The New Fortune Theatre

The New Fortune Theatre at The University of Western Australia (UWA) is unique as an exact reconstruction of the Fortune Playhouse built in London in 1600, the year Hamlet was performed at the rival Globe playhouse. 

Image © Rob Lines 2018

Image: © Rob Lines 2018.

This makes the New Fortune a compelling resource for research, teaching, and performance, offering a stage on which ‘original practices’ can enlighten us about the nature of early modern drama’s capacity to create strong emotional effects in audiences in an intimate but imposing venue. Built in the year of Shakespeare’s 400th birthday, the New Fortune has generated its own eventful history, from the time when Professor Allan Edwards managed to persuade the architects of the Arts Building that an open-air Elizabethan theatre would enhance the ambience. Since then it has been used by international visiting companies and by local groups such as GRADS, it has built a loyal following from alumni over the years, and has been used as a valuable teaching resource for Shakespeare courses.

The project examined its history and current uses and has resulted in a documentary, Old Emotions on the New Fortune Stage (see link below); and a book, The New Fortune Theatre: That Vast Open Stage, edited by Ciara Rawnsley and Robert S. White (UWA Publishing, 2018). The book traces the New Fortune's romantic origins and history, and debates the scholarly issues raised by such an historically significant theatre. Essays by international scholars, critics and practitioners who have all been involved with the New Fortune are richly illustrated by rare archival images. The book is an invaluable work of scholarship in theatre history and the history of emotions.

Image: Bob White






ISBN: 9781742589725  

Browse the history and highlights



Acknowledgments are due to the former UWA archivist, Erin Fraser, and the team of energetic volunteers who compiled the invaluable collection of theatre archives for AuStage, now in UWA's Reid Library, including at last eighteen oral histories. Thanks especially to Joan Pope, Bill Dunstone, Collin and Philippa O’Brien, Geoffrey Bolton, Katharine Brisbane, Juliet Ludbrooke and Faith Clayton.

We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of other colleagues to this project, including Steve Chinna, Kathryn Prince, Rob Lines, Aarne Neeme, John Bell, Grant Malcolm,Ted Snell, Krishna Sen, Pam Bond, Katrina Tap, Tim Fitzpatrick, Andrew Gurr and Ralph Cohen.