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Theatre programmes

The Library collects all manner of programmes, handbills, brochures and postcards associated with live performance in Victoria (and performances by Victorians interstate and overseas). We also collect theatrical ephemera with links to Victoria, such as the 1885 silk programme for The rocket, featuring English actor Edward Terry, who then toured Australia in 1893. 

The bulk of this material resides in the theatre programme collection, home to more than 48,000 programmes covering opera, dance, music, circus, comedy and puppetry.

Theatre programmes, often of great interest to historians, curators and genealogists, provide a wealth of information about theatre and associated topics, including:

  • actors, directors and producers
  • companies
  • venues
  • advertising and design
  • publishing.

We have material on all sorts of performances, whether professional or amateur, and coverage ranges from historic to contemporary. While most items date from the 20th century, programmes from earlier years are represented too. The unusual fan-shaped programme for School for scandal, for example, is dated 1869. 

There are also programmes in the personal papers of theatrical identities and organisations in our manuscripts collection.

For a complete overview of all our theatre holdings you can use our Performance in Victoria research guide.

More to explore