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National Theatre, Launceston

National Theatre
The National Theatre in 2016
Map
Address99 Charles Street
Launceston, Tasmania
Australia
Coordinates41°26′13.1″S 147°8′11.67″E / 41.436972°S 147.1365750°E / -41.436972; 147.1365750
OwnerFoot & Playsted
Capacity1,100[1]
Construction
Opened25 September 1915; 108 years ago (1915-09-25)[2]
Closed1970; 54 years ago (1970)
Years active1915–1948, 1951-1970
ArchitectThomas Searell
Website
Official site
Place ID3,971[3]
StatusPermanently Registered

The National Theatre is a historic former theatre in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

History

Located on the corner of Charles Street and Paterson Street, the National Theatre was formally opened on 25 September 1915 by Mayor Alderman Percy Hart, whose wife Margaret raised the curtain for a production of The Silence of Dean Maitland staged by the George Marlow Dramatic Company.[2][4][5] The National was used for theatre productions, films, ballet, opera, and sporting events such as boxing and wrestling. Early theatrical performances and amusements included Harry Lauder,[6] Roy Rene[7] and Annette Kellerman.[8] Classical music and operatic productions included Eileen Joyce,[9][10] Ignaz Friedman,[11] Essie Ackland,[12] Rudolf Pekárek,[13] John Brownlee, Peter Dawson and brothers Jascha Spivakovsky and Tossy Spivakovsky.[10]

In 1934, the National was remodelled to address safety and accessibility issues, which saw the stage dropped to ground level, the stalls lowered and the Charles Street entrance stairs removed.[14][15] The auditorium was updated with Australian-made Raycophone sound technology, and the National reopened as a talkie with The Head of the Family and Fashions of 1934.[16]

Broadway theatre and Hollywood actor Mona Barrie appeared in theatrical performances at the National in the 1940s whilst contracted to J. C. Williamson's.[10] Throughout the 1940s several ballet companies and personalities visited the theatre including the Borovansky Ballet,[17] Bodenwieser Ballet[18] and acclaimed Russian ballerina Tamara Tchinarova.[19]

The National Theatre in 2015

Purchase by the Launceston City Council

Following the Second World War, the theatre fell into financial hardship[20] and after several years of closure was purchased by the Launceston City Council (LCC) for £A17,000.[21][22] Although the LCC proposed the theatre be renamed the Margaret McIntyre Memorial Theatre after Margaret McIntyre, the first female elected to the Parliament of Tasmania, this never eventuated.[23] The theatre continued to be used to host international theatrical performances, live music, amusements, as well as amateur theatre productions. In 1951, the stage was damaged in a fire caused by experimentation with flash powder, causing over £A6,000 worth of damage.[24] Following the refurbishment of Hobart's Theatre Royal in 1954, Minister for Health Reg Turnbull requested the LCC approach Premier Robert Cosgrove for a grant to restore the National Theatre.[25] In 1958, South African actor Morry Barling suddenly died onstage.[26] The theatre remained active throughout the 1960s, largely hosting performances by the Tasmanian Ballet Company.[27]

Closure

Due to ongoing costs, the LCC decided to sell the theatre in 1969, although events continued into the next year. The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust premiered Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's comedic opera School for Fathers,[28] Welsh dramatist Emlyn Williams performed his one-man show on the life of Charles Dickens[29] and world-renowned pianist Winifred Atwell gave the final performance at the theatre on 14 November 1970. The building was sold to the printing company Foot & Playsted.

Contemporary use

The National Theatre has been greatly preserved by Foot & Playsted, who use the auditorium for storage.[15]

Since MONA FOMA festivities expanded to include Launceston in 2018, the National Theatre has been used for arts events by Quandamooka artist Megan Cope and visual artist Thomas Demand.[30] In 2022 the National Theatre was featured in programming by Open House Launceston.[31]

See also

References

  1. ^ "NATIONAL THEATRE". The Daily Telegraph (Launceston). 9 July 1919. p. 6. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ a b "THE NATIONAL THEATRE. OPENING PERFORMANCE". The Examiner (Tasmania). 27 September 1915. p. 3. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Permanent and Provisional Registrations as at 22 Jan 2021" (PDF). Tasmanian Heritage Register. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  4. ^ "THE NATIONAL THEATRE, Launceston's Splendid New Playhouse". The Daily Telegraph (Launceston). 27 September 1915. p. 2. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ Black, Zona (25 March 2017). "Launceston's old cinemas, theatres". The Examiner. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  6. ^ "SIR HARRY LAUDER TO VISIT LAUNCESTON". The Examiner (Tasmania). 3 September 1923. p. 6. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ ""Mo" in Launceston". Saturday Evening Express (Launceston). 28 October 1939. p. 6. Retrieved 12 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "AMUSEMENTS. VISIT OF ANNETTE KELLERMAN. VERSATILE ARTIST AT NATIONAL THEATRE". The Daily Telegraph (Launceston). 29 October 1921. p. 8. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "EILEEN JOYCE AT NATIONAL TONIGHT". The Examiner (Tasmania). 14 May 1936. p. 2. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ a b c Weetman, Etta (8 May 1948). "National Theatre Memories". The Examiner (Tasmania). p. 10. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ "IGNAZ FRIEDMAN RECITAL". The Examiner (Tasmania). 23 August 1940. p. 7. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  12. ^ "ESSIE ACKLAND'S CHARM". The Mercury (Hobart). 29 April 1937. p. 7. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ "Pekárek for Launceston". The Examiner (Tasmania). 1 October 1954. p. 13. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "NATIONAL THEATRE, Reopened in a New Guise, A Matter for Pride". The Examiner (Tasmania). 26 March 1934. p. 6. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  15. ^ a b Aquilina, Sarah (3 July 2016). "Launceston's old National Theatre". The Examiner. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  16. ^ "NEW TALKIE HOUSE". The Examiner (Tasmania). Vol. XCIII, no. 71. Tasmania, Australia. 2 June 1934. p. 13 (DAILY). Retrieved 20 July 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  17. ^ "Ballet Company in Launceston". The Examiner (Tasmania). 1 December 1945. p. 5. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  18. ^ "VIENNESE BALLET AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE". The Examiner (Tasmania). 12 April 1940. p. 3. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  19. ^ "RUSSIAN BALLET ENSEMBLE AT LAUNCESTON". The Examiner (Tasmania). 27 November 1940. p. 6. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  20. ^ "Fate of National Theatre". The Advocate (Australia). 6 October 1948. p. 11. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  21. ^ "NATIONAL THEATRE SOLD TO COUNCIL". The Mercury (Hobart). 29 November 1952. p. 6. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  22. ^ "NATIONAL THEATRE TRANSFER". The Advocate (Australia). 30 September 1953. p. 3. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  23. ^ "NATIONAL THEATRE". The Advocate (Australia). 13 October 1948. p. 5. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  24. ^ "MAY COST £6,000 TO REPLACE STAGE PROPERTY DESTROYED IN NATIONAL THEATRE FIRE". The Mercury (Hobart). 11 June 1951. p. 6. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  25. ^ "Suggests Grant For Theatre". The Mercury. Vol. CLXXVI, no. 26, 206. Tasmania, Australia. 22 December 1954. p. 6. Retrieved 31 July 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  26. ^ Bergman, Dr. George (14 April 1961). "TINY LAUNCESTON JEWRY DWINDLES". The Australian Jewish Herald. p. 9. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  27. ^ Brissenden, Alan; Glennon, Keith (2010). Australia Dances: Creating Australian Dance, 1945-1965. Kent Town, South Australia: National Library of Australia. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-86254-802-2.
  28. ^ "105 volumes : illustrations (chiefly coloured), portraits (chiefly coloured) ; 30-40 cm.", The bulletin., John Ryan Comic Collection (Specific issues)., Sydney, N.S.W: John Haynes and J.F. Archibald, 1880, ISSN 0007-4039, nla.obj-674244627, retrieved 31 July 2022 – via Trove
  29. ^ Bergman, Dr. George (5 August 1970). "HIS ROLE". The Australian Women's Weekly. p. 7. Retrieved 11 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  30. ^ Ward, Sarah (13 December 2021). "Mona Foma 2022. Head to Tasmania's huge summer arts festival for icebergs, lasers, monster trucks, Midnight Oil, sonic sculptures and a tribute to video stores". Concrete Playground. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  31. ^ "Foot & Playsted, The National Theatre With Emily Sanzaro, Carmencita Palermo And Georgia Shine". Open House Hobart. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
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National Theatre, Launceston
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