Amongst my late father’s collection of Shakespearian related publications are two volumes of ‘Shakespeare Survey’ numbers 33 and 35.
These were annual publications, published by Cambridge University Press, which I believe started in the late 1940’s and are probably still being published each year and contain studies and essays on Shakespeare works by eminent scholars.
Numbers 33 and 35 were published in 1980 and 1982 respectively. Although all the contents of these is fascinating, Volume 35 has an article ‘Shakespeare on the Melbourne Stage 1843-1961’.
This contribution covers many pages, but it starts with the following account which I found fascinating.
Barely ten years after John Batman, one of the first settlers in Victoria, had made a treaty with the aborigines which the central government a few years later decided to ignore, Othello was played in Melbourne.
It was the first Shakespearean play to be staged in the colony, on 4 September 1843, under the management of Conrad Knowles, in a wooden shed in Bourke Street which seated 500 and was called the Pavillion.
The article continues:
It was astonishing that Shakespeare was produced at all, for instead of the ‘fashionable’ house that The Port Phillip Gazette anticipated, Knowles had to contend with wild unruly audiences.
This was the Yahoo period of Australian stage history when barbarism reigned triumphant. When he played Shylock in September ‘certain parties’ were refused admission to the dress circle.
These volumes also contain some photographs of stage plays including David Suchet as Shylock and Archilles (Troilus and Cressida) and Donald Sinden as Lear, and Patrick Stewart as Titus.
Footnote: I (Satima, your trusty blog mistress) chased up this publication’s history. Apparently it started in 1948, and the 2017 edition is now available. You can see for yourselves at https://www.cambridge.org/core/what-we-publish/collections/shakespeare-survey
Doesn’t this sound fascinating? I hope Peter will bring the magazines along to a club meeting for a ‘show and tell’!