When the British began transporting convicts to Australia, the convicts had been allowed to find their own accommodations. But by the early 1800s it was decided to house them in a barracks to increase their productivity and improve moral character. The Hyde Park Barracks were built for that purpose. Ironically it was designed by convict architect Francis Greenway. And, it was also of course built by convict labor. Touring the facility was a moving and sad experience. At times as many as 1400 men lived here in a space built for 600. In 1840 convicts were no longer transported, but over the next four years over 2000 orphan girls were transported and housed here. They were brought from the work houses of famine-plagued Ireland. The upper class, landed Brits were a cruel bunch. The museum has been extensively restored and conserved using innovative methods to show the history of the building. Relics found during the excavations are on display with panoramas that explain life here. Most moving was the room the girls slept in with trinkets they had hidden under floor boards.
We returned to the Opera House tonight for Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. It was in the smaller Playhouse. As sometimes happens with Shakespeare, the production was set in modern times with modern dress. Cleopatra was portrayed as a wicked, sharped tongued spoiled bully. I prefer Elizabeth Taylor’s refrained and aloft regal version. Plus her make up was more better. The set was very inventive with sheer curtains opening and closing to indicate scene changes. Digital script was projected onto the curtains to indicate time and place prior to each scene change. Great fun! It was interesting how they portrayed Marc Antony as a spoiled child besotted by Cleopatra. Two of the minor characters, Ptolemy (played by a woman) and Enobarbus were the best actors in the play. Pictures at flickr.