The question of New England's theatre tradition was raised in comments on two posts on my New England Australia blog. In Selling New England to itself, Stu mentioned the Victoria Theatre in Newcastle as worthy of preservation. Greg extended this in a comment on Wednesday Forum: preserving New England's heritage with a reference not just to the Victoria but to other Newcastle theatres and to Newcastle's rich theatrical tradition.
One of the difficulties about New England's broader theatre tradition is that it's so fragmented and localised as to be inaccessible. This comes though when I look at my past posts; a partial list follows. They, too, are very fragmentary.
One of my problems is that most of the posts have been written for other purposes. A second problem lies in working out just what I mean by theatre. Do I include picture theatres and films? What about festivals and events? Or circuses?
For practical purposes, I am including live performance. This excludes film and picture theatres, but does include circuses.
So what can I say after all my reading? Not a lot, really, and that's depressing.
Amateur performances emerged very early. Professional performances were limited to touring companies. These appear to have begun quite early. Dedicated theatres were, I think, limited to Newcastle or the lower Hunter where population densities were greater. Newcastle and the coal areas also had a different general tradition because of the role of the union movement. There is a neglected story here.
Within New England, the two broadest influential centres were Newcastle and Armidale, Newcastle because of its size and specific union influences, Armidale because of its role as an educational centre. The first two attempts at fully professional theatre seem to have been in those two centres. Today they still have the broadest range of theatrical performances.
Not a loo to say, I know! Still, I suppose it's a start.
- 12 August 2006 New England Australia - Writers - a little on playwright Alex Buzo
- 16 August 2006 Death of Alex Buzo
- 24 August 2006 New England, Australia - still more writers a little on playwright Bob Herbert
- 2 September 2006 New England Theatre Centre & Brian D Barnes - Happy 75th birthday, Brian story of the founder of and foundation of New England Theatre Centre
- 6 September 2006 New England Australia - Preliminary thoughts on history of Theatre in New England -trying to clear some initial ground
- 14 August 2007 New England's Universities do well in Carrick Citations - passing reference to UNE's Theatre Studies Department
- 23 December 2007 Life and Circuses -reference to Ashton's circus
- 7 January 2008 More UNE Passings - death of Jo Woolmington - Jo was active in amateur theatre in Armidale
- 24 February 2008 Peter Allen, Armidale and Claire and Eileen Napier - New England born entertainer
- 18 October 2010 Around the New England blogging traps 19 - Armidale sojourn - references to drama at the Armidale School and it's local role
- 19 December 2010 Nicola Woolmington & the Forgotten Australians - Armidale born film maker. Jo Woolmington's daughter
Have a look at Judi's comment on this post. Isn't that a wonderful lot of material?