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Source: Australian Variety Theatre Archive
The Chasers The Chasers i(A107978 works by) (Organisation) assertion
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Sydney-based social group affiliated with the variety industry.

The Chasers was a loose gathering of Australian variety industry practitioners, actors, sporting identities, and associates who came together on a weekly basis to socialise on Sydney Harbour. The principal objectives were to fish, entertain each other, and have a barbeque. Although the group was largely associated with Australian Variety from 1913 onwards, its origins date back to the mid-1880s. An article on the group, published in the magazine in 1915, records, for example, that Harry Rickards had been a member of the 'Order,' and that 'during the past several years all the principal vaudeville, theatrical and sporting men have been made Chasers.' The word 'Chaser' is said to have implied 'Everything that spells a Fine Time and a Good Time, without abuse, indiscretion or anything of a kindred nature' (29 December 1915, n. pag.).

The Chasers' outings occurred each Thursday and typically involved up to around two dozen participants. After meeting at Rushcutter's Bay at 10 am, the group would then head out by yacht or launch to various fishing spots and beaches on Sydney Harbour. The entertainment usually involved variety-style 'turns,' including musical performances (the boats would have a piano on board), humorous stories and jokes, specialty acts, and off-the-cuff sporting activities. While high-profile variety performers from overseas would occasionally be invited to go out on trips when in Sydney, most gatherings involved local practitioners. A 'With the Chasers' column would written by one of the participants and published the following week in Australian Variety. Sometimes, the column would be constructed in the form of poetry, and in a number of instances they served to record the initiation of a new Chaser into the Order.

Regarded as the 'Daddy of Chaserdom,' the longest serving member was Joe Wangenheim (known to one and all as 'Wangy'), who was employed as organiser and cook. Australian Variety records in 1915 that Wangenheim had been connected with the group from its inception more than thirty years ago.

Among the more prominent identities known to have been associated with the Chasers were Martin C. Brennan, Harry Kitching, Harry Rickards, Vince Courtney, Ike Beck, Harry Clay, Fred Bluett, Jack 'Porky' Kearns, Jake Mack, Vaude and Verne, Tom Dawson, and Bill Kelso.

Most Referenced Works


  • Entries connected with this record have been sourced from historical research into Australian-written music theatre and film conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.
Last amended 6 Feb 2014 11:41:50
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