Ballarat National Theatre

Our History

History of Ballarat National Theatre Inc

In March 1938 the Mayor of Ballarat - Cr. J.H. Trekardo - chaired a public meeting at which the Bishop of Ballarat – Rt. Rev.W.H. Johnson – proposed the following motion:-

That this meeting of citizens of Ballarat affirms the desirability of forming a branch of the National Theatre movement in this city.

Two years earlier Miss. Gertrude Johnson OBE had formed 'The National Theatre Movement, Victoria' in Melbourne. At the instigation of Dame Nellie Melba she had gone off to train and work in Europe.

Indeed it was whilst appearing as Musetta to Melba's Mimi in the great diva's Old Vic Farewell that Gertrude saw the wonderful work being done by Lilian Baylis to form a national theatre and training school in the U.K. which encouraged her to decide to try and form a network of companies throughout Australia.

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Patron Jacki Weaver


Patron - Jacki Weaver

Jacki has been our Patron since 2005.

She follows in the footsteps of Leo McKern

One of Australia's best loved and most respected performers since she began her career in 1962, whether on stage, movies or television. Jacki has won numerous Best Actress awards, for her moving portrayal of Joy Gresham in Shadowlands, and what critics called ‘a brilliant performance’ as Dr Gorgeous in The Sisters Rosensweig. Jacki has AFI awards for the films Animal Kingdom, Caddie and Stork, a Logie for Do I Have To Kill My Child? and a Variety Club Heart Award for They're Playing Our Song in which she starred with John Waters for two years.

Jacki studied drama at Doris Fitton's Independent Theatre in North Sydney and some of her theatre credits include Born Yesterday, Six Degrees of Separation, The Real Thing, Love Letters, Away and Shadowlands for the Sydney Theatre Company; Emerald City, Blithe Spirit, Joe Egg, Daylight Saving, The Sisters Rosenweig, Shadowlands and Navigating for the Melbourne Theatre Company; Navigating for the Queensland Theatre Company; A Streetcar Named Desire, The Three Sisters, The Imaginary Invalid, Love's Labour's Lost, You Never Can Tell, Forget Me Not Lane and The Legend of King O'Malley for the Old Tote; The Removalists, Rockola, The Seagull, Tom and After Magritte for Nimrod.

Among Jacki's film credits are Picnic At Hanging Rock, Petersen, The Perfectionist, Squizzy Taylor, Stork, The Removalists, Caddie, Alvin Purple, Cosi and most recently Animal Kingdom for which she received an Oscar Nomination (and many other awards and accolades) for her role as Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody, although very well known and highly respected in Australia this is Jacki’s first Oscar nomination.

Her television credits include The Girl From Moonooloo, Trial By Marriage and House Rules which were written especially for her; the mini-series Water Under The Bridge and The Challenge; eight years as a panelist on ABC TV's Would You Believe.

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50 Golden Years50 Golden Years

For the 50th Anniversary celebrations of BNT Past President Sonja Kinnersly compiled a history of the company. She has prepared a summary of this history.

This history is followed by a brief look forward to the following 25 years. A detailed history of these years will follow shortly.

Ballarat National Theatre - The First Fity Years

On 23 March 1938 the following article appeared in the Ballarat Courier:

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