Theatre heritage australia held its first Sydney event in July 2023, in partnership with the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation in Neutral Bay, which has both a performing arts collection and a library housing archives and manuscripts including the Dennis Wolanski Library Books. This was the first time we had partnered with the Foundation, which was founded almost forty years ago. THA has recently donated objects to the Foundation’s collection, including the name plate of George Titheradge, co-founder in 1910 of the Actors Association of Australasia. We hope this is the start of a long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnership, promoting both the work of the Foundation and of THA.

On 16 July theatre historian Dr Margaret Leask engaged an eager audience with her personal story entitled ‘You Never Know Where Stories Will Take You: the joys of research, discovery, connections and insight, and the constant question of ‘why are there never enough hours in the day?’! Dr Simon Piening opened the afternoon session, providing an overview of THA’s mission and objective for the audience, many of whom were connected with the Foundation.

Dr Leask’s family was intimately connected with early twentieth-century theatre in Sydney. Her great grandfather was the map publisher HEC Robinson, who was a long-time friend of Nellie Stewart. Her doctoral research focussed on Lena Ashwell, published as Lena Ashwell: actress, patriot, patriot (University of Hertfordshire Press/Society for Theatre Research, 2012), which is an engaging story of the many facets of Lena Ashwell’s career. Dr Leask brought the same magical revelations to her talk in Sydney, weaving connections from her family, from actors and actresses to other theatre historians and practitioners.
An audience of around 40 people posed question after question until it was finally time to go home. We thank Dr Leask for her generous engagement with the audience, and especially to S,B&W for welcoming THA to their premises, particularly the volunteers who served scones, jam and cream on the cold winter’s day.