KeywordsTheatres; Repertory theatre company
In 1952 John Sumner was appointed manager of the University of Melbourne s Union Theatre. Within twelve months of his appointment, the professional stage manager from London s West End proposed that the University Board underwrite the company. The Board accepted his proposal and in 1953 the Union Theatre Repertory Company (UTRC) became Australia s first professional repertory company. In 1954 Sumner moved to Sydney to manage the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, and Ray Lawler was appointed Director (1955-1956). The result was a collaboration of the two companies to produce Lawler s work 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll', which received both national and international acclaim. In 1956 Wal Cherry succeeded Lawler as Artistic Director. However this was short lived with Sumner returning to administer the company in 1959. Sumner remained with the company until 1987 seeing it through its Golden Age . This included its expansion and move to Russell Street in 1966, its name change to Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) in 1967, its subsequent moves to St Martin's Theatre in South Yarra, the Athenaeum in Collins Street, and the Playhouse Theatre in 1984. The Company s works continue to be produced at the Melbourne Arts Centre, including in the Fairfax Studio space, and the purpose built Sumner and Lawler theatres in the Southbank Theatre from 2009. Recognised as the oldest professional theatre company in Australia the MTC celebrated its sixtieth anniversary in 2013.
Selected Reference: < http://www.mtc.com.au/about/the-company/history/>