Thursday, 16 May 2013

Spirited performances in her honour

Designed in 1930 by both Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, the Haven Scenic Theatre is built around and across one of the many gullies that cut through the peninsuls and take heavy rains down to Middle Harbour. MMG was the more theatrical of the two, it was she who was into producing, into interior design, into community involvement. MMG was involved in production, set and costume design for more than 12 plays at the theatre, but I am unable to locate a list. Both the Griffins were active in music, play reading and discussion groups, tree planting and bushland conservation activities. They lived their ethics and their passions. MMG has been called a 'square bohemian'. She was volatile, yet strict.

Walter died in India in 1937 [from peritonitis], and MMG returned to Sydney briefly, before returning permanently to Chicago. She 'donated' the Haven Scenic Theatre to Willoughby Council, and it went into decline. It stayed that way from about 1950 until 1976, when a dynamic committee was formed to renovate the site, and breathe lifeblood back into theatre in the suburb. The list of 'shows' since then [6commencing with Wilde's 'Salome', and including one concise version of 'Midsummer Night's Dream'], is long and varied, with maybe three shows per year.

The committee runs the theatre side of the venue, whereas Willoughby Council provides the landscape maintenance. It was one of these landscapers to whom I spoke about the spirit of MMG as I sat in reverie on the bleachers.


Kay L. Davies said...

Your photos are portraits even without people in them, Julie. You have such a gift!

FigMince said...

At the right time of the year, they could do an adaptation of 'Day Of The Locust' and call it 'Night Of The Crickets'.

Joan Elizabeth said...

I really like the bottom shot. Everyting just as it should be, gum nuts, leaves, lichen and stone.