Ryan, D. (2015). Giving a little happiness : Performance in Brisbane during World War II. The International Journal of Arts Theory and History (print),10(4), 21-32. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.18848/2326-9952/CGP/v10i04/36288
World War II marked a turbulent period in Brisbane’s social life. Theatre served an important social function within the community, giving performers the opportunity to identify themselves as ‘patriotic’ and providing the chance for performers and audiences to indicate their solidarity and commitment to the cause. With the arrival of the US servicemen artificially increasing Brisbane’s population, certain types of theatrical performances flourished. Most importantly, the increased popularity of Vaudeville is an indication that the theatre was needed to offer a diversion from the realities of war-time life as performance became a means of forgetting the atrocities surrounding the people. This idea is best summed up in the words of one war-time performer who when asked about the war in Europe responded with “let us talk about more pleasant subjects—music and art and the beautiful things of life…Our important function is to provide diversion.” This paper demonstrates how the theatre in Brisbane reacted to the pressures of war. It will be shown that the war provided an opportunity for members of Brisbane’s community to contribute to the society and to the war effort by embracing theatrical activities.
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