Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has undertaken extensive research into the work of his great great grandfather and Australian's most prolific colonial theatre architect George R. Johnson (1840-1898). He has written entries for the Australian Dictionary of Biography and the Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture.  Peter operates an architectural practice in St Kilda and acts as a valuer of architectural documents for the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

Monday, 07 January 2013


Content will be provided to this section very soon.


In the meantime you can learn about Melbourne's lost theatres from our old archived VTT web site.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Benefits of Membership

Join Theatre Heritage Australia and...

Be part of the Australian theatre community

  • learn more about the history of Australian theatre, its people and its buildings
  • participate in THA theatre tours & events
  • develop your professional and social network


Membership gives you:

  • access to the members' area of the web site
  • access to the latest articles appearing in On Stage
  • ability to add your comments to these articles
  • ability to access and download text searchable back issues of On Stage magazine
  • a discount on event fees

Note: the join form is currently unavailable until we sort a few things out. In the meantime please consider joining the email list.

Monday, 07 January 2013



We plan to develop this section in the future to give writers of Australian theatre history the opportunity to publish their work and receive a commission.

We also hope to offer out-of-copyright books and other articles on theatre history. However we need to organise a PayPal facility first and this takes time.

Coming in late 2013. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 06 January 2013

Purpose & Rules

Much of Australia's important theatre history is in danger of being forgotten. The very theatres themselves, which gave us the framework for this panorama of talent, are endangered. THA has been formed to fight for the preservation of both the history and the fabric of our ongoing theatre heritage.



The purpose of THA is to promote and encourage the understanding of Australia’s rich performing arts history.

We do this by:

  • undertaking research into Australia’s performing arts history
  • digitising historic documents, including moving images and audio relating to the performing arts
  • promoting and publishing this and other related information to enhance public knowledge
  • encouraging the identification, documentation and preservation of items relating to Australia’s performing arts history
  • encouraging the preservation of Australia’s performance spaces.



The organisation was founded by Evan Hercules in 1995 and originally called the Victoria Theatres Trust (VTT). To better reflect our national focus, at the 2008 AGM the VTT membership decided to incorporate and to change the name of the organisation to Theatre Heritage Australia Inc. (THA).



We are bound by a set of rules lodged with Consumer Affairs Victoria.
You can download a full set of our rules here.



Theatre Heritage Australia adheres to ethical fundraising practices. You can view our Fundraising Policies and Procedures below:

Fundraising Policy (pdf file, 45KB)

Ethical Fundraising Policy (pdf file, 48KB)



Saturday, 22 December 2012


Without the tireless efforts of our volunteers this organisation could not possibly function. 
Therefore we would like to acknowledge and thank the following people for their considerable input:

President Simon Piening
Vice President Diana Burleigh
Secretary Elisabeth Kumm
Treasurer (vacant)
EVENTS Diana Burleigh (Chair), Judy Leech, Robert Ray
Bookings & Event Flyers Judy Leech
Images with grateful assistance of the SLV Pictures Collection team
FUNDRAISING Sue-Anne Wallace (chair), Peter Johnson, Simon Piening
Accountant (vacant)
MEMBERSHIP (to be announced)
ORAL HISTORY Jasna Novakovic (chair), Robert Morisson, Cheryl Threadgold, Diana Burleigh
PUBLICATIONS Elisabeth Kumm (chair), Judy Leech, Robert Morisson, Cheryl Threadgold
Newsletter Editor Elisabeth Kumm
Layout Simon Piening
SPECIAL PROJECTS Judy Leech (chair), Peter Johnson, Elisabeth Kumm, Robert Morisson, Simon Piening, Jasna Novakovic, Jenny Fewster
WEB SITE & IT Simon Piening (chair), Peter Johnson
Layout & Content Simon Piening
Flickr Peter Johnson
Sunday, 16 December 2012

Contact Details

General Enquiries:  

29 Northumberland Street, Collingwood, 3066  e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or better still, contact the person concerned below:


Simon Piening   e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Vice President

Diana Burleigh  e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Elisabeth Kumm   e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Howard Cordner e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Officeholders and committee members are elected by the membership every year at our AGM in March. If you would like to nominate for the committee or act as an officeholder please complete this nomination form.

A proxy form for use at annual, general and special meetings can be downloaded using this link.

Monday, 24 December 2012


The Committee is elected by the membership every year at our AGM in March. If you would like to join or learn more about what we do, please contact us or simply complete a nomination form and send it to us.

Diana Burleigh

Diana Burleigh

Diana is a well-known actor, director, reviewer and radio presenter. She is particularly recognised for her work directing Gilbert & Sullivan operas. Forthcoming and recent productions include Iolanthe (2017) and Pirates of Penzance (2013) for G&SOV, Utopia Limited (2016) and Yeomen of the Guard (2013) for Savoynet at the G & S Festival, Harrogate.

Jenny Fewster

Jenny Fewster

Jenny Fewster began working on performing arts databases in the early 90’s in her role as Research Assistant at the Performing Arts Collection of South Australia. She joined AusStage, the Australian national online resource for live performance research, when the project began in 2000 and was appointed Project Manager in 2003. During her time with AusStage the project has been successful in gaining over $4 million (AUD) in funding from the Australian Research Council, Australian National Data Service, National eResearch Architecture Taskforce, eResearch South Australia and the Australian Access Federation. Jenny is active in nurturing relationships between university researchers and cultural collections. She is currently Deputy Chair of the Performing Arts Heritage Network of the Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMAGA) and has served on that Committee for the last twelve years. In 2019 Jenny was honoured to be granted life membership of the The Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies (ADSA).

Peter Johnson FRAIA RIBA

Peter Johnson FRAIA RIBA

Peter was chairman of the ALSO Foundation’s Special Events Committee that produced the legendary Red Raw and Winterdaze warehouse dance parties from 1992 until 2000. Acting as honorary architect in 1995, he was responsible for the conversion of Shed 14 at Docklands into a permanent performance venue. He has undertaken extensive research into the work of his great great grandfather and Australian’s most prolific colonial theatre architect George R. Johnson (1840-1898). Peter is a heritage consultant and valuer of architectural documents for the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. He also co-ordinates a theatre buildings study group at the SLV and lectures on the topic at the University of Melbourne. Peter has been a THA committe member since 2006 and was its president from 2008 to 2015.

Elisabeth Kumm

Elisabeth Kumm

Elisabeth is a founding member of the Victoria Theatres Trust. Her series Pets of the Public was a regular feature of On Stage from 1999 to 2005, looking at “forgotten” nineteenth century performers. She continues to contribute articles for the THA website, and from 2018 has been editor of the THA Newsletter. As a theatrical historian and biographer she assisted Viola Tait with her book on pantomime – Dames, Principal Boys…and All That (published by Macmillan in 2001) and also worked with her on her memoirs I Have a Song to Sing (published by THA in 2018). Elisabeth has also undertaken research for the Riley/Hailes Scrapbook and JCW Scene Books projects, and is looking forward to working on the Falk Studio album project in 2019. She currently also holds the post of Secretary for THA.

Judy Leech

Judy Leech

Employed as a graphic designer for almost 23 years at the ABC's studios at Ripponlea, Judy worked on dramas, light entertainment, natural history, children's programs and productions in collaboration with the Australian Ballet and Dance Theatre Australia. From television she segued into set, costume and props design for a small professional ballet company – the Rex Reid Dancers – which toured Australia with "ballet pantomimes" for schools, appearing in most major cities and towns. Following the demise of the company and the death of its director, Judy became involved in amateur musical theatre, designing and painting sets, devising props, etc. She remains passionately interested in theatre and dance design, performance and history. In addition, over the years there have been several forays into children's book illustration, with Penguin, MacMillan and Longman. Judy joined the committee in 2012 and has made many contributions to the THA website and newsletter and is finding herself more and more involved in the organization's activities..

Rob Morrison

Rob Morrison

With a background in science and biophysics, Rob is equally at home in the Performing Arts having performed in over 70 stage productions since 1975, including plays, revues and musicals for a number of amateur theatre companies based in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. As a broadcaster, Rob has been heard on Melbourne community radio 96.5 Inner FM since 1992 contributing to the Local Theatre programme and as the host of the weekly light-music Kaleidoscope and Musical Theatre Melodies programmes. A selection of Rob’s past interviews from the latter with noted theatre composers and/or lyricists, Leslie Bricusse, Frank Wildhorn and Sheldon Harnick, plus musical theatre historian and author, Miles Kreuger can be accessed on the THA website under Digital Collections – audio.

Jasna Novaković

Jasna Novaković

Jasna Novaković is an award winning arts journalist, with particular interest in investigative journalism, as the documentary ‘Yugoslav Theatre Today’, with which she represented Radio Yugoslavia on Radio Cyprus, demonstrates. In parallel, Jasna wrote theatre reviews for RY and feature articles for print media, including the specialized theatre gazette Ludus. After migrating to Australia, Jasna completed her MA in Communications (1996) and her PhD Thesis on the dialectic of myth and reality in Dorothy Hewett’s plays (2006). The greater part of her teaching experience at Monash and Curtin Universities is, however, in the areas of journalism and new media. Jasna’s articles, reviews and translations are published in Overland, Southerly, Australasian Drama Studies, the Australian Studies journal, Hecate’s AWBR and in Mostovi (Engl. Bridges), among others. Brian Friel’s Translations played in Jasna’s translation at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre from 2009 to 2011.

Simon Piening

Simon Piening

Simon is the Director of Australian Stage Online, an online media outlet for the performing arts in Australia, which he founded in 2005. He completed a BA in Performing Arts in 1991 and has worked extensively as an actor and director. He completed post graduate studies in Arts Management at the VCA/University of Melbourne, and spent a number of years working as assistant manager at an outer metropolitan performing arts venue. He holds a Master of Communications and is currently completing a PhD in audience development. He joined the THA committee in 2016.

Robert Ray

Robert Ray

Trained initially as a dancer, Robert has held teaching positions both in Australia and New York, created courses and programs for the Australian Ballet School, the University of Melbourne and New York's Joffrey Ballet School. Robert was formerly Postgraduate Diploma Course Director and Lecturer in Dance at the Victorian College of Arts, and continues to be actively involved in the direction of and choreography for Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas.

Dr Cheryl Threadgold OAM

Dr Cheryl Threadgold OAM

Cheryl's self-published book In the Name of Theatre: the history, culture and voices of amateur theatre in Victoria, based on her award-winning PhD thesis with Swinburne University of Technology, received the 2020 Collaborative Victorian Community History Award.

Honorary theatre writer/review coordinator for the Melbourne Observer newspaper since 2005, for over six years she presented the local theatre report on 3AW. Convenor of the Bayside U3A Writers Group, Cheryl directs radio plays for broadcast on 88.3 Southern FM. She has written short plays and full-length productions including the award-winning The Jewel by the Sea at historic Black Rock House. Cheryl worked behind the scenes in ABC Television for 29 years, and is currently Vice President of the ABC Reunion Club.

Sue-Anne Wallace AM

Sue-Anne Wallace AM

Sue-Anne is an art historian whose doctoral research considered the liturgical theatres of the rock-cut churches in Cappadocia, Turkey. She has extensive experience in arts development and museums, with the Australia Council, National Gallery of Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney and Queensland University of Technology Cultural Precinct. In the latter position, she was also the director of the Gardens Theatre Brisbane. She is currently researching late nineteenth and early twentieth century theatre in Australia with a focus on renowned Scottish actor Walter Bentley who toured in UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand from 1873, settling in Australia in 1909. Memorabilia of Walter Bentley’s is housed in the State Library of NSW and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Sydney.


 Officeholders and committee members are elected by the membership every year at our AGM in March. If you would like to nominate for the committee or act as an officeholder please complete this nomination form.

A proxy form for use at annual, general and special meetings can be downloaded using this link.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Past issues

 This document lists all the past issues that were produced in print from 1999-2012. Click in the 'file' column to download. Once downloaded these files are text searchable individually.

Also the Prahran Mechanics Institute has kindly indexed this series. To do a global search, go to advanced search in their catalogue. Add 'On Stage' in the Title field and then in the Other field add your search term. You will then be able to search across all issues.



Volume   Season  FileVolume   Season  File
1 Summer 1999-1        8 Summer  2007-1
Autumn 2000-2 Autumn  2007-2
Winter 2000-3 Winter  2007-3
Spring 2000-4 Spring  2007-4
2 Summer 2001-1  9 Summer  2008-1
Autumn 2001-2 Autumn  2008-2
Winter 2001-3 Winter  2008-3
Spring 2001-4 Spring  2008-4
3 Summer 2002-1 10  Summer  2009-1
Autumn 2002-2 Autumn  2009-2
Winter 2002-3 Winter  2009-3
Spring 2002-4 Spring  2009-4
 4 Summer  2003-1 11  Summer  2010-1
Autumn  2003-2 Autumn  2010-2
Winter  2003-3 Winter  2010-3
Spring  2003-4 Spring  2010-4
 5 Summer  2004-1 12  Summer  2011-1


Autumn  2011-2
Winter  2004-3 Winter  2011-3
Spring  2004-4 Spring 


Summer  2005-1 13  Summer  2012-1
Autumn  2005-2 Autumn  2012-2
Winter  2005-3 Winter  2012-3
Spring  2005-4 Spring  2012-4 
7 Summer  2006-1
Autumn  2006-2
Winter 2006-3
Spring 2006-4
Friday, 01 March 2013



reprinted from the Argus, Monday 22 April 1889, p.6

(The theatre was destroyed by fire on the evening of 22 April, 1889)

The Bijou Theatre was crowded in every part on Saturday night to welcome the return of Mr. Brough and Mr. Boucicault with their comedy company. The piece chosen for the occasion was Burnand's comedy "Betsy," which was first introduced to the Melbourne public by the late Mr. F. Marshall, when he assumed the management of the old Princess's Theatre. His reproduction was exceedingly well received and the appearance of each and every member of the company was greeted with hearty applause, special receptions being accorded to Mr and Mrs. Brough, Mr. Boucicault, and Mr. Titheradge.

Friday, 01 March 2013

Bijou Theatre Fire


- reprinted form the Argus 24.04.1889, p.5.


The main topic of conversation yesterday was the burning or the Bijou Theatre, and all day long crowds visited the scene of the disaster. Barriers were erected in Little Collins street on either side of the theatre, the condition of the south gable wall being considered too dangerous to allow any traffic to pass.


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