Australasian Convention 9 – 11 July 1999 in Melbourne, VIC

   Posted by: Julia Redlich   in

It hardly seems any time since the Victorian and NSW Branches of The Richard III Society met for the memorable weekend in Canberra, but two years later, here we were again, this time at Trinity College, Melbourne University.

The intrepid band of NSW members arrived late on Friday, July 9, and met up with our colleagues from South Australia.  No-one was surprised when NSW chairperson Kevin Herbert acquired some wine and nibblies so we could celebrate the meeting.   Then it was off to sleep in our allotted rooms which varied from regimented order which inspired salutes on entering to popstar crazy posters in others, and in one room, a display of glasses of all shapes and sizes, plus a battalion of bottles holding the wherewithal to fill them!  (We didn’t touch them, promise!)

The next morning the conference began in earnest with the arrival of the Melbourne-based troops.  Chairman Michael Iliffe welcomed us all, and the first session was a talk on – what else? – the Princes in the Tower.  This all-important subject was followed by two short talks on medieval coins – money is a always interesting, but this was fascinating – and the Origins of the White Rose, given by NSW’s own Eileen Larbalastier, which was very well received.

After lunch, Michael Iliffe held us enthralled with his description, maps and diagrams of the Battle of Ferrybridge, which took place just before the Battle of Towton, and, after tea, there was a play-reading of Loyalty Lies.  This had been written by a USA member, who had asked for it to be taped to enable any revisions to be made.  This was an intriguing look at the days before and just after Richard’s accession – and the twist at the end was terrific!

Then it was time for dinner, and after that four NSW members scuttled off to reappear in the common room where everyone else was quaffing wine around a roaring fire.  Yes, it was show time!  Eileen Larbalastier, Julia Redlich, Elaine Third and Derek Todd proceeded to present a series of irreverent interviews, songs and sketches to an appreciative audience.  The finale was a melodrama, Richard’s Revenge, which featured a sword fight, several bodies, Richard auditioning for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Derek doing his barrister bit and Elaine in a policeman’s helmet.  The evening concluded with a sing-along of Stanley’s Song to the tune of The Vicar of Bray – “and whatsoever king may reign, I’ll still be the Earl of Derby!”

Sunday saw the two final sessions of the gathering.  Robert Bender gave a well researched talk about Thomas Bettson.  The letters involved (including one from Richard, Duke of Gloucester) were fascinating, giving a wonderful glimpse of everyday life in the later 1400s.  Look out Pastons’ fans!  The Lisa Reid spoke about that very important and mysterious young man, Perkin Warbeck.  His portrait shows a close affinity to Edward IV, but was he one of the missing sons – or another royal bastard?  Where did he come from?  The final talk was from NSW’s Julia Redlich, on Richard III and how he has been portrayed on stage throughout the ages.  Surprisingly, although Shakespeare’s Richard is the best known, plenty of other playwrights have found him – like us – to be an intriguing subject.

So, in all too short a time, the gathering of the Ricardians was over and many thanks to the Victorian Branch for their organization and welcome.  In 2001 Adelaide will host the meeting and those of us who made it to Melbourne are already saving up for the airfare!  The meeting of like minds and the good fellowship and enjoyment is something not to be missed.  See you there!

by Julia Redlich (NSW)