Built in 1920 as the Victory Theatre (a cinema), the National Theatre was converted into a live performance venue in 1972-74. It functions today as a community arts centre for over 70 groups including musical comedy performances, dance companies, multi-cultural events and school groups. Annual Festivals are held by groups as diverse as the Latvian Community, Surfing Films and the St Kilda Writers' Festival. Commercial events recently have included Janis Ian, Henry Rollins, Rufus Wainwright and Edgley Productions' Swan Lake. School holidays usually feature the Reel Holidays programme - recent release films shown at very low prices (usually free to adults accompanied by children). As the events vary it is wise to check the box office on 95254611.
Beneath the theatre in what was the original theatre stalls seating are Australia's oldest performing arts schools. The National Theatre Ballet School was begun in 1939, just a few years after the Drama School in 1936. The Company itself celebrates its 70th birthday in December 2005. The schools offer training for all ages in both unaccredited "hobby" courses as well as Diploma and Advanced Diplomas of Arts. The Ballet School also accepts international students in its full-time courses. Drama contact is 95340223 and Ballet 95340224.
Historically the conversion saved the bulk of the auditorium and all of the main foyers which are now protected by heritage controls, as is the exterior. The existing building is substantially the 1928 renovation undertaken by then owner Frank Thring (snr), father of the actor. Frank Thring Snr was very involved in both the film making and film distribution businesses in early Australia so the site is important for that reason.
The venue itself is open to hire as well as the home of many performances by the schools themselves.
03 9525 4611
20 Carlisle St
St Kilda South, Victoria, 3182
Bicycle Rack, Kiosk, Picnic Area, Public Telephone, Shaded Area, Sheltered Area, Visitor Information Centre
Experiences you can enjoy at National Theatre:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Educational Tourism, Historic/Heritage