Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Elizabeth Civic Centres - The People's theatre

The group of civic minded people rallied to establish a theatre complex for the City of Elizabeth. The Housing Trust of South Australia offered the Salisbury Council, free of cost to the Council a site for the theatres in the centre of Elizabeth.  The unique design of the theatre complex is the work of Mr Geoff Shedley, chief architect for the South Australian Housing Trust. 

The Elizabeth Civic Theatres feature twin theatres in one building comprising the Octagon and the Shedley Theatres.
The complex, completed in 1965, was opened by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Edric Bastyan on 21st August of that year. 

The small theatre from the start was known as the Shedley, named for Mr Geoff Shedley, who was the designer and architect of the theatres, and his influence as a designer, architect and sculptor has left its mark on the cultural development of the city.

Several local theatre groups have been formed in Elizabeth and surrounding areas, such as The Nimbus Productions, The Northern Light Opera Company, Mirrabooka, Masque Productions, and The Elizabeth Repertory Company.

These groups cater for drama, light opera, musicals and comedy and give many people the opportunity to be connected with an amateur theatre group whether it be in acting, singing or the technical side of a production.  Some groups such as The Nimbus Productions have now become semi-professional and provide excellent entertainment. Dancing Schools, Callisthenics Club Displays, Concerts, and the Boy Scouts Comedy Capers and held at the Shedley Theatre which makes the theatres a “Peoples theatre” in reality.
The Octagon, which derives its name from its shape, is the larger of the two theatres.  The Octagon is the venue for all the major balls in Elizabeth.  The Elizabeth Birthday Festival ball is the highlight of the social calendar of Elizabeth, where the entrants of the Miss Elizabeth Quest are presented to the Guest of Honour before the winners are announced and Miss Elizabeth is crowned.

From 1992 there were plans to revamp the heart of Elizabeth.  Part of these initial plans was to bulldoze the Shedley and Octagon theatres and expand the Elizabeth Shopping centre out to Main North Road.  The proposal sparked outrage amongst the local community who began protesting about the proposed plan.  Placard carrying demonstrators gathered outside the Elizabeth Council Chambers to show their disapproval.  The Shedley was saved, but the Octagon was demolished.
In 2004 the Playford Civic Centre opened as part of the ‘Revitalisation of the City”.  The new centre is designed to be a hub of inspiration, drawing together a range of community and cultural services into one central and dynamic facility.  The redevelopment cost $12.6 million.


THE SHEDLEY THEATRE is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2015.

The Playford Civic Centre is calling on anyone who may have information or a connection to the Shedley Theatre.

We would also welcome any historical material relating to the theatre that you may be willing to share.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, the Playford Civic  Centre would love to hear from you.

Please contact Daina Pocius on 8256 0382 or email

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