About Nash Theatre
A History of N@sh Theatre
By Brad Turnbull
Nash @ Rosalie (1994-1996)
Nash @ New Farm (1996-2004)
Nash on the Move (2004-present)
In 1994, "The Nash" was launched, in the beautiful 1928 School of Arts Memorial Hall at Nash St, Rosalie.
Having been, at different times throughout its history a kindergarten, election centre, flood refuge, dance hall and even a movie theatre (during WWII), The Beverley Theatre (or "Bev") was brought back from neglect by the inspiration of Godfrey Bathurst.
"The Nash" launched its Gala Opening Night on Thursday March 10 1994, with Hugh Leonard's adult comedy 'The Patrick Pearce Motel' directed by Isabel Telford. The cast included Paul McCormack, Simone Hamilton, John E. Regan, Catherine Lamont, David Fawkner, Dana Kingsford and Rob Attenborough.
After many wonderful plays and times at Rosalie - Nash Theatre moved to New Farm - but was almost forced to dim the lights.
The shock of imminent closure, however, brought Brisbane thespians rallying together - and a new rescue attempt was made. A new group of people - including some members of the present committee - concerned by the number of little theatre groups closing their doors, decided to make use of the theatrical facilities offered to them by the ex-president of the Nash Theatre. So, as Maurice McAnany went into hyper-drive, a new committee came into being. The School of Arts in 1938 later became the home of Nash theatre.
In August 1996 The New Farm Nash Theatre Inc. was established, and their first production was the world premiere of (well known Brisbane dramaturg) Eric Scott's 'The First Sunday in December'. Eric generously offered to direct the piece, free of royalties, and the New Nash was up and running!
Beginning on a shoe-string the immediate aim was to attract an audience and to become financially viable. Concentrating on comedy during the first year, Nash offered plays by Alan Ayckbourn, Neil Simon, Georges Feydeau and Willis Hall, with a consistently high standard of production throughout. Having achieved some stability, Nash began to tackle more and more varied and controversial program; plays to stimulate both audience and actors alike - this is the beginning of N@sh exploring the type of material we do best. Dealing with topical issue such as racism, homosexuality, corruption, rape, murder, or even simply the problems faced by several human beings trying to share the same space, and all with a healthy dose of humour thrown in, N@sh program always have something for everyone. While some of these plays have been produced as major films, or began life as novels, nothing beats seeing it live on stage!
Nash's reputation for high standards and stimulating theatre has attracted a devoted following, and 2002 saw us take another bold step. The sale of the Balfour St theatre, and the closure of the lease gave Nash the exciting opportunity to advance both physically and artistically: The program expanded from 6 plays in 2001 to 16 plays for 2002, and our new venue was right in the centre of NEW FARM, fertile ground indeed for the blossoming of the Late Nite Gnash concept - Remember the Valley Twin where Rocky Horror ran for 5 years? Well, we moved on in with an incredible flourish, and converted one cinema into a live venue, while the second space remained as a fully functional cinema. Oh, and when we say flourish, we mean flourish: Nash opened at "The Old Valley Twin" with a visually stunning production of Oscar Wilde's "Salome", directed by Micheal "Mouse" McMahon - and the 2002 season's second production, "Two Weeks With The Queen" by Morris Gleitzman, was a runaway smash hit, with performances sold out for nearly the entire two week run!
2004 opened with the closure of our dreams.
Right after our first production of 2004 was finished, the Nash lease on the Valley Twin was up, and was not being renewed. Since we moved out, the owners returned the cinema with the stage back into a cinema, with the proprietors of the soon to be re-developed Gaythorne Cinema taking over the reigns were we left off. All the best to them, and our thanks to Jimmy and George, (Valley Twin owners) for their open mindedness, frankness, and encouragement through two wonderful years of weird and wonderful theatre. We'll never forget you, guys. (The space has recently reopened as the Valley's newest Live Music venue - "The Globe" to the management of which we also wish the best of luck!)
And so in 2004 a new era - the era of N@sh - had dawned, very much a more geographically flexible era. We secured the use, courtesy of Front Row Theatre, of the Hamilton Town Hall for our second play of 2004 - Medea. Several plays were, in fact, already in rehearsal during this unsettled period, the casts and crews of which were beginning to feel distinctly gypsy-like. Nash stormed back to Fortitude Valley after an agreement was made with the Trinity Anglican church
where we performed one our biggest (and oddest?) crowd pleasers of 2004 - a production of the Shakespeare classic A Midsummer Night's Dream. It couldn't compete, in crowd pleasing stakes, though, with our final production for 2004: Dan James' "twist of lemon" take on Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs - an absolutely incredible effort from everyone involved.
All of which seems to mean our roving gamble is paying off: 2004 was, in fact, been a truly great year for N@sh - one in which we've gone from place to place, and strength to strength, and back and forth to the pub. We've made new friends, forged new "alliances", and broken new ground in all kinds of ways!