AVTA Indexes, Timeline, Site Map, Abbreviations & Bibliography

Practitioners, Entrepreneurs, Stage Characters, Troupes/Companies etc.


Theatres/Venues, Organisations, Genres and Industry/Media etc.


Theatres, Newspapers/Magazines, Production details, Troupes/Companies etc.



VARIETY TIMELINE 2: 1900-2000s

Australian popular culture and entertainment chronology of events. Includes significant births, deaths, theatre openings,  troupe, practitioner and industry activity.


General Historical Resources



There are several ways you can search through the Australian Variety Theatre Archive. Here are some suggestions.


If you are familiar or have some knowledge of early Australian variety theatre and know who or what you are looking for you can probably go straight to the relevant pages. For example:

  • Entrepreneurs: People who were best known for operating their own organisations. These include Harry Clay [A-F], F.M. Clark [A-F] and John N. McCallum [M-R]
  • Practitioners: Include performers like George Wallace [W], stage managers like Bill Sadler [S], or acts like the Grafters Quartette [G]
  • Practitioners [Others]: Comprises performers, writers, actors and composers (as well as entrepreneurs) whose careers are more associated with “legitimate” pursuits, but who nevertheless had a minor (and in some instances a fleeting) relationship with variety entertainment. Examples include Arthur H. Adams [A-L] Leon Caron, and Roy Redgrave [M-Z].
  • Troupes: Include Nat Phillips’ Stiffy and Mo Revue Co [M-R], the American Burlesque Co [A-F] and Cheevers, Kennedy and Bent’s Minstrels [A-F]
  • Industry [People]: Identifies associated industry practitioners like journalist M. A. Keup [A-L], teacher Lilian Ross [M-Z]  and publisher Martin C. Brennan [A-L].
  • Industry [Miscellaneous]: Includes social groups like The Chasers [Misc 1], magazines – Theatre Magazine [Misc 2], associations – the Australian Variety Artists Association [Misc 1] or non-regular amusement venues like the Bondi Aquarium [Misc 1]
  • Organisations and Partnerships: Comprises registered companies like J.C. Williamson’s Ltd [A-L], Harry Clay’s Bridge Theatre Ltd [A-L] and Pugliese Enterprises [M-Z], as well as established, though not necessarily formalised, partnerships such as Delohery, Bovis and Deane [A-L] and Wilkinson and St John [M-Z]
  • Music Directors/Composers [Industry]: Includes those practitioners whose careers were largely carried out in the variety industry
  • Music Directors/Composers [Other]: Comprises practitioners who occasionally contributed to the variety industry but who were mostly known for more legitimate activities.
  • Scenic Artists: Includes people like W.J. Wilson, Alexander Habbe and Alec Stagpoole.
  • Stage Characters: This section identifies the alter egos/stage personnas of variety practitioners – including for example, Stiffy and Mo (Nat Phillips and Roy Rene) and Dinks and Oncus (Jack Peterson and George Wallace).
NB 1 :- You can also check the “Contents”page for each section.
NB 2 :- Biographies are entered alphabetically. As noted above, collective entries like organisations and troupes etc are entered according to the first letter in the official name [J] for J. C. Williamson’s – hence “Organisations [A-L].” If you are after J.C. Williamson the man (as in James Cassius Williamson) look in “Entrepreneurs [S-Z]”



If you’re not sure about who or what you’re looking for you might like to click on one of the indexes (above).

  • Index 1: People :- Incl. performers, troupes, entrepreneurs, acts, musicians, writers, songwriters, scenic artists, choreographers etc.
  • Index 2: Miscellaneous :- Incl. theatres, organisations (e.g. Harry Rickards Tivoli Theatres Ltd), industry associations (e.g. Australian Variety Artists Federation) and media publications (e.g. Australian Variety and Show World).
NB: While each “Contents” page lists only the individual biographies entered in that particular section, the Indexes link associations between entries through a cross referencing process [i.e. see also].



You can also look for information or inspiration through the extensive listing of Works. Entered chronologically according to first known performance, the Works section comprises several thousand productions written by Australian-born or resident practitioners which were staged either in Australia or overseas.

The Index can be used if you’re looking for particular works and their first known year of production.



If you have no previous knowledge of early Australian variety theatre you might like to start with the Genres section. The main page comprises brief insights into the major forms of entertainment, significant practitioners and approximate time periods, with each entry soon to be linked to a more extensive genre biography.



The Australian Variety Theatre Archive is based almost exclusively on primary source research (using newspapers, magazines and first-hand accounts from the period 1850-1930). In accordance with the principles of scholarly or academic writing, which requires the researcher to document all evidence, the AVTA provides citations for much of the information presented. Most of the newspapers and magazines were originally cited in the AVTA using a system of abbreviations developed by Clay Djubal for the appendices in both his MA and PhD theses (as a means of reducing space). Because this issue is less of a problem in a digital publication Dr Djubal is currently in the process of replacing all abbreviations in the website and in pdf biographies. This project began in 2017 and is expected to be completed by mid-2020. An abbreviations document (see above) will remain available until then.

While the archive’s format is based largely on the Modern Languages Association (MLA) style of documentation, some changes have been required in order to fit the online, digital format of this website.

Images L-R: J.C. Bain; Mo (Roy Rene); Ike Beck; George Edwards and Molly Hughes; Stiffy (Nat Phillips); Andy Kerr
Published on May 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm  Comments Off on AVTA Indexes, Timeline, Site Map, Abbreviations & Bibliography