Australia Melbourne State Theatre

I have frequented this theatre for decades. Back in the 80s, when the Australian Ballet moved from the Palais in Saint Kilda to the newish state theatre my then wife and I subscribed to seats in the stalls. J46 and 47 from memory. J1 and J46 of the only seats in the stalls that are easily wheelchair accessible, without steps. Access however, is through the back corridors past the artists’ changing rooms and (at least in those days) a parade of opera and ballet costumes. It was also necessary to transfer into the seat and then stash my (at the time) manual wheelchair out of the aisle. This came to a halt when the management decided without notice that we could no longer use the seats. Rumour had it that a prudish patron had complained about the nudity in the change rooms as she made her way to the seat. My wife was so outraged by this change when we had bought the seats as usual that she tilted me back and ran down the stairs with me. She was a dancer, so she was pretty fit but it was still rather exciting. Management sheepishly decided to allow us to use the lift at interval.

These days, the accessible seats I buy are in the circle, GG1 or GG50. Although you are reasonably close you are right on the side, there is a metal bar which blocks your view somewhat and you cannot sit next to your companion which makes you feel very much like a second-class patron. The art centre seems to have made but overall effort to improve this in 30 years. Despite the lack of choice of better seats, the arts Centre stopped offering these accessible seats at a discounted price. Altogether a bit unsatisfactory but better than nothing. Sounds familiar, right?

There are also 2 boxes, G and H, way up in the gods. You can almost touch the golden baubles on the roof. You’re a long, long way from the action but the sound is still good and they’re much cheaper.

Despite these grumbles, I have seen many many wonderful shows here over the years, from the OZ ballet and opera to the Netherlands Dance Company, Sydney dance company, Sigur Ros, the Black Arm Band… the list goes on and on.

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