'Belly-Speakers', Machines and Dummies: Puppetry in the Australian Colonies, 1830s-1850s

Nicole Anae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The purpose of this article is to give some attention to the characteristics and performative styles of colonial puppetry during the first fifty years of European settlement. Both formal and informal modes of puppetry will be examined; from self-assembled 'Toy Theatres' in around the 1830s, to grand exhibitions of mechanical automata in the 1840s, and roadside glove-puppet shows and marionette theatre beginning in the 1850s. In particular, the examination argues that it is possible to track key developments in nineteenth century colonial puppetry to twin factors: shifts in attitudes to entertainment motivated by mechanisation and commericalisation; and, the rising popularity of ventriloquism, magicians, and minstrel shows in the early Victorian era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-56
Number of pages21
JournalAustralasian Drama Studies
Issue numberOctober 2007
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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