Our Society – a brief history
In the winter of 1926 a group of leading theatre workers gathered to develop the concept of a Repertory Theatre Company in Hobart, to guarantee a number of ‘suitable’ productions each year. A meeting was held in July to continue to move the project forward.
His Worship The Mayor of Hobart, Ald. E J Rogers presided over a meeting, held in the Town Hall on 21 June 1926. The enthusiastic meeting was well documented by the press of the day (even down to reporting the applause – as it happened!) and Miss Olive Wilton was chosen to be Repertory’s first Producer.
All stops were pulled out to ensure that the required funding of 500 Pounds was raised through two Guinea subscriptions, and indeed by the end of 1926 there were 256 members.
On 10 February 1927 the first Repertory production hit the stage of the Theatre Royal. Written by Madeleine Lucette Ryley, “Mice and Men” was a great success and launched the success story that is today’s Hobart Repertory Theatre Society (‘Hobart Rep’.)
In 1937 the Society purchased a Cinema, ‘the Amuzu Theatre’ in Bathurst Street. Built in 1863 by the Rev. J W Simmons the then Congregational Union Chapel was also known as “The Helping Hand Mission” before becoming a cinema.
It took two years to develop the building into a 330 (or 349 depending on who you read) seat theatre and on Saturday 26 November 1938 the Hobart Repertory Theatre Society launched a new era with the production of “The Taming of the Shrew” (produced by Olive Wilton).
The development of the Theatre has been on-going; including a new roof in the 70’s, refurbishment of seating in the 80’s and an appeal to renovate the building in the 90’s.
Along the way there has been one constant – Rep’s volunteers. Members and shows have come and gone, but there has always been a devoted team of people to make the magic happen.
Hobart Rep has become an institution in amateur theatre in the south of the State. There have been a number of challenges along the way, and these have all been met with the determination and grit that has enabled the society to be in the great position it is today.
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