In what is a dramatic blow to community-based theatre and perhaps evidence of a changing society, the Acorn Theatre in Western Australia is to close after more than two decades of producing plays.
Officially recorded as the smallest theatre in the world, the Acorn Theatre is based in Gonsells and has less than 30 seats. Whilst its closure will create barely a ripple on the greater theatre scene, it is a significant point in the changing theatre landscape.
The writing was on the wall for the Acorn Theatre late last year when the local Council said the building needed to be demolished after reaching the end of its life. It is known that the building is riddled with asbestos.
Whilst plans for relocation were discussed, the management of the tiny theatre have confirmed that the end will come.
“Sadly it was voted by the members at the AGM to close down Acorn Theatre,” the theatre said in a statement.
“The 2009 committee was voted back in to tidy up all the official loose ends. This is a sad day for community theatre as we say goodbye to Acorn.
“Acorn Theatre was a world where you could leave your troubles at the door and get on with the business of entertaining the public.”
The local council said last year that it was simply not in a position to let the theatre continue operating.
“It’s very difficult to say yes to an extension of a lease knowing full well it does not comply with the building code,” David Harris from Council told the ABC.
The closure of Acorn is perhaps the start of the loss of numerous community-based theatres across the country. As rules, regulations and changing trends roll in, small theatres will become less popular and in some cases will find it too expensive to continue operating.
Theatre fans have vented their sadness at the loss of Acorn Theatre on the Perth-based website Theatre Australia.
“Let it not be a total end. May the spirit live on … somehow,” one poster said.
“Hopefully other theatres will open their arms to the Acornians who wish to continue on their theatre journeys. There was a lot of talent hidden away in the foothills of Gosnells. I hope they have the courage to use that talent on the bigger stages in the community,” said another.