Friday, February 13, 2015

The Mystique of The Canberra Theatre

The Mystique of The Canberra Theatre

By Satsuki Ranjou
Spirit News
September 21, 2073

The Canberra Theatre Centre is the Australian Capital Territory’s central performing arts venue and Australia’s first performing arts centre, the first Australian Government initiated performing arts centre to be completed. It opened on Thursday 24 June 1965 with a gala performance by the Australian Ballet. The Centre is sited in the heart of Canberra's City Centre, beside the ACT Legislative Assembly and backing onto City Hill, one of the apexes of the Parliamentary Triangle.

Dame Margot Fonteyn performed with the Australian Ballet at the centre in October 1970. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s many international artists performed, including Dame Joan Sutherland. Canberra Opera presented a full-scale production of La Traviata and the Canberra Theatre Trust presented a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Other performers during this time included the Bell Shakespeare Company, the Black Light Theatre of Prague and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. More recently, The Whitlams used the theatre during their early Australian tours in the early 2000s, and the Aboriginal Bangarra Dance Theatre performed here in 2006.

Local companies to use the Playhouse have included Canberra Opera; Prompt Theatre; choreographer Meryl Tankard's Company; The Theatre Players; Canberra Dance Ensemble; National Music Theatre; Canberra Little Theatre; Canberra Children’s Theatre; Stage Craft for Singers; Canberra Gang Show; Canberra Comedy Theatre Company; Jigsaw Theatre Company. For several years the Woden Valley Youth Choir presented their annual concert there. The Playhouse has been used for conventions, meetings, including naturalization ceremonies by the Department of Immigration.

The Playhouse has also housed productions by visiting companies. These included Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead from the Old Tote Theatre Company; Dennis Olsen in Percy and Rose and Benjamin Franklin; David Williamson plays Travelling North and Sanctuary; Melbourne Theatre Company; chamber music concerts by Musica Viva and others; Robyn Archer in A Star is Torn; Pam Ayres; Googie Withers; productions by NIDA; various Bell Shakespeare Company performances (John Bell); pianist David Helfgott; as well as various comedians and entertainers.

The Courtyard Studio is Canberra Theatre Centre's boutique, studio performance space that doubles as the perfect venue for rehearsals, entertaining, corporate functions / meetings, exhibition space, and as an intimate performance space. The Courtyard Studio can seat up to 90 people comfortably for a performance. For entertaining it can seat 100 and for cocktail parties it has a capacity of 140 people.