Tags: amateur, play
From humble beginnings in piano teacher/composer Bryceson Treharne's classroom in the Elder Conservatorium, North Terrace, Adelaide, the organization now known as The Adelaide Repertory Theatre (The Rep as it is now affectionately known) began in 1908. Treharne's students met to read and discuss plays, and to learn of the exciting European modern drama movements of the day. After six months, they decided to stage W.B. Yeats' Land of Heartâ€™s Desire and George Bernard Shaw's A Man of Destiny in the North Hall at the Elder Conservatorium, calling their fledgling company The Adelaide Literary Theatre, a name which was to remain for six years. Interest and curiosity from most of the audience inspired the class to stage further productions. Experienced outsiders gave assistance - curtains were added and candles and acetylene lights assisted by reflectors made very passable footlights. The season was a crowd pleaser and more of Adelaide's amateur players came to join the group. Residents of Adelaide, realising the value of the project, offered to pay subscriptions to see more plays. A committee was formed.
A hundred years on, The Adelaide Repertory Theatre is the oldest surviving amateur theatre company in the Southern Hemisphere. Not surprisingly perhaps, on many occasions throughout its hundred-year story, it has been on the brink of collapse, usually financial in origin. Amateur theatre in Australia, like its professional counterpart, has never been high on the list of the countryâ€™s Artsâ€™ priorities. They are simply not where governments, the corporate world and individuals have lavished their money. However, the last third of the twentieth century has seen a change in public and private thinking towards financial support of the Performance Arts â€“ to join the visual arts, long the recipients of substantial public and private philanthropy.