Dive into the archives

Browse through our archival material: gain understanding and inspiration from those who have come before you.


Ensemble Theatre will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2018.

On 11 May 1958, a group of talented theatricals, who had been studying acting with American expatriate actor Hayes Gordon, assembled to present the first of two Sunday night performances in Cammeray Children’s Library under the banner Variations on Similar Themes. The invitations to their premiere performance of a selection of Tennessee Williams’ works one of the actors noted, “We haven’t a name yet. Yes, we admit to training – Strasbergian, Stanislavskian, Meisnerian, Gordonian etc and we emphasise what might be referred to as the ‘ensemble’ values in production”.

In 1960, the company moved to the current premises in the old boatshed at Careening Cove. The boatshed was converted by the members of the company into a theatre in the round and for 20 years presented theatre in this format. During the early 1980’s the venue underwent a major refurbishment during which time the company moved its base of operations to the Playhouse, Sydney Opera House which was being used as a cinema at the time. The Ensemble’s refurbished venue was re-opened in 1984 and the company celebrated 40 years in its Kirribilli home in the year 2000 with an extended season of 16 plays presented at four venues across Sydney.

Founding Artistic Director Hayes Gordon appointed Sandra Bates to take over as Artistic Director in 1986 and Sandra continues in this role today, recently celebrating her 29th Anniversary with the company. Sandra has led the theatre through uncertain economic times to establish it as one of the most successful theatre companies in Australia with the third largest subscription base in the country. In 2011, Sandra invited Mark Kilmurry to share the role of Artistic Director, and the theatre continued to thrive under their Co Artistic Directorship. Sandra Bates announced her retirement in January 2016, celebrating 30 years at the helm of the company and making her the longest serving Artistic Director of any theatre company in the country. Mark Kilmurry continues as sole Artistic Director of Ensemble Theatre from 2016. 

To view a full list of our past productions, CLICK HERE (PDF) (239 Kb).