New hope for theatre’s future

New hope for theatre’s future

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Roleystone Theatre committee member Sherrill Wallis and treasurer, director and actor Bradley Towton. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

It was standing room only at Armadale council this week as more than 70 people dressed in a sea of yellow “Save our Theatre shirts” turned out to show their support for one of Roleystone’s oldest buildings. 

The city’s Community Services Committee meeting on Tuesday was the first hurdle for the group as the future of the 1922 building was discussed. 

Several rounds of questions were taken from the public before the committee discussed the hot topic of the night, which resulted in councillor Colin Campbell admitting the city “had dropped the ball” on the ongoing maintenance of the city’s municipal heritage listed building. 

A council report outlining the activities and aspirations of the Roleystone Theatre group, the usage of the building and options for the building moving forward was presented to the committee with costing options for new concept plans totalling between $1,657,000 and $3,648,000. 

The officer’s recommendation presented to the committee to undertake further concept design work and consider other options was however overshadowed with an alternate motion presented by councillor Mark Geary. 

Mr Geary’s alternate motion to commit to the reopening of the Roleystone Theatre and proceed with finalising a design that reflects the current scale of the building was met with a massive round of applause and a few tears from the supporters in the public gallery. 

The alternate motion was supported by committee members unanimously and will now be taken to the next ordinary council meeting on December 17. 

Roleystone Theatre life member and committee member Bree Hartley said the feeling in the room when the alternate motion was read out was indescribable. 

“Our ideal home would be a fit for purpose theatre, such as the one we have operated from for decades,” she said. 

“Whatever the outcome of the theatre building issues, we will have to make a temporary home to enable our activities to continue and for us to serve our community. 

“Modifications to make the Roleystone Hall even remotely usable as a small theatre will take time and money and even then we will not be able to present a full range of productions at that particular venue. 

“In addition, we hold concerns that if the Roleystone Hall is converted sufficiently to become a truly effective theatre venue that the community would no longer have a hall in the true sense of the word, a meeting place that is able to suit multiple uses.” 

The next hurdle for the group is the outcome at the next council meeting on December 17.