It’s an old saying, but it’s also a true one.
I admit freely that I’m a boy from the suburbs. I still live in Sydney’s greater west, and at the moment, I see no reason to change that.
I’m certainly not sheltered from the city, and have obviously attended theatre events in Sydney for many years.
In fact, I dare say that those from the suburbs are a lot less sheltered than those who live within a five kilometre radius of the CBD and would need a compass to find Parramatta, Blacktown or Penrith.
So it’s strange somewhat that the theatre options that exist in the hugely populated suburbs of Sydney tend to be either amateur productions or professional plays that have ventured out after their city runs.
Venues like the Parramatta Riverside Theatres and the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre at Penrith produce some high quality stuff from time to time, but never the big budget, major musicals we see in the city.
The tourist factor of course plays a big part in ticket sales but so does the strong suburban market.
The solution? Build a theatre in Sydney’s west. A big theatre. A major one.
Risky, yes, but once one really investigates the benefits of doing business in the true hearts of the Sydney region, you begin to realise the uncapped and unlimited potential that exists.
Theatre often complains about the coverage and attention given to sport in this country. Do a comparison, however, and you will quickly see that the investment into suburban areas by sports organisation outweighs theatre significantly.
Sport knows that it can stranglehold a community and a region by giving it something to call its own.
Rugby league franchises like the Parramatta Eels, Wests Tigers and Penrith Panthers attract huge numbers to games, huge merchandise and membership sales and big-time television ratings. It is a success that has been brought about due to long, sustained commitments from the league in those regions.
The AFL hasn’t set up a team at Blacktown simply because it wants to feel good about itself. It’s set up a team there because it sees there is money to be paid.
Sport doesn’t simply plonk four or five teams in the CBD and let them fight for themselves. It spreads across the map of this country to ensure it is available to everyone. Should theatre not do the same?
We know that two or three musicals running in Sydney at the one time can often spell disaster, so what if one of them was in the suburbs?
All seems like a crazy idea now, I know, but one day, someone will have the vision and forethought to tap into the unlimited resources of western Sydney. And they’ll probably make a truckload of money in the process.