Queen's Theatre, Adelaide

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Queen's Theatre, Playhouse Lane

The Queen's Theatre is a building of historic importance in Playhouse Lane, Adelaide, South Australia, the oldest such in mainland Australia, but predated by Theatre Royal in Hobart, Tasmania. It was not the first theatre in Adelaide however, that being Samson Cameron's short-lived Royal Victoria Theatre on North Terrace which opened on 23 November 1839.[1]

History[edit]

At the south end of Gilles Arcade, off Currie Street, with seating for over 1000 people,[2] it was built for Emanuel Solomon (1800 – 3 October 1873) and his "silent partner" brother Vaiben Solomon[3] (1802–1860) in 1840[4] to dire predictions of failure from the press[5] and opened with a performance of Othello on 11 January 1841.[6] John Lazar was manager from 1841. The Southern Australian's prognostications proved correct and the last play was staged around 28 November 1842. Some use was made of the theatre for public meetings and lectures, and Solomon offered it to the government gratis if they would prohibit the building of further taverns in the vicinity (his Shakspere Tavern,[7] subsequently named Temple Tavern, was adjacent). This was rejected, but in 1843 the government signed a contract with Solomon for three years' rental at £200 per annum for use as Resident Magistrates Court, Supreme Court and offices for the Registrar General, the Advocate General, the Assistant Crown Solicitor and Assistant to the Bench of Magistrates.[8]

Between 1846 and 1847 Solomon, whose nephew Judah Moss Solomon (1818–1880) was an occasional partner, attempted to sell the theatre and tavern by lottery, but it was never fully subscribed so he refunded to the punters their stakes.

It reopened, re-using the name Royal Victoria Theatre, under the management of John Lazar and George Coppin, on 23 December 1850.[9]

In 1861 it closed for refurbishment and substantial remodelling, and reopened in July with A. J. Solomon the new lessee and Robert MacGowan the stage manager[10] of what was Adelaide's only theatre until the opening of the Theatre Royal at 28 Hindley Street on 13 April 1868,[11] which spelled the demise of the "Victoria".

It then became successively a dance hall designated the "Prado",[12] the headquarters for the City Mission,[13] a horse market[14] and other commercial uses, and finally a car park.[15]

Recent development[edit]

The partially restored interior, now used as a performance space, during a History Month tour in 2014

The building was purchased by the South Australian Asset Management Corporation and transferred to Heritage SA in the 1980s. Excavation revealed historically significant remains and numerous artefacts.

The Queen's Theatre was reopened as a performance venue at the 1996 Adelaide Festival of Arts, with a performance of The Magic Flute by Opera Australia. Following essential refurbishments, it was reopened for the launch of the 1998 Festival of Arts by Robyn Archer.[16]

The theatre is now used as a performance space and function venue, but with stringent conditions intended to preserve as far as possible, the old character of the building.[17]

New Queen's Theatre[edit]

A new theatre was built in 1846 for George Coppin on nearby land on Light Square belonging to Solomon and managed by John Lazar. The hall held 700 and had the distinction of prohibiting smoking in the boxes.[18] A critique of a show at New Queen's Theatre was the occasion of a court case against editor John Stephens in 1850. There is no newspaper reference to this theatre after November 1850.

Sources[edit]

West, John Theatre in Australia Cassell Australia 1978 ISBN 0 7269 9266 6

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Royal Vicoria Theatre". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 16 November 1839. p. 3. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Our Notable Pioneers". The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 7 November 1936. p. 4 Section: Magazine. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Adelaide had three Solomon brothers: Vaiben, Emanuel and Isaac. The famous Vaiben Louis Solomon and Judah Moss Solomon were of the following generation.
  4. ^ "Gilles Arcade". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 14 March 1840. p. 4. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Queen's Theatre". Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 - 1844) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 29 December 1840. p. 3. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "The Queen's Theatre". The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 28 January 1841. p. 2. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "Advertising.". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 7 February 1849. p. 2. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "South Australia". The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 24 July 1843. p. 3. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "The Theatre". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 24 December 1850. p. 3. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Victoria Theatre". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 15 July 1861. p. 3. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Old-Time Theatres". The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 6 January 1921. p. 5. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "The Dancing Saloons and Night-Houses". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 28 June 1870. p. 6. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "The City Mission". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 15 August 1872. p. 4. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  14. ^ "Early Experiences on South Australia". The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 27 March 1901. p. 7. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "Gilles Arcade". The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 14 July 1928. p. 13. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  16. ^ Queens Theatre in Adelaide, SA
  17. ^ Queen's Theatre - Adelaide South Australia
  18. ^ "Advertising.". South Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1844 - 1851) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 23 October 1846. p. 2. Retrieved 8 August 2012.