

Cécile Decaix