‘Professor’ Thomas Rea, ventriloquist

This broadsheet/poster advertising the ‘Splendid Entertainment’ offered by Professor Rea, ‘Ventriloquist and Mimic’ was an enclosure to a letter from ‘Thomas Rea seeking permission to perform.

The Colonial Secretary was responsible for controlling live performances. Thomas Rea, like others seeking to present entertainments, had to apply to the Colonial Secretary for permission for a theatrical license. In this case, the performance was to take place in Port Phillip (now Melbourne, Victoria) in 1846; which at the time was still part of New South Wales.
On the broadsheet/poster advertising his performance Professor Rea prominently features ‘V R’ and the Royal Coat of Arms to indicate he has performed before Royalty. He also advertises that there will not be any indelicacy ‘by which the morals of the young may be contaminated’.
Little is known of the mysterious Professor Rea. In addition to his ventriloquist act, he appears to have offered as entertainment the sight of him ascending in a hot air balloon. His various performances seem to have taken place in Launceston and Melbourne in late 1845 and early 1846.


Source: NRS 905 Colonial Secretary Main series of letters received, 1826-1982 Letter No. 46/1123 [4/2741.4]

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