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Bryan James (1929-)
Papers on Adelaide theatre and cinema history

MSS 0107

Biographical Note

Bryan Kingsley James was born in Adelaide in 1929 and became interested in theatre from an early age. In 1945 at the age of 16 he became the youngest ever Stage Manager in Australia, working for the touring version of the Tivoli’s “Best Bib and Tucker” starring Dick Bentley. At 21, after five years as a stage manager for a variety of shows, James attempted to revive vaudeville-revue at Adelaide’s Majestic Theatre. He then unsuccessfully tried to find work in London, and spent the next 18 years working for British airlines and indulging his love of travel.

Returning to Adelaide in 1975, James created Group Tour programmes for the RAA Travel Service, eventually becoming Travel Manager. He made a brief return to the theatre working for 2 years as Marketing Manger for the State Theatre Company under John Gaden (1986-1990), then returning to the travel industry. Bryan James is now retired but still travels extensively and attends theatre.

These papers were donated to the Barr Smith Library by Bryan James in July-August 2006, with NZ items added in 2006 and the log book and resume in 2015.

Contents Listing

Series 1 Personal
Profile: Bryan Kingsley James. 1 p.
Log book. "A record of my flights with BOAC & BEA as an air steward, 1954-1960." Includes details of type of plane, captain, stewards, departure and arrival places and times, flying hours and service numbers. With a resume / memoir companion to the log book, with an explanation of some flights (computer printout) 6 p.

Series 2 “The Lost Theatres and Cinemas of Adelaide” 1 folder
“The Lost Theatres and Cinemas of Adelaide: the main highlights year by year” 1908-1913. With an introductory history of Adelaide theatres prior to 1908. Comprises typed notes and photocopied pictures, portraits and advertisements. In ring binder. Includes “Research for a file on Adelaide’s theatres. Working title: The Lost Theatres and Cinemas of Adelaide”. Proposed contents plan of publication with pictures, photocopies and copies of advertisements (some not dated). Forms a concise chronology of Adelaide theatres.

Series 3 “The Regent file1928-1932” 1 folder
Includes: listing of Adelaide cinemas in 1928; photocopied advertisements, newspaper articles, programmes, photographs of exterior and interior of the Regent cinema; file on the history of Hoyts Theatres Ltd; list of films shown at Regent; and notes on films shown; article on Regent’s house curtain; notes on Wurlitzer organ and organists; comparisons with other Adelaide cinemas. Also biography of Vernon James, father of Bryan James and Regent projectionist 1929-30, later Film Inspector for South Australia and projectionist for a variety of cinemas.

Series 4 Photographs
4.1 Theatre Royal, Hindley St. (6 photographs)
4.2 Tivoli Theatre (4 photographs)
4.3 1912 built cinemas: The Pavilion and The Wakefield St Theatre (2 photographs)
4.4 White's Rooms, King William St (later Garner's Theatre, Hudson's Bijou, The (new) Tivoli, Star Theatre, Majestic Theatre, Celebrity Theatre-Restaurant, Warner Theatre)  (3 photographs - White's Rooms, Hudson's Bijou, Majestic interior)
4.5 Wests Olympia (2 photographs)
4.6 Wondograph (3 photographs)
4.7 York Theatre (1 photograph)
4.8 Metro (1 photograph)
4.9 Regent Theatre (3 photographs)
4.10 Festival Theatre from across the Torrens (1 p)hotograph

Series 5 Miscellaneous publications / ephemera
5.1  Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, SA [1962]
[Souvenir magazine designed and written by Charles Dearden of JC Williamson issued to celebrate the opening of Her Majesty’s Theatre. Includes histories of JC Williamsons, the Tivoli Theatre and the Theatre Royal, sketches and description of Her Majesty’s, the 1962 session of the Australian, and photos and histories of musicals presented by Williamson’s]
5.2  JC Williamson Theatres Ltd [1967?]
[Souvenir publication includes brief history of Williamson’s, photos of productions, and photos and specifications of JC Williamson theatres in Australia and NZ]
5.3 The Regent Theatre, Melbourne. Gala reopening 17 August 1996
[Souvenir programme] Also invitation and tickets to the gala reopening, a typescript history of the Regent Theatre, and newspaper clippings from the Adelaide Advertiser and the Weekend Review.
5.4 Your Personal Souvenir of Sydney’s Glorious State Theatre … celebrating the official opening of the Sydney Opera House, Oct. 29 1973 …”
[Souvenir publication containing the history of the State Theatre, Market St, Sydney]
5.5 Stage, Screen and Stars / produced printed by The West Australian [1993?]
[Illustrated history of Western Australian theatrical personalities and venues]
5.6 Programmes

  • Arthur Askey in “The Love Racket”, Tivoli Theatre, Sydney, June 1950
  • “Command Performance”, JC Williamson, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Brisbane, 1950
  • “Best Bib & Tucker”, Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane, July 1947
  • “Can You Take It” starring Bob Dyer, Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane, August 1947
  • Olsen & Johnson’s “Hellzapoppin” starring Bob Dyer, Perth 1948(?)

5.7 Transit in Adelaide: 100 Years Transportation 1878-1978 [pamphlet] Adelaide: State Transport Authority, 1978. Includes a photograph of the old rail viaduct between Lynton and Eden Hills on the Adelaide line.
5.8 New Zealand theatres
Regent Theatre, Dunedin - postcards of foyer and proscenium/stage; printed history and chronology (1 p.)
St James Theatre, Wellington - brass ticket/keyring presented to Elaine Paige for the gala opening concert 'Elaine paige in Concert' 5/2/1998.

Series 6 Posters (housed in Map Cabinet)
6.1 Copy of the original poster of Warner Bros. movie “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson (1927)
6.2 World premier of the first stage version of “Singing in the Rain”, London Palladium, starring Tommy Steele (1983)
6.3  “Norway” cruise ship (1980?) – the largest cruise ship in the world at the time.
6.4 Trans-Australian Railway (Commonwealth Railways, 1930s), 6 posters (reproductions)

Cheryl Hoskin
April 2008, May 2016



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