Episode 1: When Theatre is Criminal

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A hand pulls back a red curtain to reveal a bright stage light; text reads 'Off Stage'

In 1796, the theatre was the place to be. In the growing colony of Sydney, people packed in to see ex-convicts perform the latest popular plays.

On Stage, an exhibition at the National Library, has an exquisite treasure from this time: a playbill once belonging to the Lieutenant-Governor of NSW, Philip Gidley King.

On our first episode of Off Stage, host Melanie Tait takes you inside the theatre to meet the characters involved the production of Jane Shore.

Guests: David Marr, journalist and Gillian Russell, Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature and author of The Playbill and its People

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Episode 2: Just Desserts

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A hand pulls back a red curtain to reveal a bright stage light; text reads 'Off Stage'

Throughout the late 1800s and a lot of the 1900s, there was one name on most of the posters of shows that made it big in Australia: JC Williamson. JC Williamson Ltd was one of the biggest production companies of our history, and it was started by a man called James Cassius Williamson. This episode looks at the life and legacy of JC Williamson’s, and one of the biggest touring stars they brought to Australia – ballerina Anna Pavlova. And yes, we can’t talk Pavlova without getting deep into meringue choices and whipped cream.

Guests: Dr Robert Reid, Theatre Historian and Annabelle Utrecht, Meringetrix and Food Researcher

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Episode 3: Rose Quong's Midlife Crisis

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A hand pulls back a red curtain to reveal a bright stage light; text reads 'Off Stage'

By the time we’re in our mid-forties, most of us feel as though our life is pretty much sorted out. Not Rose Quong. After twenty-seven years, she left her public service job in Melbourne to pursue life as an actress in London. She continued to chase adventure for all the years of her life afterwards.

Guests: Professor Angela Woollacott, Manning Clark Professor of History at the Australian National University, author of Race and The Modern Exotic (2011).

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