Black and white photograph of a row of shopfronts. One facade reads "Theatre Royal: Open Every Evening".
Theatre Royal, Sydney, King St. Entrance in 1882, nla.obj-137238900

In 1789, a year after the arrival of the First Fleet, a play was performed on Gadigal Country, Sydney - George Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer (1706). A purpose-built theatre opened in Sydney in January 1796. Convicts organised and performed varied programs for several years. From the 1830s new theatres opened in Sydney and Hobart, and from the 1840s in Melbourne.

This following image is of a simple flyer advertising a long evening’s entertainment at Sydney’s theatre: a play (Nicholas Rowe’s Tragedy of Jane Shore), a farce and a dance. The earliest known document printed in Australia, it was discovered in Canada in 2007. The performers, all convicts, organised everything themselves. 

Copy of a printed playbill containing details for a performance of Jane Shore at the Sydney Theatre in 1796.
George Hughes (Government Printer), Playbill for a performance of Jane Shore, The Wapping Landlady and The Miraculous Cure at the Theatre, Sydney 30 July 1796, nla.obj-1419486 – the earliest surviving document printed in Australia.