Louis Nowra: The Playwright Born To Shock

MARTIN PORTUS profiles LOUIS NOWRA,  the remarkable talent behind the Australian classic Cosi and much more.

A writing career seemed unlikely for young Louis Nowra. Raised in a Housing Commission paddock suburb north of Melbourne without any sewerage, ignored by his truck driving Dad, belittled by his unhappy Mum, little Louis couldn’t really read until he was 17. 

He was scalped in a brutal boyhood accident which for four years left him unable to properly talk, think or write, dismissed by his teachers as an imbecile.

Lola Montez – With a Twist of Lemon.

Legendary Australian composer Peter Stannard died in March 2018, just months before a star-studded concert revival of Lola Montez, the musical he penned sixty years ago, is staged at Sydney’s Riverside Theatre. In his last interview Peter described some of his adventures in music to *David Spicer.

Tell me about your early years of training.

Theatres on Fire – The Victorian Curse.

Jenny Fewster from Ausstage reports.

In late 19th century Australia, theatre fires had become so common that one of the most popular medicines of the time was advertised under the somewhat misleading headline, “A Theatre on Fire”. 

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.