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First Shakespeare performance in Australia

On this day, 8 April 1800, was the first recorded public performance of a Shakespearean play in Australia. 

The popular historical drama Henry IV Part 1 was performed at the “Theatre Sydney” according to a playbill advertising the event which is held in the Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW.

Theatre Sydney, known simply as “The Theatre” was the first public theatre in Australia and is thought to have been located in Bligh Street. The theatre was opened by emancipated convict Robert Sidaway on 16 January 1796 and built by convicts under the supervision of John Sparrow.

The State Library of NSW holds the pre-eminent Shakespeare collection in Australia and is home to the Shakespeare Tercentenary Memorial Library established after the World War 1 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616.

Anthony Quayle as Falstaff in “Henry IV”, 1953 from J.C.Williamson photographs: men performers, plays, theatres, miscellaneous (Call Number: PXA 971 no. 302)

Playbill for Henry IV performed April 8, 1800 at the Theatre, Sydney

Playbill for Henry IV performed April 8, 1800 at the Theatre, Sydney
Early theatre playbills printed by G.Hughes

Find this item in the collection here