A Perth community theatre company is facing homelessness and possible extinction, and the theatre community is being called upon to show their support.
The Harbour Theatre Company, which was established in 1963, has been performing at the Princess May Building in Fremantle for over a decade but they will be turfed out in December.
Fremantle’s original and only community theatre now needs a new venue, and if it does not find one soon, performances in 2010 could be in doubt.
The Fremantle Education Centre holds the lease to the Princess May Building and whilst it has allowed Harbour Theatre to use the space for some time, it now wants the theatre back.
The story is much more complicated though, with reports that Fremantle Council – who also have a say in the lease – agreed last year that the theatre could stay until 2018. Now, it appears that promise has been broken.
Harbour Theatre has contacted Fremantle Council in an effort to get their assistance in finding a new venue for the group to perform in.
According to its website, Harbour Theatre was formed in 1963 by eight enthusiastic amateurs, led by Jimmy Quinn, a very competent and experienced director. The upper floor of the Evans Davies Library in South Terrace, Fremantle (above what is now Dome) became Harbour’s first home. Conditions were very primitive at the beginning, but enthusiasm overcame all difficulties and the group expanded rapidly.
By 1965, Harbour was able to present four full length productions a year and an Associate Membership scheme was started (and is still one of the largest memberships of Community theatre in Perth). The Mayor of Fremantle at that time, Sir Frederick Samson, was presented with the first Honorary Life Associate Membership of Harbour Theatre, which he gratefully accepted.
Harbour Theatre’s latest production, Oliver, will open later this month at the Princess May Building and will be the last production at the venue.
This is not the first time Harbour Theatre has been faced with such a problem.
Iin March 1995, Harbour Theatre was forced to find another venue at which to perform and departed from the Evans Davies Building, their home for 31 years. As a temporary measure, Harbour Theatre performed at the Tivoli Theatre, in the suburb of Applecross, for about 18 months, while searching for a location back in Fremantle. Eventually, they found the Princess May Building.
For more information on how you can help Harbour Theatre, visit http://www.harbourtheatre.org.au.