Welcome speech from La Boite Theatre Company's Board Chair, Julian Myers:
Senator Joanna Lindgren, Senator for Queensland (representing the Federal Arts Minister the Honourable George Brandis, also a proud Queenslander), Ms Grace Grace MP, Member for Brisbane Central, distinguished guests, fellow Board members, ladies and gentlemen and all cherished supporters of La Boite, new and old, it is wonderful to see you all here tonight to help celebrate this important milestone for La Boite.
Firstly, many thanks to Queensland Senator Joanna Lindgren who is tonight representing the Federal Arts Minister the Honourable George Brandis and to Ms Grace Grace MP, Member for Brisbane Central who is here tonight representing the Premier of Queensland and Arts Minister the Honourable Anastacia Palaszczuk.
We are most grateful for your attendance here tonight and for taking the time to prepare a few words about La Boite on the occasion of our 90th birthday. Before I formally introduce our guests, I thought I would first say a few words myself about our celebrations.
I have only been allocated a few minutes this evening to talk – probably a wise choice. If there is one thing I have learned over my time with La Boite, it is that performances should be left to the experts!
Nevertheless, a risk has been taken in allowing me to take the stage and given the enormous significance of tonight’s celebration, I want to make the most of it.
And let’s be perfectly clear, the achievements of this iconic company over 90 years are indeed momentous.
My role tonight is not to give a history lesson of La Boite’s 90 years – there has been much work done on documenting and cataloguing the rich history and there are numerous of people here tonight who could speak with much more authority than me.
Nevertheless, it is appropriate for me to make some historical comments. 90 years ago, in 1925, on this very day, also co-incidentally a Friday night, the society which was to become the La Boite Theatre Company opened its doors for the very first time. In fact, this was a full 2 months before the commencement of City of Brisbane as we know it today – before the Brisbane City Council and before the first Lord Mayor of Brisbane took office in October of that year!
Hence, we can say with pride that our wonderful theatre company actually pre-dates the city itself!
In 1925, there were about 200,000 people in Brisbane and it is said that one of the first performances of Dover Road may have drawn an audience of close to 1,000 people.
La Boite, then as now, demonstrated its relevance to the community from which it was born.
The Brisbane Courier published a glowing review of the production – and of course has published countless reviews since. However, when I look with the benefit of hindsight at what was written of that first performance in 1925, there was something rather prophetic about it. The Courier wrote:
“There is something out of the ordinary here”
There certainly was, and always has been.
To survive, flourish, adapt and stay relevant over 90 years, is no simple feat and it is this feat and the people behind it who we celebrate tonight - a 90 year life that has touched many others.
Many of these people, myself included, are here tonight. And of course La Boite has outlived many others who cannot be. Such it is with any 90th birthday party.
And again with any 90th birthday party, tonight there is a gathering of new generations – young and fresh perspectives and new energy – a hallmark of La Boite across the years.
But of course, unlike any normal 90th birthday party, we don’t tonight reminisce on the basis that the best days are behind our guest of honour. Quite the contrary.
Instead, we anticipate with excitement what La Boite will do next – over the next ten years to its hundredth birthday and over another 100 years after that.
What is clear, though, is that whatever happens next will require the support of everyone here tonight. To continue to deliver exhilarating theatre, to be deep, daring and diverse, to provide a foundation – a springboard – for such incredible depth of creative talent, all of us here from individuals, to organisations to the State and Federal Governments need to keep believing in what La Boite can achieve and help us achieve it.
But for tonight – let’s just celebrate!