Page 2860 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 17 August 2005

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Many of us can recall a time before the Playhouse and many more can remember when the walkway between the theatre and the Playhouse was enclosed. Even relatively recent arrivals can remember the reopening of the new Playhouse in 1998, one of the nation’s great theatres of the spoken word, and outside now the boardings and construction work signal yet another evolution, with the rebirth on this site of the Civic library and rebuilding of the link.

Over the years the boards of the Canberra Theatre Centre have vibrated to the tread of some of the finest performers of this city and country, the Australian Ballet, the Sydney and Melbourne theatre companies, Bell Shakespeare—in Canberra most significantly with its magnificent Wars of the Roses adaptation—and the Sydney Dance Company. The anniversary exhibition that was held transported us back to some of the great moments in the life of the centre.

That exhibition, which I was very pleased to open, also celebrated those who have worked in the theatre, the men and women who have shown us to our seats, sweated over play lists season after season, served drinks and ensured from the moment that we walked through the door that we had been transported out of our everyday existence. I think it is fair to comment today that one whose contribution to the suspension of reality that we have experienced at the Canberra Theatre is celebrated in the exhibition at the centre, that is, the centre’s first director, Terry Vaughan, who composed a work entitled Fanfare for an Occasion specifically for that opening. Many aspects of the centre’s history now live only in the memories of those who were there. I think that it is very fitting and relevant that much of the work that has been performed, though lost, has had a chance to be rediscovered.

An institution does not attain the cherished status of the Canberra Theatre without giving significantly back to the community. Over the years, the centre has worked assiduously to bring live theatre to as wide an audience as possible. Under its social capital initiative, it provides tickets to groups such as youth centres and refuges, which might otherwise never have the opportunity to witness live theatre. Last year the value of those tickets was nearly $25,000. Through Club Theatrics, the centre makes performances more affordable for school and college students, while the Playtime Theatre initiative proves that you are never too young to get a taste for performance.

The centre also supports the Canberra community through events such as the popular music at midday by the Royal Military College Duntroon, which raised over $9,000 for charity last year. I am very happy today to speak very shortly to this motion to acknowledge the wonderful contribution of the Canberra Theatre Centre to the cultural life of the city of Canberra over 40 years and I join with members of the Assembly and the Canberra community in looking forward to many more years of success.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (5.30): I am pleased to be able to stand today and talk about the Canberra Theatre. I am pleased to announce that this year the Canberra Theatre introduced the Canberra Theatre access initiative that was launched by Mr Hargreaves, an initiative that gives people who are visually or aurally impaired the chance to attend all of the productions that the theatre presents.

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