The Spike Golden Jubilee Number May 1949
So far the earnest seekers after a native New Zealand literature have quite overlooked the Extravaganza. Yet, in its spontaneity and its unselfconscious expression of the New Zealander's interest in politics and all the strong things in life about him, it is as much an expression of a New Zealander's view of life as the plays of Aristophanes were of the Athenian outlook.
Because of its composite origin, Extrav. is a particularly valuable manifestation of local art. There are often many writers of a Wellington Extravaganza, to say nothing of interpolations made by the cast and the contribution to the total effect made by the costume designers, "prop"-men and others. It is directly a social work of art like the ballads and sagas of a more coherent age.
Unlike most New Zealand literature of today, Extrav. is distinctly local and regional. The comparatively adult revels of Auckland, for example, are quite different from the uninhibited Saturnalia of Wellington.
It may be objected that Extrav. has not the permanence of Aristophanes or W. S. Gilbert. True, the Extravs. survive mainly by oral tradition, but survive they do in the Orongorongos and backstage at subsequent Extravs. When wartime brought into the open, at least in army camps, much balladry that had led an underground existence during peacetime, Rollo the Ravaging Roman began to be heard in camp-concerts along with other traditional material.
However, it may be interesting to glance back over the years, so, with our Time Machine in reverse, off we go—
Back in 1903 ... the days of the "New Look" . . . we find a slim issue marked sedately Students' Carnival, the precursor of Cappicades yet unborn. In this we read that Diploma Day is Wednesday, 24th June, and a Carnival is to be held in the Sydney Street Schoolroom at which the whole thirteen graduates will be capped! On the front cover we are also informed that New Laid Eggs may be obtained from the Fresh Food and Ice Company, and that Tonkin's Linseed Emulsion is useful for your cough. (Sold Everywhere.)
Peeping inside, we find the programme from which a few selections would not go amiss: