Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment and the Australian Experience

Concert party and musicians at the 3rd Australian HospitalTo commemorate the ANZAC Centenary, Arts Centre Melbourne presents Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment and the Australian Experience from 18 April in Gallery 1.

Front line and chorus line. Warfare and fanfare. Troops and troupes. Theatres of War is a fascinating examination of the sometimes overlooked importance that theatre and performance has in the hearts and minds of those who find themselves in war zones and on the homefront.

Drawing on Arts Centre Melbourne’s expansive Performing Arts Collection, Theatres of War examines the important role played by the performing arts in the lives of Australians affected by war. From improvised theatrical performances used as a means of escapism in POW camps, to celebrities visiting the front line to entertain our troops, performing arts has had – and continues to have – a powerful role throughout Australia’s war history.

The exhibition explores the personal experiences of Australians on the homefront and in the field. Highlighted performers include opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, artist Norman Hetherington (aka Mr Squiggle), entertainer Patti Newton, 1967’s King of Pop Normie Rowe and radio personalities Hamish and Andy.

Chronicling the First World War to Afghanistan, Theatres of War reflects on the power of performance within conditions that are often creatively stifling. It also explores how artistic expression can draw people together during times of adversity.

Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment and the Australian Experience
Gallery 1 – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Exhibition: 18 April – 20 September 2015
Free entry

For more information, visit: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au for details.

Image: Concert party and musicians at the 3rd Australian Hospital, Dartford, England, c.1918. Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection

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