Thursday 13 February 2020

BMC members and friends mentioned in Sydney New Theatre's Wiki.

Click on pictures for full-screen image

The Sydney New Theatre wiki is a fascinating site. 
It includes information about our founders and other early members and the productions of Reedy River they were involved with.
Thanks to Lyn Colllingwod from New Theatre for permission to use these extracts. 


Of interest to ASIO, Tom joined NT in October 1947 after which he was involved in 72 plays ... In 1955 Tom married NT member Silvia Meech. He and Silvia sang at NT fundraising functions and were regular marchers on May Day. In 1980 Tom helped with building repairs at King Street, and in 1987 he and Silvia were made Life Members ...  Tom Salisbury was the subject of several ASIO reports, one agent noting that he was a non smoker and non drinker and that "flattery has no effect on this person". He first came to the attention of Security in 1948 when he signed a NT petition protesting against the public screening of Iron Curtain.

Silvia & Tom (seated, right) performing at a Singabout night 27/09/1970 (Bob Bolton photo) (later Salisbury) Silvia joined NT in 1951 as a pig-tailed schoolgirl. She acted in An Inspector General 1952, and the next year was in the chorus of the first Reedy River, before taking on the lead role of Mary opposite Milton Moore as Joe Collins. She went on to sing at NT functions and folk concerts, performed with Contact street theatre and at Lawson festivals, and at peace and Save Our Sons rallies. Her later passion was the Trade Union Choir, its choirmaster Tom Bridges, son of Doreen Jacobs

Cast list in Tom & Silvia's 1953 Reedy River program. (BMC Archives, courtesy of Silvia & Tom)

Tom & Silvia are members of the Sydney Trade Union Choir and were part of our Themed Presentation on BMC's First Ten Years at the 2012 National Folk Festival

Rehearsal for First Ten Years, Silvia second from left, Tom second from right

(Photo © Sandra Nixon) 
Memories of Reedy River & the Bush Music club by Silvia Salisbury (2012)

JOAN CLARKE ...With John Meredith, Clarke wrote The Wild Colonial Boy about bushranger John Donahoe. Billed as another Reedy River, it was staged by Brisbane NT in 1956 but survived only six performances ...
photo - Left to right: Les Hope, June Worth, Pat Barnett, Sylvia Meech, Edgar Penzig, Eddie Allison and Nan Gow in Home Brew, 1954
John Dengate wrote a song re the My Lai massacre for On Stage Vietnam 1967, and in Exposure 70 sang “F111” and his own “HMAS Melbourne” to the tune of “Wild Rover No More”. In 1993 he participated in a NT fundraising concert, in 2002 performed in a concert version of Reedy River for a National Folk Festival, and in 2007 played Swaggie in Reedy River in NT’s season of Censored plays (occasionally banned because of its association with Sydney's "Red" theatre). 

PETER FRANCIS (Not a member)  ... All this changed with the unexpected success of Reedy River. Peter performed in it 70 times (sometimes removing his false teeth). On a trip to Newcastle the cast annoyed other train passengers with non-stop singing of the show's bush tunes.  
CECIL GRIVAS ... A good singer, he performed in Reedy River in 1953 and 1954; ... One of his last appearances with The Bushwhackers was at Dame Mary Gilmore’s 90th birthday in 1955.

Bushwhackers in Reedy River costumes at Dame Mary Gilmore's 90th Birthday celebrations, August 16, 1955, 
Harry Kay & Brian Loughlin were hidden at the left. (BMC Archives)
With brothers Roland and Milton he established his own group The Galahs which played in the suburbs. Milton, a pianist, also acted with the Richmond Players in the 1950s, and produced for the Blacktown Musical Society in the 1960s.

The Galahs, Cecil is in the middle (source - Xanthe Grivas)
JUNE MILLS (Grivas) (Grivas) ...Of interest to ASIO, June Mills was also known by the surnames Worth, Galloway and Grivas ...

In 1954 June Grivas penned an ode to Reedy River:

Some people they like Homer, others they like Shaw,
And others like the “classics”, I could name ‘em by the score.
Some people they like “epics” crammed full of blood and lust
While others go quite drooly over Marilyn Monroe’s bust.
But me, I like the stories of Australia land
Of the pioneers, the shearers and the gallant Eureka Band.
I’m not the only one, there’s at least 10 million more
So just give us Reedy River and the Eumerella Shore.

Doreen Jacobs arranged the music and Helen Palmer wrote the words of “The Ballad of 1891”; they were very strict about the accuracy of both in Reedy River productions. Doreen was musical director on the 1979 production directed by Frank Barnes ...

... Father and son Harry Kay were NT members, junior joining in 1951 and senior in 1953. In 1953 Harry Kay senr operated lights for United Notions in which his son performed. Harry Kay jnr was in the cast of Merry-Go- Round and the 1960 revival of Reedy River directed by Roger Milliss. Both were in the bush musical's original production.

Harry with mouth organ (Reedy River, Sydney, 1953/54 - BMC Archives)

CHRIS KEMPSTER ...with Silvia Salisbury, was in a NT folksinging concert in 1964, ... He formed his own group the Rambleers (a founding member was Mark McManus) ...
(conversation with Alex Hood - Alex had the first idea about founding the Rambleers,
Mark was not a founder, he was invited to join a later concert when they needed a larger lineup. Alex later had an electrical contracting business & he employed Mark for a while, Mark later did a lot of acting (& radio?????

hris with guitar (Reedy River, Sydney, 1953/54 - BMC Archives)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ...A natural tenor with a pure singing voice, he played Irish in Reedy River 1960 and was a member of Chris Kempster’s group The Rambleers.  (2 pics of RR 1960)
DENIS KEVANS ...Of interest to ASIO, “poet lorikeet” Denis Kevans was in the cast of Reedy River and performed in a number of folk concerts. He wrote verse and songs, and reviewed plays for Tribune. He joined the Rambleers folk group, its members including Mark McManus and Harry Kay jnr. His last appearances at NT were in a 2004 tribute for Chris Kempster and a Loosely Woven concert in March 2005.


Like most of the original Bushwhackers, Brian was living at Heathcote when he performed in the first Reedy River in 1953 (his wife babysat while he played) and again in 1969. Brian played the lagerphone (a broom nailed with beer bottle tops) and bones, and for John Meredith helped publish Songs from the Kelly Country for the Bush Music Club, its first edition 1955.

Brian was born in Melbourne to Communist parents. He joined the CPA at age 18, and the Eureka Youth League. By 1948 he was working in Sydney as a compositor at the Daily Telegraph and became a prominent member of the Printers’ Union. On 22 October 1949 at Bankstown he married Pamela Louise Fenton who was working as a secretary in a biscuit factory. The Fenton family were strong trade unionists and Pam was a member of the CPA. (She could also play the spoons.) The couple were arrested in an early Aboriginal rights demonstration.

The Loughlins lived in Melbourne, Randwick, Heathcote and Rozelle (where their house, a distribution point for the Tribune, was infiltrated by ASIO informers). Brian Loughlin died of a heart attack at Balmain while dancing at a function supporting Communist forces in Vietnam.

Loughlin house in Heathcote, 1950s  (photo - their nephew Ron Nixon)

A self-taught musician, Jack Meredith was the founder of the Bushwhackers whose playing in 1953 ensured the success of Reedy River. While participating in the show he lived at Clovelly, his landlord Milton Moore.

He collaborated with Joan Clarke on the musical The Wild Colonial Boy about bushranger John Donahoe. ... Meredith recorded songs and music from all over Australia. He was a founding member of the Bush Music Club and edited its magazine Singabout. In 1980, researching a book about the 1915 Coo-ee march from Gilgandra, he was seeking out the 50 entries to the Coo-ee song competition.

CLEM MILLWARD  ... designed Roger Milliss’s 1960 production of Reedy River. ...

Inside back cover Reedy River song book 1979 (BMC archives)

NEIL MORRISON (Not a member)   ... He dressed in neck-to-knee bathers for the 1954 Reedy River fancy dress ball ... In 2002 and 2009 he recorded Henry Lawson and other Australian poetry set to music ... His funeral oration was delivered by ex-pupil Ian Hamilton, a NT supporter ... (Neil died a few years ago - conversation with Ian Hamilton) (Alex Hood missed the Ball as he was in Western Australia- Alex 2020) 

EDGAR PENZIG ... Penzig set up an historical museum at Wallacia and organised re-enactments of Ben Hall’s death in a park in Forbes, involving Cec Grivas and his brothers as singers ... Penzig died at Oatlands Tasmania on 19 November 2010

Newspaper clipping, Tuesday February 2, 1965 (Chris & Virginia Woodland collection)

ROD SHAW ... Rod Shaw married Frances Cottingham in 1939; she died in 1983. Of their three children, daughter Chrissie became an active NT member. Rod Shaw died of cancer on 7 December 1992.

Les Tanner giving tips on make-up to the Reedy River cast, 1953

As far as we know Len Tanner was not a member,   A CPA member of interest to ASIO, Les Tanner in the period 1948-58 was a "legend" at NT as a set, costume and graphics designer and a talented, consistently good actor with stage charm and presence, especially in comedy. He went on to become one of Australia’s best-known Press cartoonists for over 40 years.


No comments:

Post a Comment