Grandpa Pencil's
Australian Colonial
Intelligence

10

The first theatrical performance in the colony of New South Wales

Drawn from accounts of Watkin Tench's, A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay and a Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson and David Collins in his Account of the English Colony in New South Wales

The colony of New South Wales had it's first theatrical performance on June, 4, 1789 to celebrate the birthday of King George the third.

Eleven convicts performed George Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer.

Watkin Tench wrote:
'That every opportunity of escape from the dreariness and dejection of our situation should be eagerly embraced, will not be wondered at.

The exhilarating effect of a splendid theatre is well known and I am not ashamed to confess, that the proper distribution of three or four yards of stained paper, and a dozen farthing candles stuck around the mud walls of a convict hut, failed not to diffuse general complacency on the countenances of sixty persons, of various descriptions, who were assembled to applaud the representation.

Some of the actors acquitted themselves with great spirit and received the praises of the audience.

A prologue and an epilogue, written by one of the performers, were also spoken on the occasion which, although not worth inserting here, contained some tolerable allusions to the situations of the parties and the novelty of a stage representation in New South Wales.'

David Collins recorded in his Account of the English Colony of New South Wales that, 'The actors possessed no higher aim than humbly to excite a smile and their efforts to please were not unattended with applause.'




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