Manuscripts, oral history and pictures catalogue
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  • Title
    Independent Theatre records, ca. 1945-1977
  • Creator
  • Call number
    MLMSS 9188/Boxes 1-70
    MLMSS 9188/Box 71X
  • Level of description
  • Date

    ca. 1945-1977
  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Physical Description
    11.7 metres of textual material (70 boxes and 1 outsize box)

    The Independent Theatre is Sydney's oldest extant Theatre. Located at 269 Miller Street North Sydney, it’s a subsidiary of The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (AETT).

    The Independent is a building of national cultural significance and is currently listed, as an item of regional significance, in the Heritage Schedule to North Sydney Council's Local Environmental Plan. Part of the current building dates from 1886 when it was built as a cable tram terminus and depot, prior to being converted converted into two auditoria by North Sydney Coliseum Limited in 1911.

    The Independent Theatre group was founded by Doris Fitton on 30 May 1930. In 1939, the site became the home for Doris Fitton's Independent Theatre group, opening one day prior to the British and Australian declaration of war on Germany over the invasion of Poland. Fitton pioneered creative theatre in Sydney providing over 400 productions of plays ranging from Shakespeare to Noel Coward, from Anoulth and Christopher Fry to the sensational premier of Sumner Locke-Elliot's "Rusty Bugles"

    The theatre continued to operate as the lessee of North Sydney Coliseum Ltd throughout World War II and until 1948 but its tenure was never secure, and there were constant problems with the building, including a fire in 1946. Finally in 1948, after attempts by the owners to convert the site into a furniture warehouse, Theatre Freeholds Ltd, a company formed by supporters of the Independent Theatre, purchased the building for £7000.

    Fitton retired in 1977 and the Independent Theatre, which had been her personal fiefdom, closed. The building was then leased to John Howitt of Playhouse 680 operating in Killara on Sydney's north shore, who changed its name to 269 Playhouse.

    The Independent - History (accessed 22 February 2012)
    Dictionary of Sydney, ‘Independent Theatre’, (accessed 14 August 2013)
  • Scope and Content
    Includes theatre programs, scrap books, minutes, administration and financial records and correspondence, public relations, promotional and publicity material

    BOXES 1-3 / Items 1-15
    Minutes, ca. 1953-1975:
    Board of Directors

    BOXES 3-6 / Items 15a-80
    General files and correspondence, ca. 1962-1976:
    Legal matters
    Manager's correspondence
    Correspondence and other general matters

    BOXES 7-8 / Items 81-121
    Plays and performances, ca. 1967-1977

    BOX 9 / Items 122-132
    Actors and actresses, ca. 1965-1976

    BOX 9 / Items 133-140
    School and children’s plays, ca. 1956-1976

    BOXES 10-20 / Items 141-176
    Scrapbooks and general press, ca. 1945-1977

    BOX 21
    Doris Fritton personal photos and scrapbooks

    BOXES 22-40 / Items 177-344
    Children’s and Non-Australian plays, ca. 1958-1975

    BOX 41
    Scripts: A Case for Libel (Radio Play), Stoackade (Film script), The Cell (TV Script), The Shelter (TV Play)

    BOXES 42-43 / Items 345-563
    Programmes, ca. 1948-1977

    BOXES 44-70
    Financial and administrative records, ca. 1950--1977

    BOX 45
    Artwork. Mock-up of theatre poster ‘Murder in the Cathedral’, plays by Noel Coward and ‘My Fat Friend’, ca. 1975

    BOX 71X
    Petition to Hon Charles Bejamin Cutler for professional stock company of actors, ca. 1969
  • Source
    Transferred from Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts, Sydney Opera House in 1996.
  • Collection History
    Received by the Dennis Wolanski Library in two parts. The first from Doris Fritton in 1975 included portrait, costumes, photographs and scrapbooks, and the second in 1980 from the Independent Theatre building.
  • Access Conditions

    This material is held offsite and can take up to four days to retrieve.
  • Copying Conditions
    Copyright status:: In copyright - This collection has multiple rights owners
    Please acknowledge: : Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
  • Description source

    Information upgraded as part of the Manuscripts Unprocessed eRecords Project 2013-2014
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