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'Australasian Drama Studies was first published in October 1982, so this year, 2012, it celebrates its thirtieth birthday with this, its sixtieth issue. To celebrate this milestone, we decided to ask some Australasian theatre scholars - a couple of old hands and mid-career scholars and an early career researcher - to reflect on trends in theatre and performance in Australasia over the lifetime of the journal, developments in the reception of and scholarship about those trends, and the ways in which the journal has reflected them. This article begins with founding co-editor Richard Fotheringham's personal reminiscence of co-editing the journal in earlier days. It is followed by a conversation among four other scholars, contributors and readers with general editor, Geoffrey Milne.
Contributors refer several times to 'ADSA'; this is the acronym of the principal learned society for Australasian scholars of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. ADSA was begun in 1977 as the Australasian Drama Studies Association but - increasingly reflecting changes in the breadth of interests of its membership - the full name of the association was changed several years ago to the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies. ADSA remains a generous and loyal sponsor of this journal and we are extremely grateful for its support and proud of our ongoing association with it.' Richard Fotheringham, Rachel Forgasz, Laura Ginters, Mary Ann Hunter, Lisa Warrington and Geoffrey Milne.
'Character doubling has a contested provenance in theatre studies. On the one hand, it has been identified as a way to subvert naturalisation of socialised roles, foregrounding the performativity that scholars such as Judith Butler have identified as being inherent in everyday identity practices. When actors cross ethnic, class, gender, age or other boundaries to achieve doubled or multiple characterisation within a single performance, they can effectively expose and problematise those boundaries' constructedness. Commenting on Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, for example, Bill Naismith suggests that when doubling is used, it "questions the roles that have been imposed on women, past and present. The doubling of parts by an actor can positively undermine the fixedness of roles"' Similarly, discussing postcolonial theatre, Sue-Ellen Case suggests that doubling can "foreground the fabricated roles ... colonialism creates, distancing identity from biology".' Elspeth Tilley.
'In 2007, through the generosity of the Canadian Government, the National Library of Australia acquired a Sydney Theatre playbill dated 30 July 1796. It is the earliest playbill to have been located from that theatre, though a playbill for Saturday 23 July 1796 was reproduced in several English newspapers in 1797 and David Collins has left us with an account of the opening production on Saturday 16 January 1796, with a partial list of the actors involved, and a brief note on a charity benefit for a soldier's widow, Catherine Eades, on Thursday 4 February 1796. The new playbill has been discussed in an excellent article by Elaine Hoag, who first discovered it. Her article contains valuable observations on the subject matter of the bill but is primarily concerned with a bibliographical description of it and an account of its provenance. The present article deals exclusively with the bill's subject matter, and is arranged in the order in which the matter arises from the playbill. Robert Jordan.
'Examining Australian colonial re-readings of Shakespearean texts outside the formal realm of theatre productions offers a fascinating insight into the multiplicity of Victorian revisions and responses to Shakespeare as a literary form throughout the 1850s and 1860s. The growth of dramatic readings in non-purpose-built venues during the period represents an alteration of form significantly affecting colonial culture and the spaces and conditions in which alterations of form took place. Aside from purpose-built venues, other public spaces used for dramatic readings of Shakespearean texts included annexed rooms built on to, or adjacent to, public houses and saloons, town halls, court houses, showground buildings, schools, Masonic halls, and occasionally - albeit rarely - churches. This article has two aims: to explore the variety of the non-purpose-built social spaces in which re-readings of Shakespearean texts occurred during the mid-nineteenth century; and to examine the social and cultural shifts in attitudes to both the space, and Shakespearean texts, which such re-readings motivated.' Nicole Anae.
'In this article, I examine the partial, "unearthed" remains of 'the first fully fledged Australian pantomime', "The Bunyip, Or, The Enchantment of Fairy Princess Wattle Blossom", produced by Sir Benjamin Fuller and his brother John; I trace its production history and examine its significance as a register of national identity between 1916 and 1925 - a period from the zenith of Australia's fighting in World War I to repatriation of the troops and peacetime. This investigation provides a case study in which to explore the significance of early twentieth-century Australian pantomime as more than a site for fairytale plot and spectacle.' Martina Lipton.
'On 23 February 1981, an ensemble of recent graduates from the Victorian College of the Arts Drama School - Caz Howard, Peter Sommerfeld, Susie Fraser, Hannie Rayson and Peter Finlay - incorporated themselves as the "Eastern Suburbs Community Theatre Company Limited", but the group was more colloquially known as "TheatreWorks" and was re-incorporated as such in February 1986, after consolidating its move to the Acland Street Parish Hall in St Kilda.' Paul Davies.
'This article describes the history of the Edgley family business in relation to its circus productions and the contribution of key female family members. Michael Edgley International (Edgley's) is an Australian entertainment company that toured productions to large audiences throughout Australasia, Asia, South Africa and the USA. It toured up to six theatre, dance and other live entertainments annually for over fifty years, which attests to the company's success as a business. The company became known in Australia for its regular Moscow Circus productions after 1965. Edgley's links to circus, however, provide an additional perspective on a family business - even on performance - because family companies have been central to the historical development of Australian circus.' Rosemary Farrell and Peta Tait.
'At 2.15 a.m. on 7 February 1984, fire broke out in the Playbox Theatre on Exhibition Street in Melbourne, tearing through the downstairs theatre and damaging the smaller upstairs theatre and offices. That night there had been reports from the theatre's security staff of having chased away "a youth from the back of the building, soon before the fire began". The next day, Carrillo Gantner sifted through the wreckage of the building, estimated at the time to be around $300,000 worth of damages, and took interviews from the press to show that the company's spirits were still high. They were, after all, riding the crest of a particularly successful wave at the time. Harry Kippax had, in the Sydney Morning Herald, called them a company of "national importance" and they were playing in Melbourne in the downstairs theatre with "The Search for Andy Cadabra" and upstairs with "The Execution of Steele Rudd"; and on tour in Sydney with the Athol Fugard play Master Harold and the Boys at the Seymour Centre and Insignificance in the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House, a production presented by the Sydney Theatre Company (STC).' Robert Reid.