Since the dissolving of Belvoir’s B-Sharp Season, there has been a flurry of activity in Independent venues in Sydney as theatre’s try to catch quality artists before they disappear. Amongst the programmes, supported under the reign of Virginia Judge (no more under this new Liberal government) includes New Theatre’s Spare Room initiative and now a wildly diverse curated season is presented by The Seymour Centre’s re-invention of the Downstair’s Theatre: The Reginald.

For those history buffs out there – and yes I am one of them- in 1966 Mr Everest Reginald York Seymour left $1 million “for the purpose of the construction of a building to serve as a Centre for the cultivation, education and performance of musical and dramatic arts befitting the City of Sydney”, in 1975 it actually happened and here we are in 2011, still reaping the benefits of his bequest. Here’s a picture of him –
Yes… it’s interesting isn’t it? Philanthropists don’t look like giant, greedy, jewel-eyed dragons who hoard treasure- that’s because they’re not. They are normal folk. Well, normal folk with superpowers… the superpower of vision and altruism and cash. That they give to worthy, important causes…

And now with the assistance of ARTS NSW, Tim Jones has curated a wonderfully diverse and robust season of emerging-mid career independent artists for The Reginald’s inaugural season and the blurb goes something like this: “I am delighted to announce the  first ever program for THE REGINALD. A season I believe that is really for contemporary arts lovers – people who enjoy new music, their straight plays, their physical theatre and the risk taking that results when all are mixed together – all are on show in this our first Reginald season. The Reginald is a fresh approach to theatre with a fabulous mix of work from emerging companies, some new and experimental works from some of our favourite established companies, and the best writing from overseas.”

Truly in this season – this feels more like a smorgasboard of contemporary performance than a sole focus on specific theatrical form – more like that of The Studio at the Sydney Opera House when it was under the curatorial eye of Virginia Hyam – this is a season for the curious and adventurous punter – the inner westy with a cultural bent. And I for one can’t wait and not just because there are works by folk I know the work of (and I know) quite well such as Caleb Lewis, Stories Like These (Luke Rogers and PJ Gahan) or Jonanthan Wald but because of the Melbourne contingent who I don’t know… It’s a real mix – check out the blurb:

“The phenomenally diverse inaugural season includes Aleksander and the Robot Maid, a steam-punk inspired family show. Marika Aubrey and Rob Mills star in The Last Five Years, Jason Robert Brown’s award-winning chamber musical, while Alexis Fishman dazzles in the cabaret Der Gelbe Stern (The Yellow Star). Melbourne’s Dislocate bring their new work Unit 4 to Sydney, full of whimsy, scintillating circus skills and black comedy. We present two weeks of the best in new music, firstly two of Australia’s super-percussion outfits, Synergy and Speak, come together to present City Jungle: Syd vs Melb, and then we welcome TaikOz in a collaboration with Melbourne DJ and producer, DJ M-Royce, TaikoDeck. Finally we round off the year with the formally inventive new play from hot young American playwright Jenny Schwartz, God’s Ear.”

Patrons can purchase tickets for Reginald performances via the Seymour box office, and can also become a ‘Friend of Reg’ for $20, entitling them to discounted preview tickets and half priced drinks at the bar for the entire season.

I reckon that’s not a bad deal – so if you want to practice your philanthropy – perhaps there’s no need just yet to leap to million dollar bequests – perhaps just become a friend of Reg first… it’s only $20. I know I will be.

For more information, program information and bookings, check out or phone the box office on 02 9114 1555.