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Books

Tivoli By Frank Van Straten. Lothian, Melbourne,2003.

A recently released picture size book which thoroughly details the long history of the Tivoli Theatres in Sydney and Melbourne. Contains detailed biographies of prominent performers, including several pictures. The first and best coverage of the theatre's whole history by one of Australia's foremost historians.

The Convict Theatres of early Australia 1788-1840. By Robert Jordon. Currency Press Sydney, 2002.

An in depth look at the early years of Australian theatre. Fascinating reading after the academic bits are out of the way. Jordon explodes the myths that surround the Siddaway theatre in Sydney and his attempts to locate it, although highly speculative are intriguing. Valuable for genealogists as it contains as an appendix, details about the colony's first actors.

The Australian Theatre  by Paul McGuire with Betty Arnott and Frances Margaret McGuire, Oxford University Press 1948.

An older book which contains a good general history of the Australian theatre. Out of print but available at libraries. A good introduction to the subject. Naturally it does not include Jordon's new discoveries about the early Sydney theatres. It is an easy and entertaining read.

From Minstrel Show to Vaudeville; The Australian Popular Stage 1788-1914 By Richard Waterhouse. NSW University Press 1990

An excellent book regarding the early years of the Australian theatre. Concentrates on the influence of American and English theatrical traditions on the Australian scene with the emphasis on the Minstrel companies. It contains unique research into the period and provides a good link between the early years as detailed by Jordon with the vaudeville era. I'm not sure if it's still in print. I found a copy at the library. Useful for genealogists as it contains the names of several early minstrel performers.

The story of the Theatre Royal By Ian Bevan. Currency Press Sydney 1993

Out of print , beautifully presented and  expensive. It is a great in depth look at the Theatre Royal. It's written in a very readable style and contains some fascinating anecdotes about the theatre. Bevan is an experienced writer on the subject and this is certainly worth a look. It's available at libraries and second hand. I perused it at the State Library in Sydney.

A pictorial history of Sydney's Prince Edward Theatre beautiful by Barry Sharp. Published by Barry Sharp, Strawberry Hills NSW 1984.

If you are interested in early cinemas then this is a great book. It has wonderful colour photos of the theatre and gives brief details of it's history and the people behind it. I found this one at Fisher library at the University of Sydney.

Magical Nights at the Theatre by Charles Waller ed By Gerald Taylor. self published

Magical nights contains details of performances witnessed by Melbourne Magician Charles Waller. It contains details of performances by artists such as Houdini, Cinquevelli, and Chung ling Soo. If you are interested in first person accounts about vaudeville performances in Australia, then this volume contains some wonderful details. Available at libraries.

Theatre Buildings in Australia to 1905 By Ross Thorne Sydney 1970.

Ross Thorne is an architect and these volumes reflect that. They emphasise the architectural features of early Australian theatres. However, Thorne does discuss the historical context of the constructions and there are some valuable nuggets of information for the researcher. Available at Sydney University library.

Concise Companion to Theatre in Australia ed by Philip Parsons With Victoria Chance, Currency Press, Sydney, 1997.

The complete reference book. It is an encyclopaedic reference to Australian Theatre. It also comes in a fuller version, but I find the concise edition easier to carry around.

The Silent Showman By Michael and Joan Tallis, Wakefield Press, Kent Town South Australia, 1999.

An excellent book about George Tallis who was associated with JC Williamson Ltd for decades. He was a director of the company. A worthwhile read for anybody interested in Williamson history. Available through the website

THE POLLARDS A family and its child and adult opera companies in New
Zealand and Australia 1880-1910.
by Peter Downes  Steele Roberts Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand, 2002.


 Formed in Tasmania in 1880 as a troupe of talented children, for 30 years Pollard opera companies brought entertainment to thousands of theatregoers in cities and small settlements alike. Acclaimed productions of the latest operettas and musical comedies were continuously toured throughout Australia and New Zealand ... and beyond. The youngsters reached the top of their profession, but only after exhausting work, harsh opposition and much anguish. Brushes with cholera and smallpox mix with accusations of kidnapping and suicide; disastrous fires destroy scenery, costumes and music; bankruptcy looms; tumultuous storms at sea threaten to shorten their lives. Yet, through it all, the Pollards emerge unscathed, to act and sing joyously for their adoring public.
The allure of child actors in adult roles at that time seemed endless, but social disapproval eventually brought about their demise. But of the many teams of talented youngsters traversing the world at the end of the 19th century, the Pollard companies appear to have been the most enterprising and enduring of them all.

Available through the website

 

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