The Earl Arts Centre is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Thursday October 11 with a special community performance. Hundreds have come through its doors over the past quarter-century, but there are still features of the building unknown to many of its fans. For example:
It used to be a cottage
The space behind the Princess Theatre used to be occupied by a small cottage. It was bought by a fundraising committee around 1993, who had long campaigned for a smaller arts venue than the 1000-capacity theatre next door. They came up with the 186-seat Earl Arts Centre to fill that need.
There is a substation in the middle of it
After the cottage was bought and the plans begun for the construction of a new addition onto the Princess Theatre, there was still one problem. A electrical substation owned by Hydro Tasmania stood between the theatre and the land the committee wanted for the new space. It would have cost about $3 million to remove the substation, which is filled with specialist high-voltage equipment. So, Hydro Tasmania simply allowed the planners to build around it. There was one proviso: that the doors were big enough to get heavy machinery inside if it was ever needed. And so the substation remains in the Earl Arts Centre, and the architect incorporating its presence accounts for the boxy, oddly-angled design of the entrance into the foyer.
The ceiling is Japanese rice paper
The grey-and-black patterned ceiling of the Earl Arts Centre foyer has only been there since 2015. It was hand painted onto Japanese rice paper by artist Sue Henderson as part of Ten Days on the Island in 2015. It was originally intended as an artwork, and is now a permanent part of the centre thanks to a donation from the artist’s family.
There is no flytower
The theatre term flytower refers to a system of machinery that can quickly move around and assemble complex set pieces. The Earl Arts Centre doesn’t have one, which has encouraged companies to be creative using lighting and simple set pieces to communicate location and atmosphere.
The Earl Arts Centre’s 25-year anniversary show is showing on Thursday October 11 at 3pm and 11pm. The Encore Theatre Company, Just Imagine Youth Drama School, the Launceston Competitions, Launceston Musical Society, Launceston Players, Launceston Youth Theatre Ensemble and Three River Theatre Company will each perform a beloved excerpt from their repertoires.
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