CIVIC CENTRE WOES: Gympie’s performing arts community wants the council to upgrade the Heritage Theatre. Pictured are Zodiac Players Ian Wensel, Donna Lyden, Nick Rinehart, Peter Blyth, Monika Habel, Char South and Ken Welton.
CIVIC CENTRE WOES: Gympie’s performing arts community wants the council to upgrade the Heritage Theatre. Pictured are Zodiac Players Ian Wensel, Donna Lyden, Nick Rinehart, Peter Blyth, Monika Habel, Char South and Ken Welton. Tanya Easterby

‘Outdated theatre’ on Zodiac Players agenda

THE head of Gympie's Zodiac Players and director of Dimboola, which has its final performance in Gympie tonight, has been invited to attend a closed-door meeting with Gympie Regional Council over the condition of the Civic Centre's Heritage Theatre.

Performing arts stalwart Peter Blyth has made no secret of his issues with the theatre, which he says is so outdated he cannot stage live productions there because it costs up to $15,000 to hire the sound and lighting equipment the Heritage Theatre lacks.

Mr Blyth and the president of the Gympie Musical Union, Darren Walker, made a detailed submission to the council early last year, listing their concerns with the theatre.

They said urgent attention needed to be given to the acquisition of enough weights to make the theatre's weights system safe and fully usable, the installation of a new digital sound system and relocation of the amplifiers, installation of a new digital lighting panel, gradual upgrading of the current lighting with LED equipment, and extension of the orchestra pit and lining of the pit to reduce echo and poor acoustics there.

Mr Blyth said he had a meeting with Councillor Rae Gate and council staff a few months later at the theatre but had never received a full response to his submission - only an email from a council staffer advising him the council would not pursue the weights because the Zodiac Players did not intend to produce a musical in 2012.

The reason no musical was produced was because the group could not afford the sound and lighting equipment.

With the decision to go ahead this year with Dimboola in the Senior Citizens Centre, Mr Blyth is once again trying to get the issue on the council's agenda.

He was invited to present his case to the council next week, but will be inspecting the Burdekin Theatre with the Burdekin council.

"The theatre has approximately 50 more seats than Gympie's and I would think the council is of similar size," Mr Blyth said.

"It's fully equipped and the council has a policy of supporting its theatre groups and encourages the use of the theatre.

"Because of the support from their councillors they apparently have an active performing arts community."

Gympie Times


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