When my father, Frank Rouse, was young - around 17 to 19 years of age in the early 1950s, he was a member of the Repertory Society or Dramatic Society in Bunyip. The Company put on plays at the Bunyip Hall and the Cora Lynn Hall. The plays were usually two acts long, with an interval. Dad doesn’t remember the names of any of the plays but in one play he played the role of an English gentleman on a train who kept getting off the train at the wrong station and in another he played the role of a Minister of Religion.
The Society had maybe 15 to 20 members who also made the stage sets; Dad built the train for the train play.
His acting career started largely because he had the essential attributes of being young, male, tall and willing. Another member of the Society was Win Reid who taught Dad at Sunday School at Cora Lynn and she organised the Sunday school concerts and also taught elocution and encouraged Dad to join the Repertory Society. It was a short lived acting career which was fun while it lasted and he still remembers the advice he was given which was ‘to speak to the back row, so your voice carries’
Other members of the Society were Hughie Pound who ran the Radio store in Bunyip, where Loretta’s Hairdressing is now located; Colin Flett who had a general store, with a good range of hardware, where the Bendigo Bank is; Frank Harker who lived on the Eleven Mile at Cora Lynn (all that remains of his house are the two palm trees in the paddock); Don and Pat Whysall – Don was in the Fire Brigade and Pat was a teacher; Betty Storey who lived on Murray Road, a neighbour of the Rouses; Dad’s oldest sister Nancy; Nelly Dixon (nee Edis) married to Geoff Dixon, who was a builder; Russell and Elizabeth Spence - remembered as ‘an older couple’ and Arthur Holgate, who was ‘quite old’. Mr Holgate was the local Registrar of Births and Deaths and is remembered in our family because he incorrectly registered the date of my sister Megan’s birth in February 1957. He wrote the registration date down as the birth date and we didn’t find out until she had to apply for a birth certificate 20 or so years later.
Denise Nest has a paragraph about the Dramatic Society in her book, The Call of the Bunyip: history of Bunyip, Iona and Tonimbuk 1847 to 1900.. She mentions a few other names apart from the ones Dad remembers - Rex Taylor and members of the Thomas and Roberts families.
About this blog
This blog is about the history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and neighbouring areas, such as Pakenham, Cranbourne and Garfield, and any other historical subjects I feel like writing about. It's my own original research and writing and if you live in the area you may have read some of the stories before in the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society newsletter or the Koo-Wee-Rup township newsletter, The Blackfish, or the Garfield township newsletter, The Spectator.