Darlinghurst natives would be familiar with the beautiful old Burton Street Tabernacle, sitting on the corner of Burton and Palmer Streets. The church was a favourite place of worship for over 100 years – until an ageing population combined with new people moving into the area saw parishioner numbers decline.
The last service was held in 1996 and for years the historic building was in a state of disrepair, until the City acquired ownership in 2004. This November, the deserted building will raise the curtain on a brand new theatre called Eternity Playhouse – the city’s first new major theatre in six years!
The theatre gets its name from one of the most prolific and uplifting Sydney identities – ‘pavement scribe’ Arthur Stace. Stace was responsible for carving the word ‘Eternity’ into Sydney’s streets – and our collective memories (the iconic copperplate signature was commemorate by renowned contemporary artist Martin Sharp, illuminated the Sydney Harbour Bridge during our 2000 New Year’s Eve celebrations and featured in the Sydney Olympics).
Stace was the son of Mauritian immigrants and brother to chronic alcoholics and prostitutes. He suffered a tumultuous life between institutions, WWI and an ongoing battle with alcohol – until in 1932, he was inspired by a sermon at Burton Street Tabernacle, heeding the rallying cry to ‘shout eternity through the streets of Sydney’. Stace vowed thereafter to stop drinking and each morning for over 20 years set out to pen the word ‘Eternity’ across the city. It is said he wrote the word over a million times. Not bad for a man who was virtually illiterate!
‘Eternity’ will be in the limelight once again, marking the floor of this sensational 200-seat theatre, currently leased by the Darlinghurst Theatre Company. The Playhouse will open with Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, the seminal 20th Century play that launched the playwright’s career. Based on a true story, it tells of a mid-Western family torn apart by a shameful secret.
All My Sons
Presented by the Darlinghurst Theatre Company
Directed by Iain Sinclair
Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst
Tickets from $30
The season runs from 6 November – 1 December.
For more info or to book, visit darlinghursttheatre.com or phone the box office on 02 8356 9987.