Born 27th April 1907, Wavie Beryl Gilbert was raised in Ballarat. Waive was a talented solo performer with a beautiful voice. With a background in calisthenics, she quickly became a dance and movement teacher and was drawn to pantomime. Her debut as a director came with a Christmas show for Gordon’s Store in Bridge Street and in 1934 she presented Dick Whittington and his Cat at the Coliseum. All the participants performed without payment and all proceeds went to local charities.
These were huge productions, cast numbers averaged 130 – 160, most of them children. For the first few productions, Wavie played the Principal Boy parts herself and the last three pantomimes saw John Sorell, Ballarat’s first parking officer, cast as a dame. Wavie set new standards for amateur performance in Ballarat. When tickets for her shows went on sale, queues formed from the theatre down Lydiard Street and around the Sturt Street corner.
Between 1940 and 1953, Waive Williams staged 13 full scale productions based on pantomime stories. Local charities to benefit included the orphanage, Victoria League, Australian Comforts Fund and Red Cross, the Base Hospital peace memorial, Auxiliary for the Blind, Alexandra Babies’ Home, the Aged and Infirm Blind of Ballarat and district, the RSL, the Youth Centre, the Mental Hospital Auxiliary, the Base Hospital Nursing Home and the Pleasant Street Uniting Church Building Fund.
Wavie was a Ballarat icon, a significant figure in the evolution of local amateur performance this town. She trained hundreds of children, a whole generation of Ballarat adults and children interested in performance and turned them into experienced performers who were then available to the next generation of local companies.
Wavie died in Nazareth House Ballarat on the 24th July 1986 and was cremated her remains scattered. Both Wavie and her husband William have an entry in the Ballarat Cemeteries Book of Remembrance.