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All the State's a stage…

2016 marks 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare. And, while Shakespeare’s characters were often cast into successful (and not so successful) romantic episodes, Sydney has also enjoyed a long-term affair with the Bard.

This extraordinary listing of theatres and public halls in New South Wales, published in the Government Gazette of New South Wales on 15 July 1909, shows just how many options there were for locals and visiting tourists wanting to find a few hours entertainment: including, perhaps, one of Bill’s productions.

Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (15 July 1909)

(15 July 1909) Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 3959.

Perhaps they saw Othello at the Criterion Theatre (then on Pitt Street, Sydney), or the production of As You Like it at Her Majesty’s Theatre , or even headed up to Newcastle for Hamlet at the Victoria Theatre – all performed in 1909!

While Shakespeare’s plays continue to be performed around Australia, we have far fewer performance spaces, as so many of these theatres are now closed. But it’s fantastic that we’ve got the Government Gazette so we can look back and see just how many public halls there were, spread right across the state.

Were you lucky enough to see a performance of Shakespeare in one of these bygone halls of entertainment? We would love to hear about any of the places you recognise on this list.

And if you’re still looking for a dose of Shakespeare, come join the State Library in our #Shakespeare400 celebrations! 

Queue for tickets, Her Majesty's Theatre c1930

Queue for tickets, Her Majesty's Theatre, later Sydney Tower,  Sam Hood,  c1930