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Essendon Red Cross Society

Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 6 years, 1 month ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918





Town Hall, Moonee Ponds,Wednesday 25th October 1916


In aid of the YMCA Service Fund


Gift Performance of an entirely original Australian comedy, in Three Acts, entitled

"Before the Dawn"

By Jo. Smith


Cover of the program, from the State Library of Victoria Collection.


Cover of the program, from the State Library of Victoria Collection.


Program courtesy of Margery Burston.


The pages of The Argus reveal these known performances of this play:


  • St Kilda Town Hall 29 September 1915
  • The Auditorium, Collins St, Melbourne 18 December 1915
  • The Playhouse, Princes Bridge, 4 & 5 October 1916
  • Essendon Town Hall, 25 October 1916
  • Hawthorn Win-the-War fete, April 1917




His Excellency the State Governor and Lady Stanley have accorded their patron age to the entertainment in the St Kilda Town Hall on Wednesday evening, September 29, in aid of the Sick and Wounded Soldiers' Fund, on which occasion Mr Jo Smith's new Australian three act comedy, "Before the Dawn " will be produced for the first time. Owing to the generous support of several sympathisers of the fund, Mr Smith is able to announce that no expenses will be debited to the performance and the entire gross proceeds will be handed to the St Kilda Red Cross Committee.  

The Argus 9 September 1915





Mr. Jo Smith's comedy "Before the Dawn " had a very hearty reception by   an audience that filled the St Kilda Town Hall last night, when its first performance took place. The piece has been written for the purpose of aiding the Australian Wounded Soldiers' Fund, and the proceeds from last night's presentation and each subsequent one will be given to that object.

The gossamer plot keeps on comedy level throughout, even where it does not attempt to approach any of the emotions, its light- some character does not permit of any serious consideration. Briefly stated, two prying aunts have found a mysterious document in a cabinet, the contents of which imperil the marriage of a youthful couple, as they come within the "man may not marry" enumerations of the prayer book. The aunts, in conjunction with an uncle attempt to break off the match by the usual devices of the stage, such as heart disease of the girl, and the process known as "cutting off with a shilling " of the young man. An untamed curate of the "Private Secretary" species adds the farcical aspect, and a rose-grower the more earnest character of the action. The author was quite at home in the part of Jack Holroyd, whose future enemies, the meddlesome uncle and aunts, are attempting to mould in their own short-sighted way. The Misses Jessie Wilson and Ethel Montague neatly sketched the frayed and time-worn elderly ladies, who are at their happiest in futile attempts at the herculean task of separating the young and loving couple Miss Maisie Smith and Miss Stella Richards made capable ingenues, and Mr T K Boyd created rather a new breed of Australian pastoralist. Mr Arthur Coppin kept his flower growing hobby on the sombre side, Mr R G Newson dealt angularly with the case of the Rev Gerald Brampton, and Mr E A Smith as Holroyd's chum inclined to solemnity. The staging was excellent and the appreciation of the friendly house unstinted. The Zingan Amateur Orchestra kindly supplied the musical programme.

The Argus 30 September 1915




A highly successful interpretation of Mr Jo Smith s amusing playlet, "Before the Dawn" was presented at the Auditorium   on Saturday evening. Though the attendance may be described as good, public patronage might well have been accorded in greater measure inasmuch as the entire takings were to go to a fund for the purpose of building winter huts for soldiers on Gallipoli, performers orchestra, and the front of house staff all giving their services to further this object.

One of the greatest successes of the evening was the portrait presented by Mr Claude Thomas of the ultra polite though maladroit curate. Miss Linda Carver made a charming Phyllis and the author, Mr Jo Smith, a breezy and boyish hero, equally convincing in the lighter parts  and in the dramatic touches with which the piece is sown. Miss Ethel Montague, as the elder and sterner of the two spinster aunts, provided much entertainment, while Miss Jessie Wilson as her sister success fully portrayed the part. Mr S H Henry made a bluff and irascible station owner and in minor roles Miss Maisie Smith, Mr Arthur Coppin and Mr E A Smith helped materially in the production. The selections and incidental music by the Y M C A Orchestra added much to the   evening's enjoyment. 

Mr C F Crosbie, president of the Y M C A, took advantage of an interval to move a vote of thanks to all helpers. He mentioned that from Egypt he had been asked to raise £25 000, and he added that, thanks to aid from various sources, that objective was in sight. The vote was carried with acclamation and at the close of the performance the ladies of the company received a number of floral offerings.

The Argus 20 December 1915



Comfort Depots
To assist the comforts fund of Colonel Tivey's Brigade- the 8th Brigade, 29th and 3lst Battalions - a performance of the Australian comedy "Before the Dawn", will be given in the Playhouse, Prince's Bridge on Wednesday October 4, at 8 pm under the patronage of their excellencies the Governor-General and Lady Helen Munro Ferguson and His Excellency the State Governor and Lady Stanley. Tickets at 3/ and 2 are now available at the Brigade Depot, No 45 Elizabeth street, and seats may be booked at Glen's on the September 22.   The expenses of the production have been generously given to the fund by Mr J Smith, the author and producer of the play. 

The Argus 20 September 1916



"Before the Dawn."

Her Excellency Lady Helen Munro Ferguson was present at the performance of this original Australian comedy last night, at the Playhouse, in aid of the 8th Brigade Comforts Fund. The author of The comedy (Mr. Jo. Smith) wrote it as a contribution to patriotic funds, for which he has already by its performance earned some hundreds of pounds, which he hopes to swell to at least £1,000 ere long. He himself defrays all the costa of the production, even to the hire of the theatre, and he and his daughter fill principal parts. The comedy goes with a good swing now that it has been played so frequently. It was at first intended to confine the pro- duction to one night, but there was such an overflow demand for seats that the comedy is to be repeated to-night at the same place and for the same object.

The Argus 5 October 1916



The play, "Before the Dawn," by Mr. J. Smith, has proved such a valuable medium for raising money that the author is kept busy responding to the appeals of patriotic committees. The next movement to be aided by its presentation is a wln-the-war fete organised by Hawthorn citizens.
The Argus 25 April 1917 


The author of the play Joseph (Jo) Smith was a warehouseman, probably working for or owning the firms which sponsored the printing of the program, Richmond Furnishing Co and the Smith Furnishing Co.


Between 1909 and 1931 he was living in Elizabeth Street, Elsternwick with his wife Ray Lilian Smith.  He lodged copyright copies of his plays with the Australian government, and these can be found in the National Archives of Australia catalogue. The 1936 Electoral  Roll shows that by then the Smiths had moved to Glyndbourne Ave Toorak, where Joseph was listed as a 'director'.



Program courtesy of Margery Burston.


Cover of the program, from the State Library of Victoria Collection.


Program courtesy of Margery Burston.



Cover of the program, from the State Library of Victoria Collection.



Cover of the program, from the State Library of Victoria Collection.


Cover of the program, from the State Library of Victoria Collection.



Cover of the program, from the State Library of Victoria Collection.


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