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Anne Clarke (theatre manager)

Anne Clarke née Remans (1806 - fl. 1847), was an Australian stage actor, singer and theatre manager. She was the first woman to manage an Australian theatre as the director of Theatre Royal, Hobart in 1840-1847. She had a significant role in the development of the early theatre in Tasmania and Australia.

LifeEdit

Anne Clarke arrived in Hobart in Tasmania in 1834, engaged to perform at the company of J. P. Deane at the Theatre Royal, Hobart, which was however then still under construction (it was not to open until 1837).

She arrived in Tasmania just one year after the introduction of professional theater in Tasmania by the travelling company of Samuel Cameron and Cordelia Cameron from England, and only two years after the first professional theatre performed in Australia (at Barnett Levey's Royal Hotel in Sydney in December 1832),[1] making her one of the first professional actors active in Australia.

She and another actress, Dinah Rudelhoff (later director of the Geelong Theatre in 1845), was advertised to appear on stage in Hobart that summer, and were both referred to as experienced actors: "Annette—Miss Remens, Peggy—Miss Rudelhoff (from the Theatre Royal English Opera House [London], being their first appearance on this stage)."

Anne Clarke married Michael Clarke. She performed in the theatre company of Samuel Cameron in 1834-36 and that of his rival John Meredith in 1836-40. In April 1840, she became the manager of Theatre Royal. Though Cordelia Cameron managed the theatre in Launceston in 1836 and was as such the first woman theatre director in Australia de facto, Cameron only did so as the proxy of her spouse during his absence, and Clarke was thereby the first woman to have formally been theatre director in Australia.

She recruited new actors from England in 1841–42, composed of Jerome Carandini, Theodosia Stirling, John Howson and Frank Howson. By importing professional actors, she is regarded to have established acting as a respectable profession for both sexes in Australia. By advertising for respectable women interested in becoming actors, and giving them training, she introduced a new profession for women in the colony. The actors of her company somewhat became the pioneer Australian actor generation, many of whom moved on to careers in Melbourne and Sydney.

She was highly recommended for her work, credited by the press with introducing 'a better class of performer and a superior style of management'[2] and for giving theatre, which was then regarded as somewhat dubious, a good name. In July 1842, she applied Parliament for an official government license for her theatre, thereby separating it from other places of entertainment and making it a respected institution: in September that year, the "Act for regulating Places of Public Entertainment and for punishing Persons Keeping disorderly Houses.", was passed. She is credited for having given the foundation for professional music life in the colony. The contemporary press credited her for her work developing the cultural life in the colony. She was regarded as an efficient businessperson and a progressive artist.

Despite her good critic and artistic success, however, the colony was small and the theatre was still forced to struggle with its economy. Anne Clarke retired in 1847. She was by then separated from her spouse. Her later life is unknown. In the 1860s her theatre was still regarded as the role model for theatre life in the colony.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Richard Fotheringham, Angela Turner: Australian Plays for the Colonial Stage: 1834-1899
  2. ^ E Webby, 'Anne Clarke', in P Parsons (ed), Companion to theatre in Australia, Sydney, 1995.