Quiz about Australian Theatre  First Fleet to Bicentenary
Quiz about Australian Theatre  First Fleet to Bicentenary

Australian Theatre - First Fleet to Bicentenary Quiz


This quiz takes a broad look at the first 200 years of Australian Theatre after white settlement in 1788. Find out what's happened on stage down under! A little knowledge of famous plays and world history may be an advantage :-)

A multiple-choice quiz by MikeMaster99. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
MikeMaster99
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
363,279
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
1895
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 58 (10/10), Guest 1 (9/10), malclave (10/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. In 1789, only a year after the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay, the play 'The Recruiting Officer' was performed in the small settlement of Sydney. To honour which monarch's birthday was this first theatrical event staged on Australian soil? (Hint: the USA had different reasons to remember this man!) Hint

Napoleon Bonaparte
King George III
King Louis XVI
King Charles II

2. During the late 1820s and early 1830s, both Sydney and Adelaide had theatres open with the same name. What was this name, reflecting Australia's close links with 'the Mother Country'? Hint

King's Court
Theatre Royal
Prince Regent Palace
Queen Victoria's Amusement Hall

3. Theatre flourished in Australia during the 1850s. What event, also occurring in the USA around the same time, led to a great increase in Australia's population and a massive demand for theatrical entertainment? Hint

The Crimean war
Development of railroads
Abolition of slavery
The gold rush

4. After moving to Melbourne, this Pennsylvania-born actor and entrepreneur made a rapid fortune from the play 'Struck Oil' in 1874 and astutely bought the Australian rights to the entire Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire. Who was this man whose name was still synonymous with Australian theatre productions over 100 years later? Hint

J.C. Penney
J.C. Williamson
A.D. Hope
A.D. Butler

5. Which highly controversial play of the late nineteenth century, written by Henrik Ibsen ten years earlier, made its Australian debut in the Princess Theatre, Melbourne in 1889? The play ends with Nora leaving her husband and children in attempt to to discover who she really was. Hint

A Doll's House
The Changeling
Peer Gynt
The Power of Darkness

6. Arguably the most well-known actress in the world at that time, who played her famous role from 'La Dame aux Camélias' ('The Lady of the Camellias') to ecstatic and sold out audiences in Sydney in 1891? Hint

Ellen Terry
Sarah Bernhardt
Marguerite Bellanger
Nell Gwyn

7. Australian Federation in 1901 ushered in a new era of quintessentially Australian plays. One of the most famous emanated from a series of short sketches by Steele Rudd, published in 'The Bulletin' magazine in the late 1890s. What was the name of this play, which reflected the often comedic trials of Dad and Dave as they tried to come to terms with the new property they'd acquired under the Land Settlement Act? Hint

The Back of Bourke
It's our place
On Our Selection
Crikey, it's hot out here

8. Considered by many scholars as the most historically significant play in Australian theatre history, Ray Lawler wrote this play set in Melbourne in 1953. What is the name of this masterpiece that describes the annual reunion of sugarcane cutters 'Roo' Webber and 'Barney' Ibbot and explores the tensions arising from changing times and circumstances? Hint

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll
When We Were Young
Sweet Summer Wine
The Sun Sets over Carlton

9. Australia has produced many wonderful playwrights, whose works can be seen on various stages almost every day of each year. Which of these talented people wrote plays including 'The Removalists' and 'Don's Party' (both from 1971), 'The Club' (1977) and 'Emerald City' (1987) along with over thirty others up until the end of 2012? Hint

Hannie Rayson
David Williamson
Louis Nowra
Alex Buzo

10. There have been many larger than life characters striding the boards of Australian stages over these first 200 years. Arguably the most flamboyant and outrageous is the inimitable Dame Edna Everage. Which Melbourne-born actor brought Dame Edna to life in the mid-1950s and was still playing this role (amongst many others) over 50 years later? Hint

John Clarke
Max Gillies
Barry Humphries
Reg Livermore


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. In 1789, only a year after the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay, the play 'The Recruiting Officer' was performed in the small settlement of Sydney. To honour which monarch's birthday was this first theatrical event staged on Australian soil? (Hint: the USA had different reasons to remember this man!)

Answer: King George III

The comedy 'The Recruiting Officer' was written by Irish playwright George Farquhar in 1706. It tells the story of two flawed officers, the womanizing Captain Plume and and the cowardly Captain Brazen, as they attempt to recruit soldiers in the English midlands town of Shrewsbury.

This play was one of the most popular of the 18th century. It was performed by convicts from the First Fleet during June 1789, and was watched by the Governor, Arthur Philip. This event was recorded in the diary of Captain Watkin Tench.
2. During the late 1820s and early 1830s, both Sydney and Adelaide had theatres open with the same name. What was this name, reflecting Australia's close links with 'the Mother Country'?

Answer: Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal in Sydney was originally built in 1827, but was destroyed by fire thirteen years later. It was finally rebuilt on a different site in 1875 and remains Australia's oldest theatrical institution. Nearly 100 years later, it was demolished to make way for a skyscraper (MLC Centre) but strong public and union pressure ensured that the new building contained this theatre, which reopened in 1976.

Adelaide's Theatre Royal opened in 1838. It was originally a rather simple building where, for example, people sat on planks between uprights in the pits. Long since demolished, this theatre was the first location in South Australia to show 'moving pictures' in 1896.
3. Theatre flourished in Australia during the 1850s. What event, also occurring in the USA around the same time, led to a great increase in Australia's population and a massive demand for theatrical entertainment?

Answer: The gold rush

During the 1850s, the gentry, including rich graziers and pastoralists, were increasingly supporting traditional productions, including Shakespeare and opera. In addition to these, the riches generated from several major gold rushes around the country led to enormous growth in more 'popular' entertainment for the cashed-up miners.

The money available made it worthwhile for international companies to send their productions on tour 'down under'. Several of these touring companies were minstrel shows, including the 'New York Serenaders' in 1851 and the 'Backus Minstrels' in 1855. Such tours included the larger regional towns as well as state capitals. Appreciative crowds often threw gold onto the stage at the end of the performance. Pantomimes and vaudeville were also extremely popular, although shows were sometimes characterized by rowdy, often drunken behavior in the audience and ad libbed banter with those on stage.
4. After moving to Melbourne, this Pennsylvania-born actor and entrepreneur made a rapid fortune from the play 'Struck Oil' in 1874 and astutely bought the Australian rights to the entire Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire. Who was this man whose name was still synonymous with Australian theatre productions over 100 years later?

Answer: J.C. Williamson

Born in 1845 and joining the local amateur theatre at age 15 as a call-boy, James Cassius (J.C.) Williamson became one of the leading comedic actors in San Francisco by 1871. He and his new wife, actress Maggie Moore, toured the US, London and Australia with 'Struck Oil'. Moving to Australia, and after first securing the rights to 'H.M.S. Pinafore' then all the other Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, he formed the Royal Comic Opera Company.

After leasing the Theatre Royal, staging many successful productions and bringing a wide range of famous actors to Australia, Williamson quickly and deservedly earned the reputation as the foremost theatrical manager in the country. Eventually Williamson left his company in the hands of capable directors including Sir George Tallis and the five Tait brothers, and moved to Europe with his daughters in 1907.

He died in 1913. Despite the founder's death, J.C. Williamson Ltd continued to flourish throughout most of the twentieth century with many highlights including bringing Anna Pavlova, and then the Bolshoi Ballet, to Australia.

It wasn't until after the death of the last Tait brother in 1965 that the company ran into difficulties and was eventually 'consumed' in a range of merger deals in the 1970s and 1980s.
5. Which highly controversial play of the late nineteenth century, written by Henrik Ibsen ten years earlier, made its Australian debut in the Princess Theatre, Melbourne in 1889? The play ends with Nora leaving her husband and children in attempt to to discover who she really was.

Answer: A Doll's House

'A Doll's House' was considered quite scandalous when first released, as it was not thought 'proper' that a woman would abandon her family responsibilities under any circumstances. Ibsen portrays the tensions between the needs of the woman (Nora) and the family in a highly thoughtful and evocative manner.

The Princess Theatre was the 'Grand Old Dame' of Melbourne theatres and was originally built in 1854 as Astley's Amphitheatre. In 1886 a new building featuring the world's first retractable roof and ceiling was completed. It boasted state-of-the-art electrical stage lighting and a marble staircase and foyer. The remodeled building was opened with a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Mikado' on 18 December 1886. The building, which is listed by both the Victoria Heritage Register and the National Trust of Australia, hosted the Australian premiere of 'The Phantom of the Opera' in 1990. This was very apt as the theatre has its very own ghost, F(r)ederici, named after the English opera singer, Frederick Baker, who died while leaving the stage after a performance of 'Faust'.
6. Arguably the most well-known actress in the world at that time, who played her famous role from 'La Dame aux Camélias' ('The Lady of the Camellias') to ecstatic and sold out audiences in Sydney in 1891?

Answer: Sarah Bernhardt

By 1891 when George Tallis arranged for Sarah Bernhardt, the acclaimed French actress, to perform in Australia, she was already dubbed 'the most famous actress the world has ever known'. 'The Divine Sarah' was 46 years old when she arrived in Sydney to great excitement. The State Parliament came to a halt and there were mob scenes at Redfern railway station where she was greeted by the Mayor. In July 1891, she took to the stage at Her Majesty's Theatre performing 'Camille'. She went on to perform in 'La Tosca', 'Jeanne D' Arc' and 'Cleopatra'. As the performances were in French, the audience followed the action by means of a booklet which contained an English translation. She also performed in Melbourne and Adelaide.

The Brisbane leg of the tour was, however, never completed. While in Sydney 'The Divine Sarah' met Adrien Loire, the 25 year old nephew of Louis Pasteur who was in Australia to help deal with the rabbit plague. She offered to help translate for him and the two decamped to Rodd Island in Sydney Harbor for a romantic interlude instead.
7. Australian Federation in 1901 ushered in a new era of quintessentially Australian plays. One of the most famous emanated from a series of short sketches by Steele Rudd, published in 'The Bulletin' magazine in the late 1890s. What was the name of this play, which reflected the often comedic trials of Dad and Dave as they tried to come to terms with the new property they'd acquired under the Land Settlement Act?

Answer: On Our Selection

A 'selection' was a plot of unsurveyed land given by the respective state government to encourage intensive agriculture, originating from the Land Acts of the 1860s. 'On Our Selection' was originally written by Arthur Hoey Davis (Steele Rudd) as a series of 26 short stories.

The tales were entertaining, and, especially in hindsight, quite whimsical. Dad and/or Dave would struggle to achieve some task that the other residents of the mythical Snake Gully would perform without fuss. The 1912 play was developed from these short stories by Edmund Duggan and Bert Bailey (who played Dave).

The play was extremely popular with the public and toured the country over the next twenty years. It was revived in 1979 by the Jane Street Theatre in Sydney. The cast then included Mel Gibson as Sandy and Geoffrey Rush as Dave.
8. Considered by many scholars as the most historically significant play in Australian theatre history, Ray Lawler wrote this play set in Melbourne in 1953. What is the name of this masterpiece that describes the annual reunion of sugarcane cutters 'Roo' Webber and 'Barney' Ibbot and explores the tensions arising from changing times and circumstances?

Answer: Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Ray Lawler submitted 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' to a national competition run by the Playwrights Advisory Board in 1955. It won. This was the first of many accolades the play received, including the Evening Standard Award for the best play of 1957 for its season in London's West End.

The story focuses on tensions between four characters, 'Roo', 'Barney' and two women from the city, Pearl and Olive. Pearl replaces the recently married Nancy in this seventeenth reunion. The name of the play refers to the new kewpie doll that was brought along to each of the reunions.

The tensions arise from the current circumstances of each of the main characters (e.g. 'Roo' has recently lost his job) and the pressure each feels to artificially recreate the joy of earlier, care-free years. Lawler later turned this play into part of a trilogy by adding the prequels 'Kid Stakes' (the first meeting) and 'Other Times' (the first meeting after the end of World War II).

The 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' is frequently used in courses on Australian Literature.
9. Australia has produced many wonderful playwrights, whose works can be seen on various stages almost every day of each year. Which of these talented people wrote plays including 'The Removalists' and 'Don's Party' (both from 1971), 'The Club' (1977) and 'Emerald City' (1987) along with over thirty others up until the end of 2012?

Answer: David Williamson

Born in Melbourne in 1942, David Williamson then grew up in rural Victoria. After initially studying mechanical engineering at university, he moved into the theatre as both an actor and writer. He began writing plays with the La Mama Theatre Company in Melbourne in 1968. One of the many reasons for the popularity of his plays is that they deal with age-old points of conflict in society, including the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, tension between ambition and responsibility, politics and the role of power - how it can affect the people who wield it and those around them. He often then develops these themes within iconic Australian settings (for example the Australian Rules Football Club in 'The Club') with a distinctive use of the Australian vernacular.

Many of Williamson's works have been adapted for either film and television, including 'Brilliant Lies', 'Emerald City', 'Sanctuary', 'The Removalists', 'Don's Party', 'Travelling North' and 'The Club'. As an indication of the recognition of Williamson's excellence, by the end of 2012 he had already won 11 Australian Writers' Guild (AWGIE) Awards.
10. There have been many larger than life characters striding the boards of Australian stages over these first 200 years. Arguably the most flamboyant and outrageous is the inimitable Dame Edna Everage. Which Melbourne-born actor brought Dame Edna to life in the mid-1950s and was still playing this role (amongst many others) over 50 years later?

Answer: Barry Humphries

Satire, usually aimed at deflating those people or organizations with an overinflated opinion of their own importance, has been a mainstay of Australian theatre (as well as, more recently, television). Dame Edna, along with his other larger than life creation, Sir Les Patterson, firmly placed Humphries at the forefront of piercing caricature; both characters are extraordinary for being simultaneously excruciatingly funny and entirely cringe-worthy. Humphries first developed Edna Everage in the mid-1950s. Edna gained popularity on the London stage in the 1960s and over the next decades underwent gradual transformations (the lilac hair, the unusual winged-glasses, the fixation with gladioli) on her way to becoming the self-appointed 'Housewife and Superstar' from Moonee Ponds. Humphries was also the creator of the lovable larrikin and completely over the top, uncultured Aussie male, Barry ('Bazza') McKenzie.
Source: Author MikeMaster99

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