King Henry the eighth. William Shakespeare. (Dunedin Shakespeare Club). Burns Hall, Dunedin, Aug. 25, 1910.
The Dunedin Shakespeare Club was founded in 1877 and made its first appearance in a reading of Hamlet. Early members and performers included Alfred Burton, of the Burton Brothers photography firm, and the eminent lawyer Alfred Hanlon. In its early years, all readings, including female roles, were performed by men - Mr Burton was renowned as capable of assuming a very delicate air. The Club held regular public readings for decades, and by the early 1960s it was the oldest dramatic society in New Zealand, and the oldest Shakespeare-reading society in the Commonwealth.
In his ‘Memory Lane’ column, Gordon Parry reminisced about readings he attended in the late 1940s in the Concert Chamber, where “those taking part stood on stage, men in dinner jackets, women in long dark frocks. It was all taken very seriously … though there were no costumes and no sets.”