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Built in 1921 as the Victory Theatre (cinema), the National Theatre was converted into a live performance venue in 1972-74. It functions today as a community arts centre for over 80 groups including musical comedy performances, dance companies, multi-cultural events and school groups. Annual Festivals are held by groups as diverse as the Latvian Community, major musicals and dance events. Commercial events recently have included Bell Shakespeare, Henry Rollins, Rufus Wainwright and Lily Tomlin. As the events vary it is wise to check the box office.Beneath the theatre in what was the original theatre stalls seating are Australia's oldest performing arts schools. The National Theatre Ballet School was begun in 1939, just a few years after the Drama School in 1936. The Company itself celebrated its 75th birthday in December 2010. The schools offer training for all ages in both unaccredited "hobby" courses as well as Diploma and Advanced Diplomas of Arts. The Ballet School also accepts international students in its full-time courses. Please check online for the drama and ballet school contact details. Historically the conversion saved the bulk of the auditorium and all of the main foyers which are now protected by heritage controls, as is the exterior. The existing building is substantially the 1928 renovation undertaken by then owner Frank Thring Senior, father of the actor. Frank Thring Senior was very involved in both the film making and film distribution businesses in early Australia so the site is important for that reason.The venue itself is open to hire as well as the home of many performances by the schools themselves.
No refunds or exchanges on ticket sales after purchase except as required by law. In the event of a cancellation of the performance, a full refund will be provided.
Immediately behind the Acland Street tourist precinct and two blocks from Luna Park, Palais Theatre and the Saint Kilda Pier. You can reach the National Theatre
easily by Light Rail (96 down Bourke Street). By car down Carlisle Street off the Nepean Highway or down Barkly Street after Saint Kilda Junction if coming from the city.
The National Theatre is open one hour prior to an advertised performance. Schools operate slightly different hours. Call Drama or Ballet to confirm.