Collaborative Community History Award

In the Name of Theatre. The History, Culture and Voices of Amateur Theatre in Victoria

Cheryl Threadgold

The Author, Melbourne, 2020


In his introduction to this book, Frank Van Straten, doyen of Melbourne’s theatre history, writes that amateur theatre with its infectious enthusiasm and ‘homely, intimate venues’ creates a ‘special form of magic’. It’s this magic that Cheryl Threadgold captures in her book. The colourful cover invites the reader to explore successive periods of amateur theatre in Victoria and reflect on the many people involved in a single production. Numerous famous players, such as Zoe Caldwell, have started careers in amateur theatre.

The great strength of this book is the second part, which features representatives of about 150 musical and non-musical amateur companies across Victoria. These theatre enthusiasts, from Bairnsdale, Castlemaine, Dunolly, Maffra, and Swan Hill to the many suburbs of Melbourne, discuss their companies’ history and a cavalcade of productions. Cheryl Threadgold, herself a longtime participant in aspects of amateur theatre, conveys a rich community theatrical culture, usually overshadowed by sport, in this wonderful collaborative project.