Bites… of interest

The Genesian Theatre sign.
The Genesian Theatre.

Emma by Jane Austen 

A play at the Genesian Theatre

The audience in this little theatre, has way too much invested in this play. There’s Mr Knightley declaring that he has never felt like a brother to Emma and there’s the audience holding its breath to find out what happens next.

The Genesian theatre has been at 420 Kent Street Sydney since 1954.
The Genesian theatre has been at 420 Kent Street Sydney since 1954.

And then, there’s an audible sigh as Emma and Mr Knightly move away into the ballroom away from the view of the audience.

This is not an audience of high school teenagers. These people are way, way older and from every different corner of the globe and really they should know better. Where is their sophistication?

Who hangs on to the words of actors in a play on a stage in Sydney?

Well, actually, this audience does.

This is what community theatre should feel like, people who are invested in the characters and the play.

People, who wait with bated breath for scenes that they surely already know.

Not only that – everyone in the audience has probably read Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ and probably multiple times, but the way the audience hangs onto every word uttered by Emma and Mr Knightley, you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

At the very end as Mr Knightley holds both of Emma’s hands, the audience is literally on the edge of their seats – they have got to know how this play ends, but there they are again, literally holding their breath as they wait to find out whether Mr Knightley will tell Emma that he loves her and whether Emma will respond to his declaration.

Emma and Mr Knightley.
Emma and Mr Knightley. Photo credit: Craig O’Regan

It’s great.

It’s the audience’s performance that makes the play great.

Tucked away at 420 Kent St, Sydney between the not so tall buildings made of brick and sandstone that make up that part of Sydney, sits the Genesian Theatre.

Housed within the former St John’s Church,it has a 73-year old history and certainly seems to be still going strong.

The theatre is full and two gentlemen for some unknown reason end up standing throughout the course of the play – they do not seem to have seats.

The building itself is beautiful and so redolent of old fashioned theatre because that is truly what it is. The red velvet curtains, the old red covered seats and the thrill of the audience.

$2.00 for coffee, $2.00 for tea, $1.00 for soft drinks, $5.00 for a glass of wine and $2.00 for a program. A great night out.

Emma was performed at the Genesian Theatre from July-August 2017.

© Suganthi Singarayar 2018

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