Person - Montgomery Stuart

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For the Workers Art Club Montgomery Stuart recited “The Congo” at its official opening in October 1932, and in 1934 he directed The Dream Girl and Ile for the club. By this time he was an older Shakespearean actor who gave tips on voice, taught elocution, public speaking (he said he taught wharfies) and dramatic art, ran the Montgomery Stuart Amateur Players, and had a stock of party-piece verse-speaking poems including “Enoch Arden”, “The Congo” and Tennyson’s “<Come into the garden> Maud”.

John Montgomerie Stuart was born at Beaufort near Ballarat to Charles Edward Stuart and Scottish-born Catherine née Bain who married in 1868. He had at least one older sibling: Charles Roderick Bain Stuart, born in 1869 at Byong, another Victorian goldrush town.

As Montgomery Stuart, he studied voice and singing in Melbourne and gained his first professional work with Tom Buckley’s Irish Players. By 1907 he had founded the Lismore Philharmonic Society with whom he conducted and sang while his wife played piano. Ca 1913 he moved to Sydney where he put on specialty evenings devoted to Schubert, Shakespeare and Tennyson. St James Hall was a favoured venue. His roles with Gregan McMahon’s Repertory Players included Sir Daniel Carteret in Henry Arthur Jones’ Mrs Dane’s Defence, Rector Kroll in Ibsen’s Rosmersholm and Andrew Undershaft in Shaw’s Major Barbara.

He often worked with Myra Leard. The pair in 1929 with her pupils staged pieces in his theatre studio in the Royal Arcade Chambers 492 George Street. They worked on the 1930 Junior Red Cross Eisteddfod, and in 1931 Stuart performed comedy sketches for the Women’s Committee Against War benefit at the FOSU Hall organised by Nellie Rickie and he later directed Rickie and Bertha Lawson at St James Hall.

By 1939 Stuart's studio for training in speech and dramatic art, radio and screen techniques had moved to Park View Chambers 179 Elizabeth Street. At the time of his death in 1942 Stuart’s long-term home address was in Avenue Rd Mosman. His widow Edith Mary née Syme died on 22 June 1944. Their son Charles Syme Stuart died in 1970 at St Leonards. A daughter Mary Montgomery Stuart had died on 26 May 1920.

The National Library of Australia holds Stuart's biographical cuttings file.

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