375 Hunter St, Newcastle
The re-furbished 205 seat Playhouse provides an intimate, multi-purpose venue delivering high production values for smaller live performance events. Perfect for community groups to hire, it also provides great audience comfort, uninterrupted vision of the performance space and accessibility.
The Playhouse, in its first incarnation, opened in 1979 and was the home of the Hunter Valley Theatre Company (HVTC) Australia’s first regionally based full time professional theatre company dedicated to new and original work.
Productions included John O’Donoghue’s A Happy and Holy Occasion and Essington Lewis: I am Work, David Allen’s Once a Bold Collier and Stephen Abbott’s Headbutt. While shows are ephemeral this history created lasting community memories and it was considered a major setback to the region’s performing arts and cultural development when in 1996 the HVTC folded and then the Playhouse closed in 1998. Many in the community did not accept that a fundamentally well designed performing arts space was allowed to close down, albeit with significant safety and access problems compounded by other issues including deteriorating technical equipment and below standard cast and audience facilities.
Following a community based campaign that sought an affordable, well equipped and comfortable performing arts space for local practitioners, Newcastle City Council and the NSW Ministry for the Arts committed a combined $1.5 million to refurbish Newcastle’s moth-balled Playhouse Theatre which was designed by local architect Brian Suters and was officially re-opened in its present guise on December 21, 2004.
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