‘Make Do and Mend’: Civilian and Military Audiences in Australian Popular Entertainment During the Pacific War of 1942–1945
During World War 2 the Australian region experienced unprecedented internal and transnational migrations of female and male civilians both urban and rural, caused by the social conditions of universal national military and labour conscription. During the Pacific War of 1942–1945 mainland Australia became an American supply and training base. Although different urban and rural regions experienced it in specific ways, the wartime imaginary put prevailing concepts of race, masculinity and femininity under intense pressure. These were managed by a hugely expanded popular variety entertainment industry which recombined aspects of Australian, British and American popular culture into an influential new ‘national’ wartime identity. The theatrical practices of the dominant Tivoli organisation reveal how popular theatre expressed and profited from these new gendered demographics and social priorities. In responding to a historically unprecedented wartime audience base—and a national emergency—professional variety created its own transformative concept of national conscription as a willing worker in the war effort.