Ten scene books providing a unique visual record of Australia’s early theatre history, have been digitised and made available online for all to download, study and enjoy.
Dominating the performing arts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the firm founded by James Cassius Williamson (1845–1913) controlled a chain of theatres throughout Australia and New Zealand and owned a number of radio stations and film studios. For a time JC Williamson Ltd was the largest production company in the world, producing plays, operas and other entertainments, and continued to be the major production company in Australia until the mid 1970s.
In June 2015, THA was awarded a PROV History Grant for the digitisation of ten scene books from the JC Williamson Ltd collection held by Scenic Studios, Preston. The ten newly digitised scene books provide a rare account of over 440 theatrical productions staged in Australia between the 1890s and 1930s. Originally compiled by the scenic artists, the scene books include thousands of photographs of sets, backdrops, props, lighting rigs, plans and elevations, documenting everything required for the stage presentations. Many of the images are of original designs by renowned Australian scenic artists, while others are photographs or sketches from the overseas companies which first presented the works.
The collection will be launched by theatre historian Frank Van Straten AM, Paul Kathner and Ross Turner, who will speak about the importance of the collection for theatre researchers and scenic designers as well as students, lecturers and teachers of theatre studies.
All are welcome. Entry is free, however bookings are required.
Theatre Heritage Australia in association with Arts Centre Melbourne presents
Digitising JC Williamson Ltd Scene Books c1890s–1930s
LAUNCH EVENT: 3pm, Saturday 26 May 2018
The Channel, Arts Centre Melbourne**
Entry is FREE! but bookings are required
Box Office 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Telephone 1300 182 183 (Mon-Sat 9am–8:30pm)
** The Channel is located on the River Terrace between St Kilda Road an Southgate (next to Fatto Restaurant)
Theatre Heritage Australia gratefully acknowledges the support of the
Victorian Government and Public Record Office Victoria for making this project possible