History

Reunion Day – a Play Revived

The cast at the reading of Reunion Day

A play by Peter Yeldham. Playreding at AFTRS Theatre. Entertainment Quarter, Sydney. 26th June 2022

Carol Wimmer reports on the history of this Australian play, banned in the 1960s, and its recent re-discovery

Counting Pennies on Stages Past.

Archivist Susan Mills provides an insight into the way Australia’s grandest theatre organisation paid its actors and their fight for better conditions during a golden era for the performing arts.

The past is a vast tangled web of connections and context. Indeed, every type of record and ephemera gives us the whole picture of performing arts history.

The Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation Archives preserves photographs, programmes, scripts, and designs, but just as important are theatre administration records.

The Make-up Box

Coral Drouyn remembers an icon of show business, and a part of her own family’s history.

Ball at the Savoy

Image: Fred Conyngham and Molly Fisher in With Pleasure, Madame (1936)

To mark its first recording in English, Peter Pinne explores how a sparkling jazz operetta, chased out of Germany by the Nazis, found an audience in Australia.  

The Art and History of Puppetry

Are puppets all child’s play? Not according to Susan Mills. The archivist for the S,B&W Foundation says that puppetry is a universal, ancient artform which is for everyone.

A puppet history

Historians believe puppetry developed spontaneously from religious rites and rituals in societies, where objects represented gods and deities. From there, the entertainment and storytelling art of puppetry was born.

Sydney’s First Play

On 4 June 1789, a little over a year after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove, a “party of convicts” presented the lively comedy The Recruiting Officer to celebrate the birthday of King George III.  

The play, a favourite of the time, was performed in “a convict-built hut” and honoured by the presence of His Excellency the Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip and an audience of 60 officers and their wives.

A Treasure Trove of Programmes

Theatre programmes have provided an invaluable historical record in Australia for just on 225 years. Susan Mills, the archivist at the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation in Sydney, looks at their history.

Politics and Broadway.

Image: Hamilton Australian cast. Photographer Daniel Boud.

Coral Drouyn looks at how the political scene has shaped Broadway musicals.

Kate Mulvany’s Joy, Magic and Darkness

Image: Kate Mulvany in The Literati (Photographer: Daniel Boud).

As Kate Mulvany perfected her new work to open Sydney’s renovated Wharf Theatre, the celebrated writer and actor shared with Martin Portus her vivacious signature of joy, magic and darkness – and a remarkable career lived in pain.  

More Stage Superstitions

In part two of this series, Coral Drouyn explores more of the myths and superstitions that have shaped the history of theatre.

If all the world’s a stage, it stands to reason that there will be as many superstitions in theatre as there are in real life. Well, not quite. There’s a fine line between etiquette, superstition and tradition in theatre, and sometimes the lines blur. For example, one piece of etiquette could just as easily be superstition, which gave way to tradition in the years between the 15th and 19th centuries.