Strutting the Stage by Luke Agati | PB
The first professional actors to settle in Van Diemen’s Land were Samson and Cordelia Cameron, a husband and wife team from Britain, who are credited as the founders of theatrical entertainment in the colony. In September 1833, the couple leased a room at the Freemasons Hotel in Hobart (on a site now occupied by the Welcome Stranger Hotel) and performed a series of “dramatic amusements”. The room was then converted into a theatre large enough to accommodate an audience of 150 of Hobart’s most “respectable citizens” and, having engaged a small company of amateur actors and musicians, they opened the island’s first theatrical season on 24 December 1833. Six months later, in a similar fashion, the Camerons introduced theatre into Launceston at The British Hotel.
Despite an 1834 attempt by Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur, a strict evangelist, to suppress theatre performances, the industry continued to develop (although marked by initial instability and uncertain direction). In those times theatre was not always the dignified event of today. Drunkenness, prostitution and brawls among patrons were just some facets of its colourful beginnings. Strutting the stage is a complete and compelling account of those early years of theatre in Van Diemen’s Land and includes stories and detailed information about the actors, musicians, productions, reviews, theatres, theatre managers, promoters, ticket sellers, audiences and critics. It is a must-have book for all theatre lovers.
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