Celebrating Radio, TV, Theatre and Cinema history at WA Day service
Tony Howes has kindly alerted us to the following event…
On Sunday 31st May at 5pm in St George’s Cathedral, Perth, in a service celebrating “WA Day”, four new plaques will be blessed to commemorate the contribution to WA Heritage of pioneers of our theatre and arts worlds. The plaques are then placed on Australia’s only Theatre Memorial, which is housed in the West End of the Cathedral (similar to Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey). The four persons who have been nominated by interested persons and then authenticated by the Cathedral authorities are: CORALIE CONDON (the theatre and TV doyenne who died late last year), ALEXANDER (Tony) TURNER (playwright and illustrious head of ABC Radio Drama in Perth), EDWARD BEEBY (co-founder of the Patch Theatre) and JOHN NUGENT-HAYWARD (actor, musician, broadcaster and director).
The Dean of Perth and the Cathedral Drama Consultant invite all who have an interest in theatre, TV and radio; plus any persons related or who knew the above or their families, to come to the service and to the remain for light refreshments, following. Apart from the dedication of the plaques, the service of sung evensong will feature the glorious music for which the Cathedral is well-known. Current arts’ practitioners will participate in the service. All are welcome!
All of the people being honoured at the above ceremony should be remembered by veterans of theatre, radio, television and the cinema.
We paid a tribute to Coralie Condon (1915-2014) on our web site at: http://watvhistory.com/2015/02/celebrating-the-life-of-miss-coralie-condon/ and our two part tribute to her, starting at: http://watvhistory.com/2015/01/part-1-tribute-to-coralie-condon-1915-2014/ Coralie was an actress, writer, composer, producer, presenter, business woman, the Grande Dame of Perth theatre and the First Lady of Western Australian Television.
ALEXANDER (Tony) TURNER
Alexander Frederick Turner (1907-1993) was a playwright, poet and drama producer with the ABC in Perth from 1946 to retirement in 1972, though Tony continued producing plays on contract for many more years. He also had a great passion for making and collecting toy soldiers, which numbered several thousand. Among his other activities were music and book-binding, a skill he was taught at school in England.
Edward Beeby (1892–1984) was a musician, playwright and political activist who became a noted radio commentator on 6PM-AM during World War II.
Edward was a son of Sir George Stephenson Beeby (1869–1942) known as Judge Beeby. Sir George was a journalist, barrister, politician, judge, novelist and playwright.
Edward and his wife Ida, a former New Zealand singer, Ida Brookfield, came to Western Australia in 1939, though had no intention of staying. They were on their way to England, but because of the war were forced to cancel their trip. After a short time here they decided to open a studio from which to teach music and deportment. Mrs Beeby was a highly-trained musician who had studied under many famous teachers including Percy Grainger. She had composed many dance pieces, for which she also provided the choreography. Their theatre was named the Patch Theatre with its first curtain made entirely of fabric patches. It was located at Bon Marché in Hay Street (the store later became David Jones until the building was demolished).
In 1942, the theatre moved to larger premises in Munster House, Murray Street, Perth. At the end of the World War II it became a training venue for boy actors such as Rolf Harris, Garry Meadows and John Gill. John Gill and Frank Baden Powell went on to create the Hole in the Wall Theatre in 1964.
Mr and Mrs Beeby retired from Patch in 1952, though sadly Mrs Beeby died tragically in a 1953 car accident.
John Nugent-Hayward’s real name was Harold Newton. He came to Australia in the 1920’s, with a background of Sandhurst, service in World War I, medical studies at London University, and a brief trading venture in Algeria. His family was musical, with his father a conductor, who had his son taught violin, clarinet and piano at an early age. Under his stage name he was recognised as one of Australia’s leading radio actors. Not only was radio extending music, news and information to the population, but cinema audience were also hearing for the first time the actors voices both in dramas and musicals. These two media had a profound effect on entertainment and the tyranny of distance for people living far and wide.
With the advent of sound with motion pictures, there was a great impact on the many professional musicians who supported the silent movies. Much unemployment resulted in this field until Harold Newton, formed the Perth Symphony Orchestra in 1928. His brother Percy Newton was also a founder of the orchestra. Percy was the first principal clarinet from 1928 until 1946. He taught the next principal clarinet player, Alan Rule, as well as Jack Harrison. Alan Rule and Jack Harrison taught the current principal clarinet of WASO, Allan Meyer.
By 1930, the orchestra was providing subscription concerts in the Town Hall. Many of these were broadcast by the radio station 6WF. Harold conducted the Perth Symphony Orchestra for six years, whilst seeing its members increase from 37 to 70. He joined 6WF as an announcer and first violin, and took on the mixed bag of duties then expected of a radio man – writing scripts and plays, acting, and running the children’s session. In those early days he was known as Harold (“Duffie”) Newton.
For many years he was thought of as Western Australia’s only film star, being a featured player in the 1946 Australian epic “Overlanders,” which stared Chips Rafferty (as Dan McAlpine), John Nugent Hayward (as Bill Parsons) and Daphne Campbell (as Mary Parsons) – when fear of a Japanese invasion in Australia causes cattlemen to push their herds overland from one side of the country to the other. Earlier he had appeared in a short film entitled South West Pacific, that was made in 1943, and a range of other shorts.
Nugent-Hayward then went on to star as the first Dr. Neil Gordon in the ABC serial by Gwen Meredith called “Blue Hills.” This rural saga ran from 1949 to 1976. It notched up 5795 episodes.
More information on the dedication of Memorial Plaques for the Theatre Memorial Board can be found at: https://www.perthcathedral.org/Event/worship/2015/05/31/evensong-for-wa-day.html
As reported by the West Australian
The memorial is an initiative of Anglican Dean of Perth John Shepherd, a prominent arts supporter.
The Playhouse Theatre – the scene of many of Perth’s greatest stage memories – stood for more than 50 years next on Pier Street next to the cathedral before it was demolished in 2012 to make way for the redevelopment of the cathedral precinct.
“This is a first move in commemorating the State’s artistic heritage in this way,” Dr Shepherd said. “I see it as a forerunner of similar memorials to musicians and ‘fine art’ creators.”
The dedication ceremony will be held at St George’s Cathedral at 5pm on Sunday, WA Day.
The idea emerged after the 2012 death of Metcalfe, the director and actor known as “Mr Playhouse”, whose friends asked Dr Shepherd to accept and dedicate a garden seat in his honour in the cathedral grounds. This encouraged Dr Shepherd to consider a memorial in the south-west corner of the cathedral itself.
Cathedral drama consultant Anthony Howes came up with the initial list of 30 honourees after consulting Museum of Performing Arts curator Ivan King and other theatre figures.
He hoped Theatre Corner might become over time as significant to WA theatre as Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey was to literature.