Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has undertaken extensive research into the work of his great great grandfather and Australian's most prolific colonial theatre architect George R. Johnson (1840-1898). He has written entries for the Australian Dictionary of Biography and the Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture.  Peter operates an architectural practice in St Kilda and acts as a valuer of architectural documents for the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

Thursday, 10 January 2013 04:30

Benefits of Membership

Join Theatre Heritage Australia and...

Be part of the Australian theatre community

  • learn more about the history of Australian theatre, its people and its buildings
  • participate in THA theatre tours & events
  • develop your professional and social network

Membership gives you:

  • access to the members' area of the web site
  • access to the latest articles appearing in On Stage
  • ability to add your comments to these articles
  • ability to access and download text searchable back issues of On Stage magazine
  • a discount on event fees

Better still membership is now free! Just click on 'Create and Account' in the login panel and complete the details.

Monday, 07 January 2013 20:00



We plan to develop this section in the future to give writers of Australian theatre history the opportunity to publish their work and receive a commission.

We also hope to offer out-of-copyright books and other articles on theatre history. However we need to organise a PayPal facility first and this takes time.

Coming in late 2013. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 06 January 2013 16:43

Purposes & Rules

Much of Australia's important theatre history is in danger of being forgotten. The very theatres themselves, which gave us the framework for this panorama of talent, are endangered. THA has been formed to fight for the preservation of both the history and the fabric of our ongoing theatre heritage.


The purpose of THA is to promote and encourage:

  • the study of and research into Australia’s rich theatre history;
  • the preservation, renovation and use of Australia’s theatres;
  • the identification, documentation and preservation of items relating to Australia’s theatre history;
  • the establishment and maintenance of links with similar organisations in Australia.



The organisation was founded by Evan Hercules in 1995 and originally called the Victoria Theatres Trust (VTT). To better reflect our national focus, at the 2008 AGM the VTT membership decided to incorporate and to change the name of the organisation to Theatre Heritage Australia Inc. (THA).



We are bound by a set of rules lodged with Consumer Affairs Victoria.
You can download a full set of our rules here.

Saturday, 22 December 2012 19:49


Without the tireless efforts of our volunteers this organisation could not possibly function. 
Therefore we would like to acknowledge and thank the following people for their considerable input:


Office Bearers  
President Simon Piening
Vice President Diana Burleigh
Secretary Elisabeth Kumm
Treasurer Howard Cordner

Accountant Howard Cordner
Bookings   Judy Leech
Events Committee  Delia Taylor, Judy Leech, Mimi Colligan
Event Flyers Judy Leech, Mimi Colligan
Images with grateful assistance of the SLV Pictures Collection team
Minute Secretary (position vacant) 

On Stage  
Editor (position vacant)
Editorial Committee Mimi Colligan, Elizabeth Kumm, Peter Johnson, Frank Van Straten
Layout (print version) Arena Graphics (Christine Bland)

Web Site  
Layout & Content Peter Johnson, Simon Piening
ePublications & Flickr Peter Johnson
Sunday, 16 December 2012 16:09

Contact Details

General Enquiries:  

29 Northumberland Street, Collingwood, 3066  e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or better still, contact the person concerned below:


Simon Piening   e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Vice President

Diana Burleigh  e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Elisabeth Kumm   e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Howard Cordner e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Officeholders and committee members are elected by the membership every year at our AGM in March. If you would like to nominate for the committee or act as an officeholder please complete this nomination form.

A proxy form for use at annual, general and special meetings can be downloaded using this link.

Monday, 24 December 2012 10:05


The Committee is elected by the membership every year at our AGM in March. If you would like to join or learn more about what we do, please contact us or simply complete a nomination form and send it to us.

Diana Burleigh

Diana is a well-known actor, director, reviewer and radio presenter. She is particularly recognised for her work directing Gilbert & Sullivan operas. Forthcoming and recent productions include Iolanthe (2017) and Pirates of Penzance (2013) for G&SOV, Utopia Limited (2016) and Yeomen of the Guard (2013) for Savoynet at the G & S Festival, Harrogate.

Dr. Mimi Colligan

Mimi240x240Mimi writes on 19th-century popular culture and biography. Part of her Ph.D thesis was published by MUP as Canvas Documentaries in 2002. Mimi is a Fellow of the RHSV, an Adjunct Research Fellow with the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University and former member of the Victorian Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography. In 2012-13 she curated an exhibition on the history of Melbourne's theatres for the RHSV and  published a biography Circus and Stage about Mr and Mrs G.B.W. Lewis who, in the 1860s and 1870s, took theatre from Melbourne to China and India.

Howard CordnerHoward Cordner

Howard runs an accountancy practice in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. He has been a member of the committee and treasurer for over eight years.


Peter Johnson FRAIA RIBA

Peter JohnsonPeter was chairman of the ALSO Foundation’s Special Events Committee which produced the legendary Red Raw and Winterdaze warehouse dance parties from 1992 until 2000. In 1995, acting as honorary architect, he was responsible for the conversion of Shed 14 at Docklands into a permanent performance venue. He has undertaken extensive research into the work of his great great grandfather and Australian’s most prolific colonial theatre architect George R. Johnson (1840-1898). He also co-ordinates an architectural theatre study group at the SLV. Peter is a heritage consultant and valuer of architectural documents for the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

Elisabeth Kumm

Elisabeth is a founding member of the Victoria Theatres Trust. Her series Pets of the Public has been a regular feature of On Stage since 1999 and comprises profiles of theatrical personalities from the nineteenth century, including Kyrle Bellew and Mrs Brown Potter, Julius Knight and Olga Nethersole. As a theatrical historian and biographer she assisted Lady Tait with her book on pantomime – Dames, Principal Boys…and All That, published by Macmillan in 2001 and also worked with her on her as yet unpublished memoirs I Have a Song to Sing. Elisabeth is currently researching the Brough and Boucicault Comedy Company, an important but forgotten theatrical troupe that was active in Australia from the mid-1880s.

Judy Leech

Judy LeechJudy has had a twenty-two year career at the ABC Television Studios as a graphic designer (working on dramas such as Rush, Power without Glory, Embassy, Phoenix, many Children's and Education Series, in particular the iconic Adventure Island, along with ballet productions including Fool on the Hill, Pineapple Poll, and Lady and the Fool) with occasional forays into children’s book illustration. This was followed by ten years working with the Rex Reid Dance Company on costume, set and props design. Since the late 1990s Judy has been closely involved, in a design capacity, with many of the annual musicals and dramas presented by Melbourne High School and MacRobertson Girls' School.  Judy joined the committee in 2012.

simon 130Simon Piening

Simon is the Director of Australian Stage Online, an online media outlet for the performing arts in Australia, which he founded in 2005. He completed a BA in Performing Arts in 1991 and has worked extensively as an actor and director. He completed post graduate studies in Arts Management at the VCA/University of Melbourne, and spent a number of years working as assistant manager at an outer metropolitan performing arts venue. He holds a Master of Communications and is currently completing a PhD in audience development. He joined the THA committee in 2016.

Frank Van Straten OAM

Frank Van StratenOver the years Frank has amassed a vast collection of Australian theatre memorabilia. He was director of the Victorian Arts Centre Performing Arts Museum from 1984 until 1993. For 15 years Frank researched and presented ABC Radio’s popular Nostalgia feature over Melbourne’s 774. He contributes historical articles to many theatre programs and journals. His books include National Treasure: The Story of Gertrude Johnson and the National Theatre (1994), The Regent Theatre: Melbourne’s Palace of Dreams (1996), Tivoli (2003), Huge Deal: The Fortunes and Follies of Hugh D. McIntosh (2004) and Florence Young and the Golden Years of Australian Musical Theatre (2009).

Delia Taylor 

Delia is a heritage architect working for Places Victoria. She has been involved in the organisation since its beginnings in 1995.

 Officeholders and committee members are elected by the membership every year at our AGM in March. If you would like to nominate for the committee or act as an officeholder please complete this nomination form.

A proxy form for use at annual, general and special meetings can be downloaded using this link.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 19:01

Past issues

 This document lists all the past issues that were produced in print from 1999-2012. Click in the 'file' column to download. Once downloaded these files are text searchable individually.

Also the Prahran Mechanics Institute has kindly indexed this series. To do a global search, go to advanced search in their catalogue. Add 'On Stage' in the Title field and then in the Other field add your search term. You will then be able to search across all issues.


Volume   Season  FileVolume   Season  File
1 Summer 1999-1        8 Summer  2007-1
Autumn 2000-2 Autumn  2007-2
Winter 2000-3 Winter  2007-3
Spring 2000-4 Spring  2007-4
2 Summer 2001-1  9 Summer  2008-1
Autumn 2001-2 Autumn  2008-2
Winter 2001-3 Winter  2008-3
Spring 2001-4 Spring  2008-4
3 Summer 2002-1 10  Summer  2009-1
Autumn 2002-2 Autumn  2009-2
Winter 2002-3 Winter  2009-3
Spring 2002-4 Spring  2009-4
 4 Summer  2003-1 11  Summer  2010-1
Autumn  2003-2 Autumn  2010-2
Winter  2003-3 Winter  2010-3
Spring  2003-4 Spring  2010-4
 5 Summer  2004-1 12  Summer  2011-1


Autumn  2011-2
Winter  2004-3 Winter  2011-3
Spring  2004-4 Spring 


Summer  2005-1 13  Summer  2012-1
Autumn  2005-2 Autumn  2012-2
Winter  2005-3 Winter  2012-3
Spring  2005-4 Spring  2012-4 
7 Summer  2006-1
Autumn  2006-2
Winter 2006-3
Spring 2006-4
Friday, 01 March 2013 11:00



reprinted from the Argus, Monday 22 April 1889, p.6

(The theatre was destroyed by fire on the evening of 22 April, 1889)

The Bijou Theatre was crowded in every part on Saturday night to welcome the return of Mr. Brough and Mr. Boucicault with their comedy company. The piece chosen for the occasion was Burnand's comedy "Betsy," which was first introduced to the Melbourne public by the late Mr. F. Marshall, when he assumed the management of the old Princess's Theatre. His reproduction was exceedingly well received and the appearance of each and every member of the company was greeted with hearty applause, special receptions being accorded to Mr and Mrs. Brough, Mr. Boucicault, and Mr. Titheradge.

Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00

Bijou Theatre Fire


- reprinted form the Argus 24.04.1889, p.5.


The main topic of conversation yesterday was the burning or the Bijou Theatre, and all day long crowds visited the scene of the disaster. Barriers were erected in Little Collins street on either side of the theatre, the condition of the south gable wall being considered too dangerous to allow any traffic to pass.


Thursday, 30 August 2012 16:44




THA would like to acknowledge the generous support from the following organisations:


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