The Dover Road
The Brisbane Repertory Theatre Society announced its arrival on Friday 31st July, 1925 with a one night season at the Theatre Royal in Elizabeth Street of A.A.Milne’s comedy The Dover Road directed by Barbara Sisley.
The following day, The Brisbane Courier greeted this inaugural production with enthusiasm:
Nothing was left to chance. The cast was admirably chosen, and the large audience was held by the splendid acting for two hours and three-quarters. The players, one and all, rose to the occasion, and satisfied the sceptics that the repertory movement in Brisbane has come to stay; it will grow from strength to strength; it will "enlarge the communal mind", and prove a "great and joyous power" in our cultural life.
The venue was the Theatre Royal which went on to accommodate eleven of the fourteen major Repertory productions between 1925 and 1928. That the Society chose to open its first production in one of Brisbane’s most prestigious theatres says much about the stature and the professional standards it aspired to from the beginning. Well situated in Elizabeth Street in the city, the Theatre Royal was a favoured venue for touring companies such as J.C.Williamson Ltd., the Taits, the Fullers and the Allan Wilkie Shakespearean Company. With an audience capacity of 1350, the “large audience” reported for The Dover Road’s two-night season might well have been close to 1000 patrons, an astonishing achievement for the newly formed amateur Society.
In a Courier Mail article on Brisbane Repertory (January 30, 1956), eminent Arts journalist Roger Covell reported on that first play:
... everybody with the remotest interest in theatre in Brisbane was there to see the curtain go up and the 12 members of the cast go through their paces. At the back of the stage, in a spirit of realism that can rarely be paralleled before or since, a three course dinner for use in the play was kept warm on a gas ring. Miss Sisley cooked it in her own flat for each of the two evenings that the play performed, and solemnly bore it to the theatre well before the audience were in their seats.
Writer: Christine Comans