History

The Lost Art of Painting A Scene

In the 19th century scenic designers were talented artists who quickly produced temporary masterpieces for their managers. It was a laborious process involving precise brushwork and intense concentration.

One of the most famous and esteemed scenic designers of the time was George Gordon, who created many and varied scenes for Australian audiences through his 15 year tenure. They ranged from common English indoor parlours to exotic locales and climes.

Before The Fringe

Australian experimental theatre in the 60s was stripped bare. by Clem Gorman.

Before there was a Fringe, hovering on the edges of the established theatre, in Sydney there was a bold, sometimes naive, but always exciting strand of live performance, running its own race outside the Establishment, called Experimental Theatre.

How Ambition Ruined Early Aussie Champion of Local Talent

Bendigo-born William Anderson produced melodramas with Australian themes, authentic local settings and local talent, but gambling, on horses and grand schemes, eventually proved his undoing. Leann Richards re-introduces the charismatic showman, once mentioned in the same breath as J.C. Williamson.

In the early 20th century most Australian theatrical entrepreneurs were foreign born. There was one exception, William Anderson. For over thirty years Anderson dominated Australian melodrama and actively supported native writers, actors and producers.

What broke the heart of the World’s Greatest Juggler?

Juggler Paul Cinquevalli made four visits to Australia between 1899 and 1914. He was a skilled showman who perfected the art of juggling to a degree seldom seen. One of his favourite places became Australia until fate intervened. Cinquevalli was Polish and started his performing life as a trapeze artist. However a bad accident transformed the mediocre acrobat into the world’s greatest juggler. Cinquevalli called it ‘the fluke of my life’.

Wife Accuses Stage Hero of Sleeping with all the Damsels: Read All About It!

Leann Richards reports on how the whiff of backstage shenanigan’s made the front page in 1901, when actors used their skills in a courtroom drama of love and jealousy.

Toni Lamond - Lady in Lights

Neil Litchfield interviewed Toni Lamond for Stage Whispers about her astonishing career shortly after the announcement of her Green Room Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. “A large part of my early career was based in Melbourne, in vaudeville, and the Tivoli, with the Tivoli being the top of the tree. I wanted to be on the Tivoli, and I wanted to be on Broadway. That, to me, was Nirvana. I got to the top of the Tivoli, and I thought, ‘Gosh, I’ve done it, here I am at age 20, and I’m top of the tree.’

Diamonds were our Merry Widow’s best friend.

Despite being jilted at the altar, Carrie Moore took to the stage wearing the diamonds that millionaire Ernest Tyson had given her. It was 1901 and 18 year old Carrie Moore was at the height of her fame, starring in the J. C. Wiliamson production of Florodora.

Dancing Star’s Love Scandal

No Gilbert and Sullivan joke, this. A court case over a breach of promise of marriage once tainted a sweetheart of the Australian stage. Leann Richards reports on the life of Maggie Dickinson … a dancer who brightened Australia’s theatres during some of the country’s darkest days.

Have you seen Harry Lauder yet?

Almost 100 years ago Scottish singer and comedian Harry Lauder was given an extraordinary welcome to Australia and the hype was repaid when he charmed the pants off audiences. Sadly the Great War wiped away his smile. Leann Richards reports.

It was August 1914. Harry Lauder, with his wife and son, John, were sitting at lunch in a Melbourne hotel. War had just been declared and a strange feeling was in the air. A hall porter came in from outside holding a telegram.

“Lieutenant Lauder,” he called.

Theatre’s Poor Cousin: How Circus Fell off the High Wire.

These days Australian circus is a vibrant industry, as typified by the internationally acclaimed Circus Oz, and regular tours from International acts such as Cirque Do Soleil. But this was not always the case. For much of the last century the once prosperous industry was in steep decline. It’s one of the stories uncovered by Mark St Leon in his beautiful new illustrated book, Circus: The Australian Story. Stage Whispers is proud to present this edited extract.