A Spectacular Arrival

Performing Arts Collection team member Bridget MacLeod is shown here with the spectacles at our off-site collection storage facility.

The character of Dame Edna Everage was first introduced to audiences over fifty years ago as a humble housewife and has since developed into an internationally recognised megastar. Tailor-made spectacles have been an iconic part of Dame Edna’s character and image for many years. Nothing charts the rise of Edna’s star like her costumes, which have become progressively more outrageous over time.

These spectacular pink spectacles have been generously donated to the Performing Arts Collection by Barry Humphries. Humphries has regularly donated material to the Collection over the past twenty years, resulting in a large and comprehensive archive documenting his artistic endeavors on stage, film and television through programmes, posters, photographs, scripts and correspondence.

Included in the Performing Arts Collection are paintings and drawings executed by Humphries from the 1940s through to the 1960s, and over 90 costumes worn by Dame Edna Everage, Sir Les Patterson and Sandy Stone.

These gigantic spectacles were part of a stage design by acclaimed theatre designer Brian Thomson for the Dame’s Back with a Vengeance tour. Edna made a dazzling entrance by being lowered to the stage atop the spectacles; which measure a huge 6.7m wide by 2.7m high. Back with a Vengeance premiered in New York in 2004, before touring North America from 2005-2006 and Australia from 2006-2007. The spectacles also add to the existing collection documenting Brian Thomson’s career that is held in the Performing Arts Collection.

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