The venues | State Library of New South Wales

The venues

The earliest performances in colonial Sydney were staged in fit-ups – areas in houses, shops, sheds and pubs converted into temporary theatre spaces.  The first dedicated theatre in Sydney was as a fit-up established in 1796 by pardoned First Fleet convict, Robert Sidaway. In 1833, the first purpose-built theatre was opened in Sydney – Barnett Levy’s Theatre Royal in George St. The Theatre Royal featured tiered seating for the upper, middle and lower classes and the stage, (raised above the lowest tier of seats) was surrounded by a proscenium arch, forming a frame for the action. This proscenium style was used in most of the purpose-built theatres in Sydney throughout the nineteenth century. Levy’s Theatre Royal burnt down in 1840, but by the mid to late 1800s many other venues had been established. The photographs below show some of Sydney’s many theatres which have come and gone over the last 150 years.

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