About The Nightclub and the Opera House: International Touring and Entrepreneurial Diplomacy in the Asia Pacific Region


This lecture is part of the series Feeble or forceful? Reappraising the 1950s in Australian performance, convened by Dr Chris Hay. Please register below based on if you would like to attend in-person or online. 

Between the 1950s and the 1970s, governments across Asia and the Pacific invested in the construction of civic theatres. Built to showcase the artistic achievements and cultural traditions of city-states and nations, these theatres also provided platforms for international exchange. How was the promotion of national distinction in government-constructed theatres related to the regional network of international touring? Comparing simultaneous developments in Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila and Taipei, this illustrated presentation traces unexpected continuities in architectural design, entrepreneurial endeavour, and arts programming between government-built theatres and the region’s commercial nightclubs. I argue that, whatever their architectural distinction, the region’s ‘national’ theatres continued a series of functionally equivalent containers for touring that the nightclubs on commercial circuits had introduced.


Date: Friday 20 August 2021

Time: 12–1pm

Online: Register below for the Zoom link and password

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Jonathan Bollen is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies in the School of the Arts and Media at UNSW Sydney. His research in theatre studies is about performance, mobility and desire. Recently, he has been studying the regional development of international touring, entrepreneurial diplomacy and commercial entertainment by mapping the touring circuits that stretched across Asia and the Pacific in the 1950s and 1960s. He is the author of Touring Variety in the Asia Pacific Region, 1946–1975 (2020) and co-author of A Global Doll's House: Ibsen and Distant Visions (2016) and Men at Play: Masculinities in Australian Theatre since the 1950s (2008).