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Queen's Theatre  |  About the Theatre  




The Queen's Theatre is no longer managed by History SA.

As of 1 July 2010 the management of the Queen's Theatre has been given to Arts SA.

For enquiries please contact Fiona Hann on phone: 08 8463 5484


The Queen's Theatre in Gilles Arcade/Playhouse Lane is the oldest purpose-built theatre on mainland Australia. Built in late 1840, it is of national heritage significance. The only theatre in Australia that predates it is the Theatre Royal in Hobart, Tasmania. The Queen's Theatre is remarkable in that approximately half of the original above-ground structure survives and there are significant below-ground remains.

The Queen's Theatre holds a special place in the historical development of Adelaide in both the 19th and 20th centuries.

Built by the Solomon brothers, the Queen's Theatre opened with a performance of Shakespeare's Othello on 11 January 1841. Times were tough in South Australia and the theatre closed in a little over a year, on 28 November 1842. Used as law courts until 1847, it reopened as the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1850 to close a short year later with the exodus of families from South Australia to the Victorian gold rushes. After renovations, the Royal Victoria Theatre reopened in 1859 only to close again in 1868 after the Theatre Royal opened in Hindley Street.

For 80 years the site had various owners and uses, from the City Mission and a horse bazaar and sales yards through to a factory and showrooms. It came under the ownership of the South Australian Asset Management Corporation and then Heritage SA in the 1980s, when a major archaeological excavation revealed the significant below-ground remains and artefacts.

The Queen's Theatre was reopened as a performance venue at the 1996 Adelaide Festival of Arts with the Australian Opera's The Magic Flute. A highlight of the various productions that followed the reroofing and floor resurfacing, was the launch of the 1998 Festival by Robyn Archer.

In October 2003, the theatre came under the auspices of the History Trust of South Australia and was repackaged and marketed for hire as a basic, yet magical, performance venue complete with echoes of the past. 






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