Melodrama in the Snowy Mountains: Cooma Little Theatre's 1962 Production of Only an Orphan Girl

Janet McGaw


Melodrama was prolific in Australia from the mid-nineteenthcentury until the First World war when is was replaced by cinema as a form of mass entertainment. It was resurrected in a caricature version in the 1950s and became hugely popular in capital cities as well as in a number of country centres. This article examines the revival of melodrama in the New South Wales town of Cooma in the context of the impact of the Australian government's post-war mass immigration policies, and the significant social and demographic changes that occurred in Cooma following commencement of work on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme in 1949. It focuses on the early activities of Cooma Little Theatre, with specific reference to the Theatre's 1962 production of Only an Orphan Girl. It considers the role of melodrama during a time of major upheaval and its longer term influence on the theatrical life of the town.

Keywords:  Melodrama, amateur theatre, audiences, immigration, Snowy Mountains Scheme



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