Adelaide’s Theatres: Then and Now

An exhibition opening in the rooftop-level gallery at Her Majesty’s Theatre next week invites visitors to reflect on more than 180 years of theatre history in Adelaide.

A 1975 program from Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Adelaide Theatres: Then and Now features photographs and programs from some 35 different theatres, including the first local purpose-built theatre the Queen’s, which opened in the Gilles Arcade in 1840 and continues to be used as a performance venue today.

Other featured venues include the Regent Theatre in Rundle Street, which opened in 1928 and was later reduced in size before being gutted and absorbed into the Regent Arcade. Today, the former theatre space is occupied by the new Dymocks Rundle Mall, where you can still view its ornate ceilings.

There are also photos of Hudson’s Bijou Theatre in King William Street – which originally opened as Garner’s Theatre in 1856 and was Hudson’s Bijou/The Bijou from 1892-1900, when it was used “primarily for variety, minstrelsy and pantomime” – and the Empire Theatre in Grote Street, which was used between 1909 and 1948, after which it was bought by Peoplestores.

Only three of the 35 theatres in the exhibition still exist: the Queen’s, Adelaide Festival Theatre, and Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Adelaide Theatres: Then and Now has been timed to celebrate the 110th birthday of Her Maj, which was built in 1913 as part of the chain of Tivoli theatres and underwent a $66 million rebuild several years ago. The exhibition opens on Monday (November 20) in the theatre’s Ian and Pamela Wall Gallery and will be available to view during performance times at Her Maj.

Pop-up performances On the Terrace

Violinist Tahlia Williams performs in the Mortlock Chamber during a previous On the Terrace event. Photo: Claudio Raschella / supplied

More than 40 musicians ranging from award-winning First Nations hip-hop group DEM MOB to new local flute ensemble Coruscalia Collective will be giving free performances this Sunday for Chamber Music Adelaide’s annual On the Terrace event.

The 28 mini-concerts, each lasting around 15 minutes, will take place between 11am and 4pm in the Art Gallery of South Australia, State Library, Migration Museum and the South Australian Museum.

DEM MOB, who come from the APY Lands and won a swag of awards at this month’s SA Music Awards, will launch the 2023 On the Terrace with an 11am performance on the lawns of the SA Museum.

Program highlights include a collaboration between shamisen performer Noriko Tadano and didgeridoo player Allen Edwards (Gallery 6 at AGSA), a new work by Kegelstatt Ensemble (State Library’s Mortlock Chamber), high-energy Latin music from Juan Munoz and Mario Vasquez (Migration Museum courtyard), and a recital by Seraphim Trio’s Anna Goldsworthy and Helen Ayers (Mortlock Chamber). The four-piece Coruscalia Collective will play in the State Library’s Circulating Library, while First Nations singer Nathan May and violinist Julian Ferraretto will perform in two different galleries at AGSA.

Chamber Music Adelaide says each concert is “an intimate rendezvous with musicians; a mini recital that invites you to savour something new with every note”. The full program for the November 19 event is available on its website.

Hannaford’s Big hART portraits on show

A series of portraits by renowned South Australian artist Robert Hannaford celebrating individuals at the centre of work by social change and arts company Big hART are on show in a new exhibition in Adelaide.

Robert Hannaford’s portrait of Nelson Coppin, who was involved in a Big hART project involving theatre, interactive comics, short films, music, place-making and animation.

Hannaford has been involved with Big hART for 28 years, with the organisation saying the Hannaford and Big hART show comprises a collection of “dynamic and moving realist portraits painted on stage, in rehearsals, in homes, at workplaces and on Country”.

People captured in the portraits include Yindjibarndi elder Mavis Pat, whose son died in police custody; Pitjantjatjara actor Trevor Jamieson (Run Rabbit Run, Storm Boy); residents from a “demonised” social housing project in Sydney, and at-risk young people from the West Coast of Tasmania and other parts of the country.

Big hART creative director and CEO Scott Rankin says it has Hannaford join its projects to give visibility and respect to people who are marginalised and often hidden from the wider community.

“I believe in the Big hART cause ­– using art as a vehicle for liberation from injustice and disadvantage,” says Hannaford, who has been a finalist for the Archibald Prize 27 times.

“I had to work quickly, sometimes on stage, to capture the essence of the personalities involved – I believe this brought the best out of me as an artist and I am proud of the work we achieved.”

Hannaford and Big hART is open to the public at the Royal South Australian Society of the Arts (level one, Institute Building, corner North Terrace and Kintore Avenue) from November 18 until December 10.

All shook up… and a Gay gala

General-release tickets have just gone on sale for the Adelaide season of the new bio-musical Elvis: A Musical Revolution, which is set to open at Her Majesty’s Theatre on April 3 next year.

The show stars Tasmanian-born stage and television performer Rob Mallett as “the King”, and features more than 40 of Presley’s hits. Director Alister Smith says he hopes A Musical Revolution will help audiences see “the man behind the myth” as it explores pivotal moments in Presley’s life, from his childhood in Tupelo, Mississippi, through to his 1968 Comeback Special.

In case you missed it, tickets also went on sale this week for the 2024 Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s Variety Gala, which will be hosted by festival artistic director Virginia Gay on June 7. The red-carpet event provides a taster for what is to come in the Cab Fest, with Gay promising to introduce “an incredible array of local and international talent”.

Nature photo opportunity

Blue, by Mary Gudgeon – runner-up in the macro category of the 2023 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition.

In a sign of the times ­– and the ever-increasing drone of drones – the South Australian Museum had introduced a new aerial category for the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition.

Entries opened this month for the 2024 competition, which invites photographers of all ages and experience to submit entries capturing different perspectives on nature in the Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and New Guinea bioregion.

The overall winner will take home $10,000, while cash prizes are also on offer for the best photos in 10 categories including landscape, animals in nature, macro, our impact, and monochrome. The new aerial category is open to photos taken from an elevated position or high vantage point, including fixed structures or aircraft.

“New techniques and constant innovations such as the development of drone technology has enabled us to see nature in new ways and capture places that are impossible to humanly reach,” says Australian Geographic picture editor Nicky Catley.

“This year the creation of a new aerial category reflects this ever-changing way we look at the world. Seeing the world from above might make us feel small and help put us in our place – and that’s not a bad thing.”

Entries are open until February 6, 2024 (details here). The work of winners and finalists will be shown in an exhibition that opens at the SA Museum, which produces the competition, before touring nationally.

Green Room is a regular column for InReview, providing quick news for people interested, or involved, in South Australian arts and culture.

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