Then and Now – Sorlie's Tour to Broken Hill in 1960

Jonathan Bollen


This article draws on a survey of entertainments in a Broken Hill newspaper between 1955 and 1964 to consider historical change in the mix of entertainments attracting audiences in mid-twentieth century Australia. Located remotely in far-west New South Wales, Broken Hill became well-serviced with transport routes and communications to three capital cities. Commercial producers of live entertainments took advantage of these routes, touring successful productions from the capital cities for seasons in Broken Hill. In this article, the focus is Sorlie’s musical revue, the premier travelling show at the time, presenting world-class variety entertainment to audiences in regional Australia. Since regular television transmissions did not reach Broken Hill until the mid-1960s, audiences in Broken Hill continued to enjoy opportunities for live entertainments that were undergoing contraction in the capital cities, where television had already been. Sorlie’s 1960 tour to Broken Hill affords a distinctive vantage point from which to consider historical change in Australian entertainment, as touring entertainers relayed in performance narratives of progress from a ‘future’ already unfolding elsewhere. Jonathan Bollen is Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies in the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

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