The Art of Performance

The first of its kind, this arts hub put Adelaide on the national cultural map. Described as ‘sharp-edged clouds’ and different from anything built before, the geometric concrete shells remain a loved feature of the riverbank precinct.

Brighton Theatre is a fully adaptable venue that can be used for many performances, including awards evenings and graduations. The space also features a state-of-the-art acoustic recording studio.

Her Majesty’s Theatre

Located on the Haymarket, Her Majesty’s Theatre is one of London’s most iconic theatres. The building is a Grade II listed and has been home to record-setting musical theatre runs, including First World War hit Chu Chin Chow and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, which has run at His Majesty’s since 1986 (except during the Covid-19 pandemic theatre closures).

The theatre was designed by C. J. Phipps in the French renaissance style and opened on 28 April 1897 with a play called The Seats of the Mighty by Gilbert Parker. The theatre was owned by Herbert Beerbohm Tree, and he and his actress wife would often star in the presentations at the venue. The theatre has a high-ceilinged French-style dome where Tree used to host private parties.

Her Majesty’s Theatre has a balcony section which offers good value seats at less than half the price of other sections in the theatre. However, the seats are steeply raked and can get quite warm during performances. The legroom is also limited. For best experience, consider seats in other sections.

The spacious foyer is another interesting feature of Her Majesty’s Theatre, with its mirrored walls and marble pillars, refreshment buffet that seems to withdraw quietly into the background, and Louis XV tapestry-covered furniture. The theatre’s original Victorian stage machinery remains beneath the stage, and designer Maria Bjornson made use of it for her spectacular Phantom scene that involves a boat sailing across a lake.

Adelaide Festival Centre

With Adelaide Festival and other major festivals growing rapidly, the need for a dedicated theatre complex became clear. Premier Steele Hall enacted legislation for the construction of a new Adelaide Festival Centre, which would include the Festival Theatre, Playhouse (now Dunstan Theatre), Space, and an amphitheatre. It was Australia’s first capital city arts centre, preceding Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne, and it guaranteed Adelaide’s place on the world stage.

Opening on June 2, 1973, the Adelaide Festival Centre was inaugurated by Lord Mayor Robert Porter and Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. It was a time of great energy and enthusiasm, when arts and culture were acknowledged as central to the creation and maintenance of a vibrant city and society.

The festival centre is home to a number of organisations, including the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Opera South Australia, Adelaide Dance Theatre, and State Theatre Company South Australia. It also hosts major festivals across the year such as Adelaide Cabaret Festival, OzAsia Festival, DreamBIG Children’s Festival and OUR MOB.

During the spring season, Adelaide Festival Centre will feature a wide range of entertaining and inspiring performances for people of all ages. Highlights of the season include Barrie Kosky’s Helpmann Award-winning opera Saul, Australian Dance Theatre’s premiere of Backbone, local company Patch Theatre’s The Lighthouse and Tatzu Nishi’s mesmerising Fire Gardens.

Elder Conservatorium of Music

The Elder Conservatorium of Music (pronounced: /duknsevtrm/) is one of Australia’s premier musical training institutions. It offers undergraduate degrees in classical music, jazz, music theatre, and education, along with graduate diplomas, master’s degrees and a doctorate in performance, music technology, composition and ethnomusicology.

The Conservatorium is housed in the Elder Hall, a magnificent concert venue built at the end of the nineteenth century. Its hammer-beam roof is modelled on that of the Middle Temple in London, and it contains a three-manual Casavant Freres organ. In addition to the hall’s own concert series, it also plays host to performances by other local groups and organisations.

There are several ensembles run by the Conservatorium, including a Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Chorale, and the jazz choir Adelaide Connection. The Conservatorium also maintains a recording studio and an Electronic Music Unit that focuses on music technology, sound production, and sonic arts.

The Conservatorium has been an important training ground for many of Australia’s leading performers and composers. It has had seven incumbents of the Elder Professorship of Music: the oboist Joshua Ives (1884-1901); pianist and arts administrator John Bishop (1902-1948); composer Heribert Esser (1986-93); and singer and tenor David Galliver, OAM (1966-83); the current director of the Conservatorium is the composer Bodman Rae. It is a member of the Association of European Conservatoires, and an associate school of the Helpmann Academy, a body created by the State government to promote collaboration between schools of the performing arts.

Adelaide College of the Arts

The Adelaide College of the Arts is one of those rare tertiary institutions where drama, dance and visual art are all taught in a single location. It has been purpose designed in every detail to achieve excellence in training. Boasting industry-standard performance and exhibition spaces, workshops and studios it is the only place in Australia where you can learn everything from acting and design to fashion and photography all at one convenient campus.

It has two theatre spaces which are used for in-house productions and professional productions during the Adelaide Festival and Fringe season, and it also offers this experience to its dance students. It also houses a number of dance studios which double as performance spaces and a number of music rooms.

The college has an extensive range of courses in its four broad disciplines: acting, movement and voice, performance/production and contextual studies. It is the only Australian college to offer an Advanced Diploma of Acting. Originally introduced at the Centre for the Performing Arts in Grote Street-one of two institutions that folded into the new college in 2001 along with the visual arts focused North Adelaide School of Arts (NASA)-the acting course is overseen by Head of Acting Terence Crawford.

Students are guided through a series of performance projects, from a scare event for Halloween to evacuation role-play days to full-scale musicals and contemporary dance performances. They are stretched and challenged to be as strong a performer as possible to prepare them for further study or professional work, and they are given opportunities to build career-defining networks with their peers in the form of industry workshops and trips to see West End shows.