Directory of Major Performing Arts Venues and Companies in New South WalesTo Culture
The contemporary concept of acting and theatre was first brought to Australia with the white settlers in 1788. Based on the English theatre traditions of amateur musical comedies and pantomimes, the first theatrical performance in Australia would be held in 1789 to celebrate the birthday of King George III where convicts enacted the comedy 'The Recruiting Officer'.
Australia's first stars of the stage would emerge in the late 1800s in the wake of several international theatrical acts who had toured Australia during the gold rush era. Elevated beyond a simple folly, theatre became the primary source of entertainment in New South Wales and soon local playwrights would be writing screenplays to reflect Australian culture and stories.
The advent of radio and cinema in the 1920s and 30s would shift interest away from theatre and coupled with the Great Depression where live performances were taxed, mainstream theatre experienced a significant downturn. In response, amateur theatre groups would form staging popular theatre standards in their local area. The political climate of the 1960s and 70s would prove fruitful for theatre, with local theatre companies and venues such as Belvoir Street Theatre establishing themselves with a view to produce entertaining yet provocative theatre.
New South Wales is home to distinguished performing arts companies and venues, including the internationally renowned Sydney Theatre Company and the many venues of the Opera House. From contemporary dance to grandiose Opera productions to the much lauded Sydney Festival, New South Wales is today recognised internationally as a force in the arts.