Person - Leslie Rees

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Leslie Rees was a long-term supporter of New Theatre, a regular at opening nights and a financial contributor. He noted in 1987 that he'd been seeing its plays for 50 years. His one-act Sub-Editor’s Room was performed at 36 Pitt St in 1937; he directed a revival in 1939. On 3 September 1939 he and Miles Franklin left a reading of his Lalor of Eureka to hear newsboys announcing that war with Germany had been declared. In 1948 he delivered a lecture to NT members on the role of the theatre critic.

Rees was in 1938 a founder of the Playwrights Advisory Board, its meetings attended by Vic Arnold. Denounced as a Communist by the Independent Theatre's O D Bisset and the British Drama League's Tildesley sisters, Rees said the CPA was not his cup of tea although he had socialist ideas. During the McCarthy period he was bailed up at San Francisco immigration.

Born in Perth WA where his father was a poor alcoholic schoolteacher, Leslie after graduating BA worked as a journalist and drama critic in London. In 1936 he and his writer wife Coralie née Clarke settled in Sydney. He worked for the ABC and wrote reviews, plays, children’s fiction and travel books.

Leslie Rees died on 17 August 2000, survived by his daughters Dymphna Stella (named for Dymphna Cusack and Miles Franklin) and Megan.

There is a lot of material online on Leslie Rees including Wikipedia and Dictionary of Sydney entries. His comprehensive The Making of Australia Drama was published in 1973, and his autobiography Hold Fast to Dreams in 1982. Coralie Rees is the subject of an article in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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