Old Theatres Reborn

Old Theatres Reborn

Rod Bertram from Rod’s Sound and Lighting Services gives us an overview of two newly renovated venues that he has helped re-launch in Sydney.

When the Rockdale Town Hall (www.rockdale.nsw.gov.au) was closed down three years ago, due to the discovery of asbestos that delayed a renovation, nobody knew what to expect when it re-opened.

Those attending the first few productions in the venue have been delighted with the upgrade. Groups who have put on shows here are ecstatic with how modern it is.

Rockdale Town Hall was built in 1940. It has a striking sandstone and red brick entrance. The interior of the hall has elaborate art deco style plaster details on the walls and ceiling. The refurbishment, which cost the local council over four million dollars, has been faithful to this style. Even the air conditioning units have been integrated into a stylish art deco mould.

Other new facilities include tiered seating, a spectacular new bar and way overdue upgrades to the dressing rooms.

The “techies” like me love the full JBL line array speakers with sound capabilities to run digital consoles without having to run cables throughout the building and automated fly bars for scenery and lighting.

Rod’s Sound and Lighting Services is proud to be one of Council's authorised suppliers for this venue. Both productions that have been put on have been successful for the Rockdale Musical Society.

The Town Hall has experienced a few teething problems initially, including power surges into the dimmer racks, meaning additional external equipment had to be brought into the building to overcome the issue. These power surges have now been rectified.

Another venue we are proud to be preferred supplier of is the new Bryan Brown Theatre (www.bryanbrowntheatre.com.au) which is located in the Bankstown Library and Knowledge Centre.

The original Bankstown Town Hall was officially opened by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1973. In 1977, the Town Hall Manager persuaded Council to invest in the production and promotion of a theatre restaurant. It went ‘against the trend’ at the time, however ‘it took off like a rocket’ and became one of the most successful theatre restaurants in Sydney.

This venue has now been transformed into a state-of-the-art 300-seat theatre.

Highlights of this theatre include: new theatre seating, reinstated 18 counterweight fly lines, new digital sound system and lighting rig.

This venue has only been opened for a couple of weeks but already esteemed professionals such as Mark Vincent, and Bryan Brown himself, have graced the stage.

There is no allocated space for an orchestra so theatre groups with one will need to get creative with where they position them.

Overall when working in a newly renovated space there are always highs and lows which work themselves out.  It is the challenges which help create creative minds to “think outside the square” to make sure that their production works in the designated performance space.

Originally published in the May / June 2014 edition of Stage Whispers.

Images: (top) Rockdale Musical Society’s latest production of “Next to Normal” at the newly renovated Rockdale Town Hall and Mark Vincent performing at the Grand Opening Gala Event at the Bryan Brown Theatre.