West End’s Bille Brown Studio is currently undergoing a multi-million-dollar transformation and will re-open as the Bille Brown Theatre for the world premiere of David Williamson’s Nearer the Gods in October 2018. We were very excited to be invited to sneak a peek at the under-construction new theatre along with Minister for the Arts and Queensland Theatre leadership and legends.
Creating a theatre from the ground up, to create the ideal performance space, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, said Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director Sam Strong. This new space, which includes a state-of-the-art corner stage, will increase QT’s ability to take the work of great Queensland artists further. Strong continued that this new theatre is the most concrete step towards Queensland Theatre’s goals of growing into the future and solidifying themselves as the leading theatre company in the country before the company’s 50th birthday.
“It is not just about infrastructure – it is about supporting great stories and great artists in our state,” Minister Leeanne Enoch added.
The refurbishment will increase the seating capacity from 228 to 351, upgrade the amenities, and improve accessibility. No audience member will be more than 9 rows from the front and this space, Brisbane’s first corner stage, "speaks to the unique liveness" of the theatre experience, with the audience a much more active participant than for a traditionally configured stage.
|(L-R) Queensland Theatre's Executive Director Amanda Jolly, Artistic Director Sam Strong, and Minister for the Arts the Hon. Leeanne Enoch.|
Sam Strong also spoke about the significance of the new corner stage, and the ways in which it will enable him as a director to “make work for a contemporary attention span…a space like this can be constantly in motion”. He explained the number of stage entrances and exits in the new space, and emphasised that this “means we can stage work with a fluidity and a speed that people actually haven’t seen, not just in Brisbane but anywhere.”
“Usually you inherit spaces and their strange idiosyncrasies,” Strong said. “But actually, we can start from scratch with this space, which means that the audience experience will be even greater.”
|Bryan Probets and Hsiao-Ling Tang (R) speak about their theatre experiences in the Bille Brown Studio, while the Queensland Theatre Youth Ensemble (L) listen attentively.|
Leading Queensland artists and recognisable faces from several QT productions, Bryan Probets and Hsiao-Ling Tang, also spoke about their experiences in the Bille Brown Studio and looking forward to being able to perform and emote in a more underplayed way, in the new, more intimate performance space. Members of the Youth Ensemble were also in attendance – the stage stars of tomorrow.
The total cost of the renovation project is $5.5 million, with a $2 million investment from the Queensland Government – adding to their commitment of $125 million over 4 years for a new $150 million theatre at QPAC and $8 million in matched funding towards the redevelopment of Queensland Ballet’s home studios, the Thomas Dixon Centre.
|Minister for the Arts, Hon. Leeanne Enoch (L) is excited for the opening of the new theatre, discussing its contribution to Queensland's arts infrastructure with QT Artistic Director Sam Strong (R).|
In the final phases of fundraising, Queensland Theatre is encouraging audiences to literally take a seat – making a personalised dedication or gift of one or more of the chairs to be installed in the new theatre, with the dedication inscribed on a plaque affixed to the chair. Donations can be spread over 2-5 years if desired and all funds raised will help to fill the theatre with chairs, create outstanding productions, realise the potential of great artists, support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytelling, expand regional programs and deliver world-class Education and Youth Programs. Find out more here.
You can book your tickets for the Bille Brown Theatre’s inaugural season, Nearer the Gods, on Queensland Theatre’s website.