The Queen's Theatre, at the corner of Gilles Arcade and Playhouse Lane in Adelaide's West End, is the oldest purpose-built theatre on mainland Australia.
Built in late 1840, it is of national heritage significance and predated only by the Theatre Royal in Hobart, Tasmania.
The Queen's Theatre is remarkable in that about half of the original above-ground structure still exists and there are significant below-ground remains. The theatre holds a special place in the historical development of Adelaide in both the 19th and 20th centuries.
Built by the Solomon brothers, the Queen's Theatre opened with a performance of Shakespeare's Othello on 11 January 1841. Tough times in South Australia led to the theatre being closed in a little over a year, on 28 November 1842.
Used as law courts until 1847, it reopened as the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1850, only to close a year later with the exodus of families from South Australia to the Victorian gold rushes. Following renovations, the Royal Victoria Theatre reopened in 1859 and closed again in 1868 after the Theatre Royal opened in Hindley Street.
For 80 years the site had various owners and uses, from the City Mission to a horse bazaar and sale yards - through to a factory and showrooms. It came under the ownership of the South Australian Asset Management Corporation and then Heritage SA in the 1980s, when a major archaeological excavation revealed the significant below-ground remains and artefacts.
The Queen's Theatre was reopened as a performance venue at the 1996 Adelaide Festival of Arts with the Australian Opera's The Magic Flute. A highlight of the various productions that followed the reroofing and floor resurfacing, was the launch of the 1998 Festival by Robyn Archer.
In October 2003, the theatre came under the management of the History Trust of South Australia and was repackaged and marketed for hire as a basic, but magical, performance venue complete with echoes of the past.
Arts South Australia has managed the Queen's Theatre since 2010.
Queen's Theatre Hire Policy
Queen's Theatre is an empty shell venue, allowing a hirer to design the space to suit an event. Its versatility means that the theatre can suit a number of different art forms from theatre to dance, music events and visual arts. Venue bookings can be made for arts, cultural or community events only. As such, the hirer should be an arts, non profit or community organisation.
Arts South Australia reserves the right to determine a hirer's eligibility.