The Theatre Royal has a few stories. As Australia’s oldest continually running theatre, that’s no surprise. But few know tales of those early days when the theatre swung open its doors in 1837. Surrounded by public houses, brothels and factories, entertainment ranged from quartets to cockfights. Indeed, it even had its own tavern beneath the auditorium where sailors, prostitutes and other sorts would create their own dramatic storylines.
Today, there are no cockfights. But there’s still plenty of drama. Designed by Peter Degraves, the man behind Australia’s oldest brewery (Cascade), the theatre has survived a devastating fire and edged close to demolition more than once. Yet the convict-carved walls still stand, wrapping around leading Australian and international figures that continue to grace the stage.
THE 2016 LAUNCH EVENT
What’s coming up this season? At the 2016 launch event all is revealed. After we are taken through season highlights (five must see shows below), to our surprise the curtains are raised, revealing an enormous backstage space dotted with champagne glasses and Tasmanian fare. It takes little time for the audience to rise from comfy red seats and join a sea of theatre-enthusiasts chattering between bubbles about which shows to attend.
“I’ve performed all over the world and I have to say, this is one of my favourites Australia-wide,” he says with a charismatic smile, eyes lifting to the theatre’s upper reaches. It’s as if he’s rehearsed the line many times over, but truth is, he’s just making conversation with a Hobart local at the launch event. He doesn’t know who I am, and I’ve never shaken his hand or seen him perform. All I know is that Ross Balbuziente, Artistic Director of shake & stir theatre co. is very excited to return to this Hobart stage. (He also appears on the 2016 season cover above).
It’s my first time standing up on stage. For a moment I imagine what it’s like to perform; the bold red curtains rising to reveal fervent faces. Standing where so many have delivered lines, lifted their voices or had the crowds in laughter, I can’t appreciate it like my actor counterpart can. But judging by the sparkle in those fetching eyes, he’s ready to perform on these historic boards.
Have you read the book? According to Stage Whispers this is “a production that has success stamped all over it." This classic story is brought to you by shake & stir theatre co, the company behind George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984. Watch the story of a mysterious man, Heathcliff, unfold with breathtaking stage design and a chance of rain.
Death in Bowengabbie
Since when are funerals funny? In this ‘big, black tender-hearted comedy about love, loss and the mourning after’ you may find yourself chuckling. At Bowengabbie, apparently meals on wheels and funeral arranging is big industry and although Oscar said he’d never return, when Aunt Jeannie dies he finds himself back at Bowengabbie. Next, he finds himself attending more than one funeral….
Circus Under My Bed
Looking for a night of colour and fun? Ever thought of leaving behind everyday life and joining a circus? Grab a few children and head along to Circus Under My Bed. According to the Sydney Morning Herald this is, “A rich theatrical experience for children. This is family circus at its very best.”
The Marriage of Figaro
If you enjoy Mozart, appreciate period costumes and like the sound of Figaro being compared to the Downton Abbey of opera, come and see Opera Australia’s new production. Featuring a chorus of local children and a chamber orchestra, this comic show has a touch of everything; love, liaisons, laughter and lust.
If you’re looking to enjoy some Tasmanian talent head for the Theatre Royal Backspace and enjoy Jeff Michel’s pedalling back in time. This feast of comedy and drama is a special blend of storytelling, puppetry and music. It’s a one man show of serious talent.
Words: Alice Hansen
Images: Alice Hansen unless otherwise credited
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.