05 June, 2014

Cross-over Artists:

The international careers of early twentieth-century theatre artists between stage, microphone and camera

A Symposium to be held at the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies, Millburn House, University of Warwick,

23 – 24 July 2014

An investigation emerging from, and extending the focus of, the Leverhulme-funded Research Project British-Australian Cultural Exchange: Live Performance 1880-1960. Papers will be pre-circulated to attendees and the symposium will take the form of discussion sessions chaired by a moderator.

The focus of our meeting is on the international mobility of individuals or performing groups whose careers also shift between theatrical and other media. Theatrical workers born after the 1880s are historically unique. During the half-century 1900-1950 their skills – whether as performers, composers, musicians, choreographers, scenic and costume artists, directors or lighting designers – were often called upon to support the new technologies of the mass media of sound recording, cinema and radio. With their vastly increased potential to reach international audiences, technology and mass communications might now convey into every corner of the globe the voices, sounds, images or bodies of individuals trained in widely differing traditions, and of national origins possibly far removed from those of their global audiences. While these performers and their fellow artists might be grounded in various live forms of dramatic, musical and variety theatre, dance or circus, their careers in the new mass media make them the pioneer ‘cross-over artists’. 

Speakers include

Simon J. Potter, University of Bristol, ‘Public Broadcasting and International Mobility: Britain and the Commonwealth, c. 1922-1970’

Jeffrey Richards, University of Lancaster, ‘Peter Dawson, Imperial Patriotism and Musical Reciprocity’


Veronica Kelly, University of Queensland, ‘“A wonderful party”: Noel Coward’s multi-mediatised mission to Australia, 1940’

Nic Leonhardt, LMU, Munich, ‘“The Globe Trotting Amusement Explorer”: Cross-over Artist and Agent Richard Pitrot (1852-1929)’

Martina Lipton, University of Queensland, ‘The challenges of modernity for professional pantomime and its stars on the Australian stage, 1920-60’


Jim Davis, University of Warwick, ‘Robert Helpmann: A Cross-over Artist par excellence?’

Patricia Smyth, University of Warwick, ‘National Landscapes from Stage to Screen: Australia and Ireland’

The symposium will conclude with a roundtable discussion.

The Symposium will commence late afternoon on Wednesday 23 July and continue through Thursday 24 July. There will be a registration fee of £20 (£10 for postgraduates), payable on the day. Accommodation is available on campus.

For more information about the symposium, please contact Patricia Smyth,


This Symposium is supported by the Warwick Humanities Research Fund and the Warwick Research Development Fund.

Stay up to date with the IFTR Weekly Digest