Australian Variety Theatre Archive – Eleventh Year Highlights (2021-2022)

The Australian Variety Theatre Archive (AVTA) is a research website devoted to popular culture entertainment in the Australasian region between circa 1850 and the mid-1930s. This year, 2022, marks its eleventh year of publication.

The website went online on 10 May 2011, the 146th anniversary of the birth of Australian vaudeville entrepreneur Harry Clay. Since then the archive has published more than 3,222 new records. Many of the original entries have also been updated since 2016.

Two projects initiated in 2016-17 were continued during past twelve months. These were:

  1. Replacing all abbreviations in PDF biographies with full citation details; and
  2. Updating and reformatting all Biograhies (PDFs) and Research Notes (PDFs), while also adding new ones. The rapidly increasing availability of digitised resources – especially the Australian National Library’s digitised newspaper service, Trove – means that the traditional researched biography can now be out of date almost as soon as it is published. The Research Notes alternative therefore provides interim historical insights.

December 2021 also saw Dr Djubal and the Australian Variety Theatre Archive relocate from Brisbane (Qld) to Canberra (ACT).


In addition to undertaking the two projects mentioned above, 22 new entries were published. This involved 20 new agent entries, and 13 new works entries,

Among the new entries are: Drysdale & Faye • Don Nicol • Billee Lockwood • Scott and Wallace • Billy Maloney’s Scandals [2] • Emerson & Wood’s Alabama Minstrels • Emerson’s Minstrels • U.S. Minstrels [1] & [2] • Guild Hall (Sydney) • Romantique Cabaret (Brisbane)

37 previously-published biographies (including research lists and chronologies), 14 sections/pages, and 9 research notes pdfs were updated, expanded and reformatted.


On 10 May 2022 the Australian Variety Theatre Archive comprised 1,574 agent entries (people, organisations, and miscellaneous industry activity); and 1,716 individual works entries (not counting revivals). To put this in perspective, that’s more than double the number of entries (up to and including 1935) currently recorded in AustLit: The Resource for Australian Literature, and at least five times as many Australian-written works identified by AusStage for the same period.* Both AustLit and AusStage are university-operated, multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded databases. The AVTA is a privately-operated resource that hasn’t cost Australian tax-payers a single cent.

* NB: AusStage also records non-Australian-written productions (or events) produced in this country, which makes it very difficult to isolate locally-written works. AustLit, on the other hand, focuses on Australian works only – albeit with some basic records identifying any international sources for Australian adaptations (these are not included in the comparison count as they can be easily identified in the database).


Dr Clay Djubal would like to thank all those people who have contributed to the archive during the past 12 months. Without their help the AVTA would be much less enlightened.

He would also like to thank the 14,457 people who viewed pages on the site between 10 May 2019 and 10 May 2020. Of these 4,731 people investigated the Archive further, at an average of 3.04 pages per visit. The busiest month was August 2021, with 1,477 views and 415 visitors.

While visits from Australia were the most common during 2021/22, the AVTA was also accessed by people from the USA, Spain, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, China, New Zealand, India, Switzerland, and France.



Curtis Catarrh Cure


George Burness • Bruce Drysdale • Drysdale & Faye • Phyllis Faye • Don Nicol • Billee Lockwood • Scott and Wallace • Sisters Phillips (Ethel and Hilda)


Guild Hall (Sydney) • Romantique Cabaret (Brisbane)


Australian Entertainers • Billy Maloney’s Scandals [2] • Bruce Drysdale’s Citizen’s Concerts • California Minstrels • Christy’s Aerial Beauties • Combination Serenaders • Emerson & Wood’s Alabama Minstrels • Emerson’s Minstrels • Gaiety Vaudeville Co (Melbourne) • U.S. Minstrels [1] • U.S. Minstrels [2]

Published and Unpublished Texts: 

“Ted Holland” (poem, 1905) • “Mr Wally Edwards (poem, 1910)


Farces: Barnum’s Twins (1885) • Circus Difficulties (1884) • How Do You Like It? (1884) •  Juvenile Party (1884) •  Katrina in Ireland (1884) • My Walking Photograph (1885) • Professor of Dancing (1885) • Uncle Edward’s Visit (1885) • Warm Night, A (1889) • Wanted A Nurse (1884) • Who Killed Him (1885)


3 new images were also added to the AVTA during the year: Christy’s Minstrels • Wally Edwards • Billee Lockwood


Biographies, Film Production Notes and Research Lists (PDFs)

Practitioners/People/Companies/Troupes/Venues Bios/Industry: Ayala Champagne • Bondi Aquarium (Sydney) • Bonnington’s Irish Moss • Dr Sheldon’s • Freeman & Wallace • G.W. Hean • Harry Clay’s Theatrical Agency & Booking Office (Sydney) • Manly Chute (Sydney) • Rexona

Wally Edwards • Gilbert Emery • Ted Holland • Gerald Shaw • Gladys Shaw • Mary Connolly • Gerry Connolly • Keith Connolly • Wykeham & Preston

Mo & His Merrymakers • Snowdrop Minstrels (Rockhampton) • So and Sos [1] • So and So’s [2] • So and So’s [3] • Stanley MaKay’s Mammoth Panto Co • Stanley McKay’s No 1 Panto Co • State Entertainers • Swastika Players • Topics of 1925 • Town Topics [2] • Trilby Tourists • Verto’s Biotint & Novelty Co • Verto’s Vaudeville Co • Weston & Hussey’s Minstrels • Who’s Who Costume Revue Entertainers • World’s Entertainers [4]

Golden Gate Gardens (Sydney) • Guild Hall (Sydney)


Farces: He Carries A Razor • Kiss in the Dark • Lawyer’s Clerk • Rival Artists

Research Notes

 Hamilton Continentals (Brisbane) • North’s Concerts (Melbourne) • Tivoli & Lyric Continentals (Brisbane) • Tivoli Continentals (Brisbane)


American Minstrel Show Collection • Austral Harmony • Bibliography • Concerts and Theatre Programs Collection (AWM) • Farces • Historical Insights • Hood Collection • Index 1 (People) • Index 2 (Misc) • Nat Phillips Collection – Fryer • Nat Phillips-Fryer Finding Aid • Texts: Published (Patter & Comedy Routines) • Texts: Published (Poetry, Prose & Short Stories) • Variety Timeline 1 [1800-1899] • Variety Timeline 2 [1900-2000s]


The AVTA is another publication from

Published in: on November 15, 2022 at 5:39 am  Comments Off on Australian Variety Theatre Archive – Eleventh Year Highlights (2021-2022)