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Museum of Performing Arts

EXHIBITION No: 55 - ANZAC COVES

Museum of Performing Arts
Open from Tuesday 22 April

A Salute to…ANZAC COVES

The Entertainers and the Entertainments

Explore the little known cultural dimension to ANZAC

Named in honour of the troupe of soldier-entertainers who dodged bullets and bombs to perform on the battlefronts of Europe, ANZAC COVES is a deeply moving exhibition exploring the tragic years of World War One through the era’s songs, and through those who sang them.

Complemented by photos, programmes and posters, a stunning collection of patriotic Australian sheet music reminds us of the social, political and cultural forces swirling around the newly coined word ‘ANZAC’.

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Image: ANZAC COVES – Pierrot Troupe
direct from the firing line 1917-1918.
Click on the image to enlarge

The men of ANZAC COVES adopted the traditional costume of British seaside concert parties and dressed as Pierrots in baggy white trousers and blouses, topped with pointed hats adorned with pom-poms. Two were dressed in drag as female impersonators.

Thus attired they performed sentimental songs and comedy routines for audiences of soldiers in sheds and barns close to the trenches.

None had signed on as singers, comedians or musicians. All were on active service, performing only while on leave. Entertaining done, they would return to their guns and others would take their place in the line-up. Some were killed between shows. At least three had survived the first Gallipoli landing.

In February 1918 they entertained at Buckingham Palace and soon after undertook a tour of British music halls and variety theatres. The ANZAC COVES are among Australia’s ‘unsung’ heroes.

Tickets: Admission by gold coin donation or item of memorabilia.
Venue: DownStairs at the Maj, His Majesty’s Theatre, 825 Hay St, Perth Enquiries: Ph 9265 0900

HISTORY AND TOURS OF THE MUSEUM OF PERFORMING ARTS

Throughout its colourful and exciting history, His Majesty's Theatre has hosted a myriad of performance genres - from ballet to contemporary dance, opera to musical theatre, vaudeville to stand-up comedy, Shakespearean drama to pantomime and more.

Performers who have graced the stage at 'The Maj' include: Dame Nellie Melba, Anna Pavlova, Gladys Moncrieff, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Sir Robert Helpmann, as well as Academy Award winners Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Sir John Gielgud, Claudette Colbert, Rex Harrison and Geoffrey Rush.

Museum of Performing Arts

These performers, and thousands more who have performed at His Majesty's Theatre since 1904, have all contributed to the cultural and social livelihood of Western Australia. In a fitting celebration of this, in February 2001, His Majesty's Theatre opened the Museum of Performing Arts.

The Museum of Performing Arts is curated by Theatre Historian Ivan King and Friends of His Majesty's Theatre are only too happy to assist with enquiries.

Read the biography of Theatre Historian Ivan King.

The Museum of Performing Arts houses more than 40,000 catalogued items of theatre memorabilia collected by the theatre's historian. Items such as glamorous costumes, photographs, press clippings, scripts, scores and other historic pieces are publicly exhibited at the Museum, DownStairs at the Maj, with a new exhibition to view every six to eight weeks. The oldest item in the Museum collection dates back to 1854 - a beautiful silk programme from a Perth performance of amateur theatricals.

Find out about our various theatre tours including: Grand Historical, Behind the Scenes, School Education and Technical.

To access the extensive collection of archival production photographs, visit the Museum of Performing Arts website at www.mopa.com.au