MME // OAI → Australian War Memorial → Guide to the Concert and Theatre Programs Collection, First World War, 1914-1918. Collection number: Souvenirs 2JSON
Guide to the Concert and Theatre Programs Collection, First World War, 1914-1918. Collection number: Souvenirs 2
The Concert and Theatre Programs collection contains hand-drawn and commercially printed programs produced to complement or advertise concerts, plays, musical evenings, recitals, pantomimes and revues. These events were arranged to entertain troops, as well as to raise money, or to mark an occasion like Christmas or New Year. Most programs list the names of cast members. Some contain nominal rolls. The professionally produced programs contain advertising and editorial material. The earliest items are from 1914; the latest is dated 1931, but refers to an event during the war. The programs were produced in many different countries, including England, Australia, France and Egypt.
SERIES 1: Concerts associated with ships. Description: This series contains programs for concerts, plays and revues performed at sea or on land. These programs are for entertainment performed by concert parties, soldiers and members of the ship's company or band. The programs vary in size and quality, from one page typed sheets, some with hand done illustrations, to multi-page, professionally printed items. Some contain lists of names, many are autographed. A number of items are not dated.; SERIES 2: Theatre programs and tickets. Description: This series contains theatre programs and associated material from theatres in the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa and Australia during the First World War. There are also some programs related to performances attended by troops whilst awaiting to return to Australia after the war. The majority are for theatres in London and include programs for concerts, ballets and plays held in theatres. Most programs include cast lists, lists of songs, pieces or skits performed and descriptions of scenes. Many programs also include advertising material for clothes, personal equipment, furniture, household items, food and drink and upcoming attractions. Most include information about what to do during an air raid. Some programs have been autographed including 74 items signed by Edward White Moncrieff of 45 Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.; SERIES 3: Cinema programs and tickets. Description: The series contains tickets, programs and other souvenirs related to screenings of movies at cinemas or other venues in Australia, Europe, Egypt and the Middle-East. This series also includes a book of tickets for a lichtspielhaus in Germany.; SERIES 4: Concerts given by military units. Description: This series contains material related to concerts and other performances given by military units from both Allied and Axis countries during the First World War. These programs range enormously in their style, production methods, paper type and content. Most list the names of cast members or performers. Many have been hand coloured and some are original works. Some feature illustrations, cartoons, jokes and advertisements whilst others are simply typed sheets. Some include a menu as well as a program of events.; SERIES 5: Benefit concerts. Description: This series contains items related to benefit concerts held during the First World. There are also some items for events related to the First World War but held afterwards. These programs and related souvenirs relate to performances staged in Australia and overseas to raise money for a variety of causes. Amongst these beneficiaries were the Belgian Relief Fund and wounded soldiers.; SERIES 6: Concerts for the troops by organisations and societies. Description: This series includes material related to concerts produced by organisations and societies to entertain servicemen during the First World War. Styles range from hand-drawn to multi-page professionally produced items featuring advertisements, photographs and editorial material. Some feature cover illustrations by Tom Roberts, Cecil Hartt and W.Otho Hewett.; SERIES 7: Prisoner of war and internment camp concerts . Description: This series includes items made by prisoners of war for concerts held in German POW camps. At Steinhorst the prisoners produced decorative programs for each weekly concert held on Sundays. These were created with ink that they had made themselves. Included in this series is a photo of officers who produced a performance of the play Review. Another interesting collection of items are those from the German internment camps at Trial Bay and Holdsworthy. The programs in this collection are postcard size items, most in black and white. Some are in colour. All show a very strong graphic style which make them most attractive.; SERIES 8: Concert programs and tickets. Description: This series features items related to concerts held to farewell and welcome home troops during the First World War. The two items from St Kilda list the names of those who were to recieve presentations.; SERIES 9: Entertainment after the war. Description: This series contains programs for performances and other events held after the First World War. These performances were organised for a variety of purposes including fundraising for various returned soldiers organisations and appeals. This series also includes programs for plays exhibiting a military theme.; SERIES 10: Personal collections. Description: This series contains large personal collections of concert and theatre performances from the First World War that were collated by individual servicemen. Included in this series is a collection of concert and theatre programs and related souvenirs from France, Belgium and Greece that were collected by Mr Robert Luks who served with the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Team during the First World War.
Theatre programs Programs or play bills have long been produced to advertise productions and to serve as a reference for the audience during the show. As a class of document, they have survived in great numbers, as people are naturally inclined to collect mementoes of pleasurable occasions. The programs in this collection include both amateur and professional productions, and give an indication of the shows and concerts a soldier on leave in London or Paris might see, as well as how soldiers at the front, in hospital or travelling on troop ships were entertained. There are also programs from shows held in Australia, mostly connected to fund raising; they are an interesting counterpoint to the programs produced by the troops. Concert parties and field theatres flourished in the British Army in the First World War. The English, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Canadian, New Zealanders all had their groups of performers. By late 1917, in the Australian Imperial Force, every Division now had its concert party, almost every Brigade had its entertainers, while even the Battalions were beginning to organise troupes which were to be set apart to do nothing more than keep up the spirits of the war-weary men. (Harvey, 1920, p. 202) It is clear from the programs in this collection that there was a wide variety of acts, turns, or performances. Those programs produced by units, as opposed to things organised at Division level, seem to be hilarious, even ribald. Fuller states that the divisional concert parties were held to a standard of propriety; the brigade and battalion troupes much less so. (Fuller, 1990, p. 107)
Contact Senior Curator, Published & Digitised Collections, Australian War Memorial.
Open - Contact Senior Curator, Published & Digitised Collections, Australian War Memorial.
Selected additional and related material available at http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/ using the search terms described under 'subject _local'. Copies of many items from the Memorial's collections may also be purchased @ http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/sales/.
Anniversaries; Celebrations; Entertainment; Memorials; National days
Anzac Day souvenirs; Books; Cinema; Concert parties; Concerts; Entertainers; Entertainment; Female impersonators; First World War; Music; Official Records; Private Records; Serials; Theatre; Troopship serials; Variety shows
Greeting cards; Leaflets; Menus; Photographs; Postcards; Programs