Queensland Places - Thursday Island - Thursday Island Dramatic Society

The Thursday Island community has always had access to a wide range of entertainment including movies, dances and concerts as well as plays.  The old Town Hall was a popular venue for many of these events and activities and it is clear from the newspaper reports of the time that these were always well supported and popular.  One of the community groups providing entertainment in the late 1940s and early 1950s was the Thursday Island Dramatic Society.

In November 1949, the society’s first performance, the three act comedy “Good Morning Bill” was staged in the old Town Hall to a capacity audience.  Newspapers provided coverage, including reviews from as far away as Cairns, reporting very professional acting performances, with the different roles taken by various community members.  These included Archdeacon Bennie, Mrs. Bennie, Mrs. Barnes, Dr. Streeton, Colonel Cullinane, June Bethel and Colin Tress, all prominent on Thursday Island as well as the surrounding area.  It was further reported that the proceeds raised at this performance were to be for the benefit of the Church of England Quetta Cathedral. Later, in January 1950, the Dramatic Society was again mentioned in newspaper reports as “working hard to produce Pygmalion”, for April 1951.  At the same time the society was staging the comedy “Rookery Nook”.  The performance of this play also received favourable reviews in addition to being well attended.  But apart from these few performances, the newspapers of the time do not appear to reveal details of other performances by this society, so it may have been short-lived, with those involved perhaps moving on to other things.
The old Town Hall continued to be a main venue for a variety of entertainments and was always a focal point for the social life of the Thursday Island community.

Thursday Island Town Hall, formerly the Victoria Memorial Institute, ca. 1940. State Library of Queensland Neg. No. 42736

Thursday Island Town Hall, formerly the Victoria Memorial Institute, ca. 1940. State Library of Queensland Neg. No. 42736

Thursday Island Dramatic Society programme, 1951. John Oxley Library Ephemera Collection.

Thursday Island Dramatic Society programme, 1951. John Oxley Library Ephemera Collection.

Thursday Island Dramatic Society Cast, 1951. John Oxley Library Ephemera Collection

Thursday Island Dramatic Society Cast, 1951. John Oxley Library Ephemera Collection

These images show the Victoria Memorial Institute building in Douglas Street, later to be generally known as the Thursday Island Town Hall, in around 1940, as well as the Thursday Island Dramatic Society’s 1951 programme for the comedy play, “Rookery Nook”.

Brian Randall - Senior Librarian, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

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