Story: Theatres, cinemas and halls

First purpose-built theatre

New Zealand's first purpose-built theatre was erected behind the Ship Hotel in Wellington's Manners Street - the two storey building with the hipped roof. Called the Royal Victoria Theatre (and later the Royal Olympic Theatre), it was a plain rectangular building with a gabled roof, a few windows along its side, and a street entrance beside the hotel. It measured about 14 metres by 9 metres. Little is known of its interior other than that it had stall seating and a commodious dress gallery. It was also brightly lit by whale oil, a Wellington first. This lithograph shows the building about 1857. 

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University of Waikato
Reference: Illustrated London News, 9 April 1859, p. 357

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How to cite this page:

Ben Schrader, 'Theatres, cinemas and halls - Colonial period', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/zoomify/42370/first-purpose-built-theatre (accessed 1 June 2020)

Story by Ben Schrader, published 22 Oct 2014