MAGIC OF THEATRE Celebrated on the Big Screen at Civic Playhouse

January 31, 2020

City of Newcastle is bringing the magic of cinema back to the city centre with the Civic Playhouse screening a selection of quality theatre productions and acclaimed classic films. Locals can watch incredible international performances like Met Opera’s Madame Butterfly in all their theatrical glory thanks to a new programming initiative, Civic Cinema.

As part of February’s Seniors Festival celebrations, the inaugural Civic Cinema Season has been extended and will include four outstanding Australian feature films – two classics and two set-to-become-classics – presented in the Playhouse.

The showcase opens with Bruce Beresford’s 1979 masterpiece, The Getting of Wisdom, on Monday 17 February which chronicles a rebellious youngster from the Australian outback experiencing difficulty adjusting to her new life at a strict Victorian boarding school in the city.

This quintessential Australian film is followed by the screening of Emu Runner, a unique story of love and loss set in an outback NSW town where a young Indigenous girl forms a very special bond with a wild emu. This lyrical and poetic film was the winner of the 2018 AACTA award for Best Indie Film.

Later in the week, the magnificent Careful He Might Hear You screens before an afternoon session of West of Sunshine.


Present Laughter featuring Fleabag’s Andrew Scott, The National Theatre’s Frankenstein and celebrated The Lehman Trilogy are just some of the highlights of the program.

Cinema and theatre have a long and proud history in Newcastle’s CBD and Civic Theatre is pleased to combine the two for the enjoyment of the community after the closure of the Tower Cinemas.

A trial season at the Civic Playhouse has proven to be a massive hit which has encouraged the City to continue presenting the movie experience.

While the new offering has been exceptionally popular with patrons of all walks of life, for those who can cast their memories back to before the mid-1970's, they know cinema viewing at the Civic Theatre was, in fact, a regular and much-loved pastime in Newcastle.

The Civic Theatre opened in 1929, and although designed as a live theatre, it was immediately leased as a cinema. Forty-five-years ago City of Newcastle decided to move towards more live productions and phased out cinema operations completely. 

The films have already been well received with lots of positive feedback from patrons who are eager for them to continue.

The initiative is part of the Civic’s Beyond the Stage program of cultural offerings beyond the traditional uses of the City’s jewels, Civic Theatre and City Hall. This has included the Civic Beats events at Civic Digest and lunchtime concerts at City Hall. 

For more information about the program of films and how to book tickets, visit 

Pictured Top: Small Island – Leah Harvey and CJ Beckford. Photo by Brinkhoff Moegenburg. 
Pictured Bottom: Present Laughter  – Photo by Manuel Harlan.


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