Theatre needs a hub

My colleague Les Solomon brought up an interesting point in his weekly column last week.

My colleague Les Solomon brought up an interesting point in his weekly column last week.

Les told the story of trying to get a meal and a coffee before seeing Jersey Boys at the Theatre Royal and his story would ring true with many theatre-goers, who have been left with no other option but that large McDonald’s store on George Street when visiting the Royal.

Les is right in that Sydney in some ways lacks a nightlife. Sure, there’s the party scenes, but in terms of an exciting nightlife such as what exists in New York, Sydney sadly lacks credibility.

I recall my first date with my current partner. We went to see The Rocky Horror Show at the Star Theatre (what theatre, I hear you say?) and wanted to grab some dinner afterwards. I was left scratching my head and ended up at Maisys Cafe in Neutral Bay because I knew it served food 24 hours without any doubt.

Sydney most definitely has a problem with its pre-theatre offerings, as Les suggested, but it also has problems with its post-theatre offerings and even offerings for theatre lovers and industry members when major shows aren’t playing.

When the curtain comes down for the night, there is no definite place in Sydney to go. Sure, a bar will always be found to enjoy a late night drink, but what theatre needs is an exciting industry hub that can become the home of the industry.

At times, we have flirted with such an idea.

Back in 2003, when Bar Me was probably at its high as far as producing regular cabaret was concerned, it committed to opening until 4am in an attempt to grab the post-theatre crowd from the city and from the nearby SBW Stables Theatre.

A few years later, the Statement Cabaret Lounge was in full flight and having an underground bar right next door to the venue, and linked with it, was superb. It never realised its true potential but it very much could have become the home for the industry, and a regular haunt for people after shows. However, its strange opening times made it difficult to maintain a presence.

We need an industry bar run by theatre, for theatre. We need an industry bar where audiences, actors and industry folk can combine and drink, eat and be merry well into the night. It would liven up the city.

Times have changed, but there is always room for an exciting, care-free nightlife, and at the moment, Sydney lacks it in spades.

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