History of SoACT

1859. First recorded Theatrical production in Wagga Wagga The Lady of Lyons performed in the Squatters Hotel

10 June 1859 – First meeting held to establish the Mechanics Institute forerunner to the School of Arts .

20 July 1859 – Mechanics Institute established with the aim of providing a library, billiards, chess, guest speakers and staging debates.

1901 – Wagga Wagga School of Arts Building in Fitzmaurice St opened.

1914-1946 – School of Arts becomes umbrella organisation for Film Society, Ladies Choir, Pottery Classes. E Fenn Lusher proposes the establishment of a literary and Dramatic society within the School of Arts and in 1944 Players group formed.

1940 – SOA library opened to members of the general public as the Public Lending Library of the Wagga Wagga School of Arts.

1945 – First production by the Players Group, Somerset Maugham’s Home and Beauty under the direction of Joyce Holmes.

1946 – Council assumes responsibility for the public library and books and fittings transferred to the City Council.

Post WW 2, plans devised for School of Arts to obtain a live theatre. Proposal to buy the Oxford theatre or to take control of a large hall at the Kapooka Military base discussed.

1952 – School of Arts Players stage the musical Sally 1700 patrons in four nights.

1954 – First Annual Festival of One Act plays under the direction of Eileen Watts.

1956 – City Council first approaches School Of Arts with the proposition to sell its assets to fund a public library

2 July1959 – Agreement entered into with City Council to transfer School of Arts Assets to the City Council to support the building of the Civic Theatre.

1960 – Civic Function to mark the hand over of 30,000 pounds to City Council, the first of what eventually become payments of 110,000 pounds

1961 – Formal agreement signed with City Council to sell Sale of School of Arts properties in support of construction of the Civic Theatre.

1963 – Civic Theatre opened at a total cost of 288,000 pounds. School of Arts Players provides dramatic share of the opening with a production of Tea House of the August Moon under the professional direction of Anne Godfrey Smith.

18 March 1964 – Formal agreement with City Council for School of Arts to take up residence in the Basement of the Civic Theatre and to have control of rehearsal rooms; have priority in booking Civic Theatre and to receive an annual grant in recognition of the society’s contribution to the building of the Civic Theatre.

1964 – First production in the Civic Theatre under the direction of a member of the School of Arts Players, “Johnny Belinda” directed by Diana Nicol.

1964 – Annual Festival of Plays transfers from St Andrew’s Hall to Civic Theatre.

??? – Annual Festival of Plays transfers to Riverina Playhouse.

1998 – Final Annual Festival of Plays as Civic Theatre closes for refurbishment. School of Arts takes up temporary accommodation in TAB Corp building Fitzmaurice St .

1999 – Blabbermouth under the direction of Anna Swift produced in Basement Theatre as the last production before the refurbishment completed. School of Arts produces in a variety of Venues including Romano’s Hotel, Cafes, The Commercial Club and the Old Library Building in Gurwood St.

2000 – Civic Theatre re-opens with first ‘official’ production the premiere performance of the musical Rebound by Johnny Chester under the direction of Diana Nicol.

2000 – First production in the Refurbished Basement Picasso at the Lapin Agile under the direction of Scott Howie.

2001 – Basement Theatre licensed for Public Entertainment under the control of The Wagga Wagga School of Arts.

2003 – SoACT stages its first production in the Wollundry Amphitheatre, All The World’s A Stage, six short plays under the direction of Liz Woods, Cassie Charlton and Chrissie Bolton

2005 – SoACT celebrates sixty years of continuous theatre production in Wagga with a season including Mother Hicks, Things We Do For Love, Cruising Close to Crazy and Sylvia.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Fifty Years of Performing Arts in Wagga – June Dunn
A History of the Wagga Wagga School of Arts – Margaret Bullman

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