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The Malthouse Theatre (on the right), behind the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
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Malthouse Theatre is the resident theatre company of The Coopers Malthouse building in Southbank, part of the Melbourne Arts Precinct. In the 1980s it was known as the Playbox Theatre Company and was housed in the Playbox Theatre in Melbourne.
The theatre company had its beginnings as "Hoopla!" in 1976, dedicated to supporting Australian plays and playwrights. In 1980 the name was changed to Playbox after moving to the Playbox Theatre at 55 Exhibition Street, before it was destroyed by fire in 1984.
In 1990, the company moved to new premises at the old Malthouse. In 2003, under incoming artistic director Michael Kantor and executive producer, Stephen Armstrong, the company changed its name to Malthouse Theatre. While it continues to produce new Australian theatre, the company no longer limits itself to new Australian texts.
The Malthouse building
The Malthouse was built in 1892 by the Castlemaine Brewery, then one of the largest in Australia, to supply its brewery on nearby Queensbridge Street. It was later leased to Barrett Bros & Burston & Co. who also operated the large malting works on the Yarra River in Richmond, known for the large silos and Nylex sign. By the 1970s it had ceased operating and had been painted white and lost much of its architectural detail. In 1986 the then owners Carlton & United Breweries donated the building to the Playbox theatre to refurbish as their permanent home. After years of fundraising and construction, 'The CUB Malthouse' theatre complex opened on 23 February 1990. In 2014 the building was renamed the Coopers Malthouse.
The Malthouse houses three theatres: the 500-seat Merlyn Theatre (named after philanthropist Merlyn Myer), the 175-seat Beckett Theatre (named after designer John Beckett) and the 100-seat Tower Theatre. The building also includes a cafe and bar, rehearsal studios and administrative offices. Malthouse Theatre's scenic workshop is located in the neighbouring Australian Centre for Contemporary Art building, completed in 2002, which also includes rehearsal space for the Chunky Move contemporary dance company.
Malthouse Theatres' core artistic team is led by Artistic Director Matthew Lutton and includes Associate Artists Ming-Zhu Hii (Director In Residence), Declan Greene (Resident Artist) and company dramaturg Mark Pritchard. Lead and directed by Co-CEOs Sarah Neal and Matthew Lutton the company curates a combination of new commissions, local collaborations and national/international co-productions.
A multidisciplinary contemporary theatre, Malthouse Theatre produces and/or presents many productions annually, from drama to contemporary opera, music theatre and cabaret, to contemporary dance and physical theatre. The company regularly co-produces with local and national performing arts companies and tours nationally and internationally. In recent years, Malthouse Theatre productions have been presented internationally, including the 2018 presentation of Picnic at Hanging Rock, adapted by Tom Wright and directed by Matthew Lutton at the Barbican Centre.
- "About Us". Malthouse Theatre. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
- "Two Theatre Plus Much More...(advertisement)". The Age. 23 February 1990.