Right: Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch and Sam Strong. Photo by @facesofbrisbane
Below right: Eric Scott with Queensland Theatre Executive Director Amanda Jolly and Julian Messer. Photo by Deanne Scott
After almost 50 years Queensland Theatre is set to open its own home theatre. The Bille Brown Studio is currently undergoing a multi-million-dollar refurbishment and in October will become a 351-seat Bille Brown Theatre with a state-of-the-art corner stage.
The Minister for the Arts, the Hon. Leeanne Enoch visited the Bille Brown Theatre (images available on request), marking three months until it will be the home of playwright David Williamson’s new work, Nearer the Gods.
This is another major coup for Queensland Theatre, and Artistic Director Sam Strong. In 2017 the company reached its largest audience ever – more than 188,450 saw a show and the season included the highest grossing show ever in Queensland and a 20-year high for season ticket holders.
The company is making good on Strong’s ambition to lead from Queensland – creating Queensland exclusives and becoming the home of new Australian stories. Launching the Bille Brown Theatre is a major part of this commitment.
“The Bille Brown Theatre is a once in a generation transformation for Queensland Theatre. It’s a rare opportunity to build the ideal theatre experience from the ground up,” said Strong.
“The transformed Bille Brown Theatre will provide the hub from which we can continue to share the work of Queenslanders with the rest of the country – cementing Queensland Theatre’s reputation as the fastest growing and most watched theatre company around Australia. I’m also incredibly proud to be opening the new theatre by personally directing the latest play by Australia’s greatest storyteller, David Williamson.”
Some of the country’s biggest stars will christen The Bille Brown Theatre - Nearer the Gods stars Matthew Backer (Switzerland), William McInnes (SeaChange, Time of our Lives) and Rhys Muldoon (House Husbands) while the company’s finale to Season 2018 Hedda stars Wentworth’s Danielle Cormack.
“Finally, the theatre will be a very welcome addition to Brisbane’s arts infrastructure. It will be the city’s first corner stage - creating the uniquely intimate experiences that contemporary audiences crave. It will also form the centre from which we can engage more with regional Queensland, as well as increasing the resources that we can commit to small to medium companies and independent artists,” said Strong.
The total cost of the renovation project is $5.5 million. Of that, $4 million has already been raised through a $2 million grant from the State Government. The company has embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise the final $1.5 million and has already raised over $1 million from enthusiastic and generous donors.
Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch praised Queensland Theatre’s efforts to leverage the Queensland Government investment and lock in final funding for the Bille Brown Theatre. “Queensland Government’s $2 million investment will help give Queensland Theatre the space it needs to foster Queensland artists, present innovative new work and take a leadership role in partnering with some of our smaller companies,” Minister Enoch said. “This government continues to advocate for the arts and supports Queensland Theatre as it secures additional investment.”
Queensland Theatre Executive Director Amanda Jolly said Queensland Theatre was now calling on support from theatre lovers, fans and corporate supporters of all shapes and sizes to help reach the final figure before the doors open for Nearer the Gods on Saturday October 6.
“We are inviting Queenslanders to TAKE A SEAT a seat – literally! We have the incredible opportunity for theatre fans to be part of Queensland Theatre’s history by making a personalised dedication (or gifting it to a friend) on one or more chairs in the new Bille Brown Theatre” said Ms Jolly.
How to support: A tax-deductible donation of $1,250 or more gains a chair with a dedication inscribed on a plaque affixed to its back. Donations can be spread over two to five years if desired. All funds raised will help to fill the theatre with chairs, create outstanding productions, realise the potential of great artists, support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytelling, expand regional programs and deliver world-class Education and Youth Programs.