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AFI research collection
Reference Type chapter
Title The heart of Middle Park: stories from a suburb by the sea
Chapter/Web article title The Middle Park Theatre
Author(s)Rosemary Goad,Diana Phoenix,Kay Rowan
State VIC
Country Australia
Publication Date 00-00-2011
Citation Date
Page Number 28-41
Comments This fourteen pages long chapter encapsulates the entire history associated with the building at 1-3 Armstrong Street, Middle Park. The chapter chronologically follows the building’s various uses from the year when it was erected in 1907 all the way through to its current use as a fitness centre. The information is chronologically gathered into eleven subheadings of the chapter, distinguished on the bases of the building’s use. Some of the more relevant sections for film studies deal with the building’s past as the Middle Park Picture Theatre (1909-1943), the Melbourne Repertory Theatre (1944-1951) and The Arrow Theatre (1951-1956). The section on The Arrow Theatre names many actors and directors who were initially involved at the Arrow that later had successful film careers in Australia and abroad (see the “People Mentioned” section below).

The chapter provides much new and valuable historical information about the building, especially its uses after 1944, as well as some first hand accounts of the locals evoking distant memories of the venue. One noticeable example being Thelma Murray who recalls entering and winning a community singing competition that took place in the hall some time in the early 1940s. That being said, it must be noted that a substantial part of the subsection on the building’s use as a picture theatre does not provide any new or original information. Indeed, though acknowledged, most of the information provided in this section is word-for-word summary from an article by Denzil Howson titled “The flicks at Armstrong Street” published in CinemaRecord (2002, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 8-9).

This chapter is only one of twelve in this 103 pages long book, the first published history of Middle Park. The rest of the book in a similar fashion features the other monumental aspect of the suburb’s past such as the prominent Middle Park Hotel right next to the Middle Park Picture Theatre and now demolished Middle Park Baths, but most of this information, though immensely valuable for the local history of the area, is unrelated to film studies research.

Synopsis This chapter provides the most comprehensive historical information of the building at 1-3 Armstrong Street, Middle Park, in its various roles as the Middle Park Picture Theatre (1909-1943), the Melbourne Repertory Theatre (1944-1951) and The Arrow Theatre (1951-1956).
tags: Independent Cinema Melbourne Repertory Theatre Melbourne Suburban Cinemas Melbourne Suburban Picture Theatres Middle Park Middle Park Hall Middle Park Picture Theatre Middle Park Theatre The Arrow Theatre 
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People Mentioned ( click to view )
Cinemas Mentioned ( click to view )

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