University anniversaries

Jubilee celebrations 1902

Performance by the University Dramatic Society, 29 September 1902

Before the official Jubilee proceedings began there was a performance by the University Dramatic Society in the Palace Theatre in Pitt Street, at 2.30pm on Monday 29 September 1902, under the auspices of the University Union.

Click here for a photo of the Palace Theatre in 1929.

Mr Norman Gough's new one-act play "The Threshold" and Sheridan's famous p'ece "The Critic" were performed.

Miss Frances Ruttledge, Mr L Sidney, Mr W J Creagh and the author paid the cost of staging "The Threshold".

Description by the SMH, 30 September 1902

The large audience included His Excellency the Governor, Lady Hawson and suite, as well as some scores of students in the gallery. Had the last-named contingent behaved as reasonably during the second piece as they did during the first the afternoon's programme would have been more generally enjoyed than it was. Fortunately " The Threshold," an original one-act play by Norman Clough, was granted a fair hearing. The action shows how the silver key which Athenais, the youthful wife of the elderly Comte de Braganza, is sending to her admiring young neighbour, the Marquis de Pavanne, is intercepted by the unexpected return from Pans of her husband, who is thus in the chateau to receive his rival. Athenais finds time to declare her passionate love for the Marquis before he retires into the adjoining picture gallery to fight a duel with the Vicomte. A shot is heard, Athenais stands in agonised suspense, and as the curtain slowly falls, the husband appears unhurt in the doorway.

The value of the little piece consisted chiefly in its literary merit, the dialogue, slightly influenced by the style of Bulwer Lytton being marked by many felicitous turns of expression In the interview between the two men before the duel. However, both characters indulged too much in the same style of sentimental philosophy, and at this point the want of contrast obviously weakened the effect The honours of the acting were carried off by Miss Frances Ruttledge (of the Bland Holt Dramatic Company), who played the part of Athenais with an assumption of youthful exuberance that gave it just the needed animation. Miss Ruttledge possessed, moreover, all the needed distinction of manner, and must now be recognised as a clever high comedy actress. Mr Norman Gough, as the husband, delivered his lines well in the situation where he warns his rival that the survivor in the fight will "pass over the threshold of life through a mist of blood, and with the lamp of innocence burnt out"'. Mr L Sidney played with some aplomb as the Marquis, and Mr W T Creagh was an almost tearfully devoted and sympathetic steward. At the close the author was warmly recalled.

The performance of "The Critic" which followed, was much spoiled by a constant fire of boisterous jokes and cat-calls from the gallery, so that not more than half of Sheridan's farce was audible. The play had been ably rehearsed under the direction of Mr William Holman (coach to the University Dramatic Society), and the efforts of the amateurs certainly deserved more genial recognition. A long cast included Mr Stuart Kay as Dangle, Mr J P Jones as Sneer, Mr H de Liassa as Sir Fretful Plagiary, Mr Norman Gough as Puff, Miss Elsie Dumalo as Tilburina, and Miss Ruby Ward as the Confidant. Mr B Stevenson conducted tho orchestra.