Puppet People

Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s (QPAC’s) latest free exhibition Puppet People: A Snapshot of Australian Puppetry is on view in the Centre’s Tony Gould Gallery untilthe end of January 2018. Beth Keehn reports.

When the Vice Squad Censored Theatre

It was only fifty years ago that Police would raid theatres to arrest and charge actors with obscenity. Jenny Fewster, the Project Manager for AusStage, recounts a time when ending up in jail was a performance risk.

When Cowboys and Indians Ran Wild on Australian Stages

In the late Nineteenth Century the Wild West proved a sensation for Australian and New Zealand theatre audiences. In those days respect for indigenous people and animal rights were not a consideration. Jenny Fewster from AusStage reports.

On the 8th December 1890, the Britannia docked in Melbourne. On board was an American named Doc Carver accompanied by his wife. Travelling with him, although in steerage rather than cabins, were several Native Americans and Mexican Vaqueros.

Appeal of the Bells - The Making of a Dynasty

John Bell’s direction of Bell Shakespeare’s The Tempest in 2015 is a fitting farewell to just one part of his life, and the symbolism of a man who has created magic, abandoning his island for a new life in retirement is lost on no-one. Coral Drouyn looks at the extraordinary Bell dynasty.

Theatrical Secrets of the Colosseum

On a recent trip to Rome’s Colosseum, Michael Sutton discovered how this world famous icon functioned as a theatre, thanks to a team of German archaeologists. Underground halls were the wings where animals, scenery, performers and Gladiators stood by, and vertical shafts allowed the scenery and talent to rise instantly into the arena.

The Convict Theatres of Early Australia 1788-1840

The colourful and surprising history of those who played in Australia’s convict theatres is now published as an Ebook by Currency House. Martin Portus reports that as well as the odd riot and rude thespians there were quality performances and lots of money to be made.

Robert Jordan combed through British and colonial newspapers, official and private correspondence, court records, statistics and logbooks to uncover compelling stories about our first theatrical steps as a penal colony. 

Oh Johnny ... or should we say, Jill?

The age-old tradition of Stage Door Johnnies is alive and well in Melbourne (albeit in slightly updated form) for the star of Legally Blonde. Coral Drouyn explains.

Way back in the 1880’s, when “Musical Comedies” and “Music Hall” shows became the great entertainment for the masses, one entrepreneur, George Edwardes (pictured below), changed the face of theatre for all time.

How Mrs J C Williamson Struck Oil

When Maggie Moore (Mrs J C Williamson) left her marriage for a man fifteen years her junior, she took the theatrical couple’s international hit with her. Leann Richards reports.

In 1894 theatre impresario J C Williamson was a very unhappy man. His estranged wife, the popular Maggie Moore, was touring Australia with the melodrama Struck Oil. Williamson considered the play his property and resented his former wife profiting from it. In addition, she had cast her lover in the role Williamson had made famous.

Lonely Death for Queen of the Stage.

In 1873, outside the Melbourne Theatre Royal, a fair young girl, with a face surrounded by reddish gold hair, approached manager Mr Harwood.  In a sweet voice, tinged with a slight Irish brogue she asked, ‘Please sir, can I be an actress?’

The young girl was Myra Kemble. In three decades she reached the heights of colonial fame and the lows of a lonely death.

Theatrical Child Labour Scandal

Just over a century ago a scandal involving children in a theatre troupe made headlines across Australia. Children subject to abuse were left stranded on an overseas tour. Leann Richards reports.

In the mid 19th Century, child labour was common. Children were considered the property of their parents and governments were reluctant to interfere in the privacy of the home.