The Shakespeare ladies: a history of the Wagga Wagga Shakespeare club

Jeanette Thompson

    Research output: Textual Creative WorksCreative Works Original - Textual


    Ironically the absence of roles for women in the theatre during Shakespearean times can be seen as somewhat ameliorated by this small band of faithful women happily reading all of the male parts Shakespeare has fashioned for an ageless audience.Research SignificanceThe research has encouraged a number of cultural groups to revisit their archival materials and collective histories. The oral interviews have yielded data for researchers working on related cultural organisations ' The School of Arts and Riverina Theatre Company for example. The connections with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust during the centenary year have resulted in visits by members to their research library at the Shakespeare Centre in England and the book rest in their repository. The book and centenary celebrations enabled creative connections to be made between the Club, John Bell of the Bell Shakespeare Company and Katherine Brisbane of Currency Press. The Club members attend Bell Shakespeare workshops with students at a local high school and members adjudicate the National Globe Theatre competition each year. This is due in part to the ability of the book to create a public awareness of Shakespearean enthusiasts in the community and to raise the public profile of the Club.Title of Work: The Shakespeare ladies : A history of the Wagga Wagga shakespeare club. Reference: Thompson, J. (2004). The shakespeare ladies : A history of the Wagga Wagga shakespeare club. Wagga Wagga, NSW: fourWpress. 86467 1580Research Background The Wagga Wagga Shakespeare Club, founded in 1904, is the longest continuously active Shakespearean reading group in the world. This is the first history of the club complied from archival records, oral interviews and newspaper reports. In addition to providing a history of a unique reading group, the book provides a window into the social fabric of the community from 1904 to the present day. The activities of the Club are set against the national Shakespearean theatrical scene, including notes and descriptions of visits from prominent thespians and writers (Dame Sybil Thorndyke, Sir Robert Helpman, Keith Mitchell, Googie Withers, Dame Mary Gilmore). The Club also enjoys honorary membership of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford upon Avon, and the book includes in its archival materials programs and articles on international events and controversies. The lives of members of the club, past and present, illuminate the social and cultural development of Wagga Wagga as many of these women contributed to the foundation of the city's main cultural institutions in the visual arts, theatre, musical and literary fields. The research question was to determine what features of the Club ensured its longevity, so that other cultural groups could learn from its success.Research ContributionThe publication was supported by a Crow Award from Wagga Wagga City Council, funding from the NSWMinistry for the Arts, Regional Arts NSW, and the Booranga Writers Centre at Charles Sturt University. The lives and cultural aspirations of these women have not been previously documented and their contribution to the social capital of our rural community has long been elided in the traditional history of white settlement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Type1 page
    PublisherFourW Press
    Number of pages1
    Place of PublicationWagga Wagga, NSW, Australia
    ISBN (Print)1864671580
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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