Townsville Little Theatre finds a Home

Townsville Little Theatre Committee
Members of The Townsville Little Theatre Committee at their new home on Sturt Street IMAGE: Supplied

Townsville Little Theatre is no longer waiting in the wings for a place to call home!

This vibrant amateur theatre group, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019, recently acquired a new clubhouse on Sturt Street.

Townsville Little Theatre’s president, Jacinta Ryan, says the group is very lucky to have secured the space underneath Sturt Lodge on Sturt Street, after drifting from hall to hall since 2019’s floods wiped out their previous rehearsal space.

“It was a former commercial site but we are not paying a commercial rate. Five Rivers Development has given it to us at a discounted rate, so we’re very excited and very grateful,” she says.

“We’ve secured it for two years at this stage, with the option for both of us to continue for another two years after that as long as both parties are happy.”

There’s no place like home!

Having a secure base to call home is very important to Townsville Little Theatre’s hardworking committee members.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to finally have a space to call our own after being without a home for over three years,” says Jacinta.

“Certainty over space allows us to grow our membership and build on what we can do, and offer, without constantly worrying about finding venues for rehearsals and meetings. It allows us to put down roots.”

“It allows us to put down roots.”

Jacinta and the committee have exciting plans for the new space.

“We are currently using it for rehearsals and also as a meeting space for committee meetings, production meetings etc.

“We’ve already had one social event there where we invited members to come and check the space out and we’re hoping to have more social activities as well as play readings. We might even be able to have small workshops there. It’s a very flexible space. We can use it in whichever way our imaginations allow!” she laughs.

Ryan Domingue and Ange Williams in Townsville Little Theatre’s Trust Me! I’m An Actor (2022)

What’s in a name?

Townsville Little Theatre recently ran a competition to name the new venue.

“We received a lot of lovely nominations for the name,” Jacinta says.

“I think we’re going to do a survey to get people to vote on their preferred names. There are some simpler names as well as some more elaborate names… but I’m sure we’ll land on something.

“We are also organising some signage for the venue so that people can find us a bit more easily and we plan to advertise our shows in the large window that overlooks Sturt Street.”

Lack of performance space… a Townsville tragedy!

Jacinta says one of the major issues that local theatre groups are facing is procuring performance venues.

“We have the wonderful Civic Theatre but that only suits certain shows and certain budgets.

“We’ve lost Riverway which is being repurposed as a library. The Courthouse, where Full Throttle Theatre was, is closed for renovations and we’ve had no end date as to when it will re-open,” she says.

“Townsville Little Theatre predominantly uses Pimlico Performing Arts Centre (PIMPAC) for its productions but the school is getting a new performance venue… a music concert hall… which doesn’t necessarily suit theatre performance.  We’ve made suggestions to make it a more multi-purpose performance space but we don’t know how that will play out. The school library will be relocated to the current PIMPAC site,” she says.

“In the past we’ve also used the theatrette at St Margaret Mary’s College. However, they recently refurbished it, after the floods, and it looks likely that they will be focusing more on keeping it for school use rather than external users.”

“There’s C2 but, again, the cost involved, and the infrastructure you have to bring in to make it a performance space, is prohibitive. Dancenorth is also prohibitive because you’ve got to pay a professional to be there if you’re an external user. So, there’s nothing economically comparative to PIMPAC where you have the bare basics but you can bring in your own people to do the technical work,” she says.

The cast of Townville Little Theatre’s Spider’s Web at PIMPAC (2022)

A spotlight on needs…

“You only have to look at NAFA and the amount of performances and artistic events that do happen around Townsville, to know that we have a rich cultural city,” Jacinta says.

“We just need a little bit of investment in terms of hard infrastructure.

“I know we’re not Brisbane but we are supposed to be the Capital of the North. We should have our own Arts precinct with multi-sized venues to support and grow what’s already here, as well as the productions and shows that visit.”

This article was supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). RADF is a partnership between the Queensland Government and the Townsville City Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

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