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Sundowner Update

Posted by ken On November - 11 - 2013

Just a reminder that its party time again on November 20th, 2013, for all staff and veterans in the local television and cinema industries.

This promises to be a success as many industry folk have registered to attend.

More can be found at… Lets Party

Formalities will be kept to a minimum, with an emphasis on the socialising aspects.

The master of ceremonies is Terry Spence, with amusing stories and reminiscences provided by David Hawkes and Ivan King.

  • Terry Spence was a News Director at STW Channel 9 with a long involvement in radio and television. He is not only a renowned journalist and veteran newsman, but also the author of many books dealing with Western Australia.
  • David Hawkes has the distinction of being the Foundation Head of the Department of Media Performance at WAAPA (WA Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University) and a noted broadcaster with the ABC and commercial stations.
  • Ivan King is the theatre historian at His Majesty’s and curator for the WA Museum of Performing Arts. Ivan has worked throughout Australia in countless plays, musicals, reviews, pantomimes and television productions. He has also directed and performed for the Western Australian Opera and been a columnist for the Arts West magazine and the author of articles on theatre history for various publications. He has received many awards in appreciation for his work.

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AMMPT President John Fuhrmann with committeeman Keith Rutherford inspect the items at the WA Museum of Performing Arts

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Ivan King leads the way for John Fuhrman

At an informal meeting at His Majesty’s Theatre on Thursday 7th November, the organisers and presenters for the Sundowner met to discuss the evenings proceedings and take in the latest exhibit at the WA Museum of Performing Art, titled ‘Ladies of the Chorus’, which runs from 8 July to 10 December, 2013. The display can be found down stairs at His Majesty’s Theatre, 825 Hay St, Perth.

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This exhibit takes us back to a bygone era, before television, when the stage was a dominant art form. It gives us a glimpse of the pretty ladies who entertained Perth. The women who supported the big acts that visited our city. The display recognises the vital role these people played in keeping remote and isolated Perth abreast of the current music trends that the common folk loved.

Early Perth cinemas were capable of presenting lavish live stage shows with orchestras, dancers and variety acts. The Ambassadors, Royal, Prince of Wales, Luxor (Tivoli) and Capitol each had stages suited for this purpose. Even His Majesty’s served a dual role as a live theatre and cinema, particularly during the travel restrictions of the war years. Moving picture shows also supplemented Vaudeville performances in Perth, with Vaudeville eventually fading away after the introduction of television. Much as television news killed off the newsreel theatrettes across Australia.

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Costumes from yesteryear and Capitol Theatre bust of Rudolph Valentino

The talent for these shows was sometimes home grown, though the top acts often came from interstate or overseas. Musicians in bands or a solo Wurlitzer organ would accompany the silent movies. The mighty Wurlitzer was able to imitate the instruments of an orchestra and thus capable of replacing an entire band. The organs were only installed in two Perth theatres. the Ambassadors and the Metro.

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The introduction of sound movies placed added pressure on the employment opportunities for theatre orchestras, with the cinemas themselves under pressure to embrace the talkies and sound with the increasing popularity of gramophone recordings and radio.

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Roy Rene as Mo McCackie

Meanwhile the performers moved from one medium to the other as this transition took place. Singers and musicians were heard entertaining on radio, whilst the serious actors provided the voices for radio drama. There was also a busy Australian film industry, which sadly was overtaken by Hollywood.

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Television drama killed off the popular radio serials and quiz shows, where the small screen visuals had a much greater appeal. This thwarted the work opportunities for the many radio actors until Australian television began producing local drama in quantity. This then benefitted a younger generation of actors, as it took time for large scale drama to take off. Meanwhile, the singers and musicians found work in television variety, with Tonight Shows being popular in each State.

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Rosie Stugess & Graham Kennedy as The Wilsons

The nature of popular entertainment also underwent a transition as tastes changed and the younger generations preferred rock’n roll to the serious music that was dominant in early radio.

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Strop and Paul Hogan

The emphasis of the November 20th Sundowner will be social mingling rather than the historical aspects of the industry, though a short video will be presented as a tribute to our home grown comedians who amused audiences in both the cinemas and television.

Australia has been a remarkable fountain of comedic talent, as will be revealed on the night.

This is sure to be a great evening, and hopefully the first of many more to follow if the veterans can get behind the Australian Museum of Motion Picture and Television (AMMPT’s) efforts to commemorate all who have made this possible both locally and nationally.

We’ll endeavour to keep memories alive by the story telling and the collection and display of imagery and artefacts that depict the many ages of our entertainment and information industries.

Many of the videos shown at these AMMPT functions may not find their way onto our web site or the Internet owing to world performing rights issues.

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