Hobart Repertory Theatre

The Union chapel, later the playhouse, in 1880 (AOT, PH30/1/3009)

For nearly seventy years, Hobartians seeking live theatre have found it in a red and cream, Romanesque, faintly ecclesiastical-looking building in Bathurst Street. This is the home of the Hobart Repertory Theatre Society, the first amateur theatre company in Australia to own its premises. In 1936 the Society bought the former Congregational Union Chapel (1863), converted it from its use as the Amuzu cinema and opened 'The Playhouse' in November 1938 with The Taming of the Shrew.

The Society dates back to 1926, to a public meeting instigated by prominent citizens supported by resident English actress Olive Wilton (Mrs Cornell). Its first presentation was Mice and Men at the Theatre Royal in 1927. Since then, the 'Rep' has presented from four to six major productions annually, plus pantomimes, musicals and more.

Further reading: Hobart Repertory Theatre Society, Hobart Repertory Theatre Society, golden jubilee, 19261976, Hobart, 1976; Tasmanian Mail, 16 February 1927.

Lea Finlay