Ailsa Brackley du Bois to Present at History Conference in Venice

Ailsa Brackley du Bois, PhD Candidate in the School of Communication and Creative Arts to present at a History Conference in Venice, Italy.

 In early June, Ailsa is attending a three-day Conference on ‘City, Space and Spectacle in 19th Century Performance.’ It is hosted by Warwick University, England, but will be held at the 15th Century Palazzo Pesaro Pepafava in Venice, Italy. Ailsawas invited to submit a paper, and her submission was accepted for the subject stream: ‘Staging the City & The City as Stage.’

The title of her paper is: ‘The Wild West of Victorian Australia: Theatrical Entertainment & Performative Interaction in 1850s Ballarat.’  The abstract is:

The Australian Victorian Goldfields settlement of 1850s Ballarat was renowned for lively theatrical entertainment involving diverse, multi-ethnic cultural entanglements. Diggers, prospectors, traders, storekeepers and entrepreneurs were joined by roving touring acts, catering for the human throng.

The emerging township along Ballarat’s Main Road, was a site of lively performative interaction. People spilled in and out of makeshift canvas tent theatres, wooden music halls, dirt floor pubs and grog shanties, day and night. The business of everyday lifewas inherently dramatic and performative interaction was an integral part of this heady mix. The emphasis of the paper is firmly on Main Road as a space and place of ‘spectacular’ resonance as it developed a reputation for being the Wild West of Victoria during the mid-Victorian period.

This paper will consider the different forms of interaction and entertainment prevalent at the time. Ultimately, this paper seeks to identify what made Main Road such a ‘spectacular’ space and place, and examines its significance in the formation of Ballarat’s cultural identity. It will be argued that the impact of the dramatic overload of youthful human interaction in and around Main Road in the 1850s was profound, creating legacy effects that continue to this day.

Ailsa will spend one week in Venice, including research excursions to neighbouring Vicenza and Padua. Thereafter, she will spend a week travelling alone by train across Northern Italy, visiting old theatres and sites of public entertainment, in Verona, Bergamo and Milano. On the way over, she will spend four days in Copenhagen, exploring theatres, museums and galleries.


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