The Show Must Go On

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 By: Sinead Dalton

As the lights begin to dim and the curtains are drawn it is as if time is standing still. All worries, all thoughts begin to vanish as the audience becomes immersed in the lives of those who stand before them. For 85 years the Palais Theatre has allowed people to escape the hustle and bustle of their everyday life and venture into a different reality. If only for a few hours, it is as if the world outside is forgotten.

On the 11th of November, 1927 the Palais Theatre opened its doors for the first time. While many theatres in St Kilda had been christened with the name ‘Palais, ‘ there was something iconic about this theatre that would stand the test of time. Until the 1950’s, the theatre was based as a cinema with outstanding performances from Janet Gaynor in the silent film, ‘Seventh Heaven’. It was one of the main attractions of St. Kilda, bringing people from all over Melbourne together in one room. Over the next three decades a change took place as the theatre began to host musicals, operas and ballets. The sixties ignited the old flame of 1920s musicals such as the Student Prince and New Moon. The seventies brought us the phenomenal Australian Ballet and even the Rolling Stones rocked the hearts of many. However, for this celebration director Louise Hewitt, who has also directed such plays as Neil LaBute’s Some Girls and Mark Andrews’s, Bomb the Base, has brought a production to light that pin points what the Palais Theatre truly represents.

On the 14th of November the lights shone on seven very different and unique plays, all venturing a part of life that the audience can all embrace. At the Water’s Edge is a cleverly crafted collection of plays that explores a rollercoaster of emotions, actions and events. Whether it is through the gut wrenching pain of heartache or even embracing one’s own nakedness, these plays will allow the audience to really explore the significance and individuality of the human mind and self no matter what age they may be. The irony of this is a hidden story behind this production, which highlights the significance of the Palais Theatre. Two of the main actors, Alicia Beckhurst and Alex Beckhurst were both cast as leading parts. After fifteen years apart this production finally brought them and their families back together. Hearing tales of the past, the Palais Theatre has rekindled relationships that may have been lost.

So what is it that makes the Palais Theatre an iconic symbol for the History of St Kilda? As the tram bends round the corner, entering the main street of St Kilda, people become mesmerised by its haunting yet fascinating structure. The Palais Theatre is a place where the audience can come together and unearth emotions, ideas, thoughts that are often suppressed by everyday life. It allows us to rekindle old memories, ask questions about our own lives, and recognise the emotions and conflicts of others. Speaking with Louise, the plays director she spoke of the theatres significance; “writing and acting, when there is that really good marriage of really good writing with really good acting, can give rise to quite strong feeling in the audience.” The intimate surroundings and portrayal of life by the actors allow us to connect with not only ourselves but with life and those around us. As Shakespeare once wrote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. With the Palais Theatre we can jump off that stage, remind ourselves of our past victories, mistakes, relationships and truly recognise our lives and the world around us.


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