Arts Flashback

To celebrate Arts Victoria's 40th anniversary we've hit the archives
and uncovered some choice moments in the development of
Victoria's arts sector.

Click on the images below to view the stories and photo galleries, share them with others, and find out how Victoria grew to be the arts and cultural powerhouse it is today.

Hoopla's production of Antigone (1979) Photo: Jeff Busby
Hoopla's production of Antigone (1979) Photo: Jeff Busby

1976

Launch of Hoopla!

Before Malthouse Theatre, there was Playbox and before Playbox there was Hoopla! Founded in 1976 by Carrillo Gantner, Graham Blundell and Garrie Hutchinson, Hoopla Productions mounted its first season of plays (kicking off with Chidley by Alma de Groen and The Golden Oldies by Dorothy Hewett) at the new Grant Street Theatre.

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Under the motto 'making the improbable inevitable', the company sought to provide an alternative to the mainstream theatre productions and had a strong focus on new Australian writing. By the late 1970s Hoopla was based at the Playbox Theatre in Exhibition Street and adopted the name for the company. A fire gutted the Playbox Theatre in February 1984, but the company persevered, travelling and using other venues for the next few years.

In the late 80s Carlton and United Breweries offered Playbox a disused malthouse in Sturt Street as a new home. The CUB Malthouse was developed into a theatre complex, including the Merlyn and Beckett theatres, and opened in 1990. A third smaller theatre, the Tower, was added in 2005. A rehearsal and workshop space, the Hoopla, is a nod to the company's origins. In 2003, Playbox changed its name to Malthouse Theatre.

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