A new golden age for Charlton’s Rex Theatre

14 January 2022

For more than 40 years David Pollard has helped keep Charlton’s community spirit alive by volunteering at the Rex Theatre.

The art deco theatre was established in 1938 during the golden era of cinema on the land of the Dja Dja Wurrung People. It is considered to be the last intact purpose-built cinema in country Victoria.

For Charlton’s population of around 1000, the landmark theatre is the heart and soul of the town and locals have many wonderful memories attached to the Rex.

David recalled standing out the front of the theatre one Saturday night with some friends, when he was approached by the manager and offered a behind-the-scenes position.

“I was just 19-years-old at the time, but I had some work experience showing movies in the Whycheproof Hall,” he said.

“My job involved rewinding the film when it turned up, preparing everything to put it through the projectors, packing it up and sending it off again.”

One of his greatest memories at Rex Theatre was when the first Crocodile Dundee movie was released in 1986.

“We showed the movie 18 times, and it was basically a full house most nights,” he recalled.

“With the only other cinema over 100 kilometres away, people came from all over to see the movie.”

Given his long association with the cinema, David is delighted the theatre is now getting a new lease of life. Through the Victorian Government’s Regional Cultural Infrastructure Fund, the community-owned theatre will undergo an $800,000 revamp over the coming six months.

When complete, the works will allow productions to be staged at the theatre with the building extended to included new dressing rooms, bathrooms and backstage storage.

There will also be flexible sound and lighting options for performances and a rehearsal space for local artists.

David can’t wait for the works to be finished to further grow the theatre’s value for the community.

“I’m looking forward to having the ability to put on live productions because I’m hoping to get a local theatre group together,” David said.

“We have a lot of young people in the community who aren’t sport-orientated, and this would allow them to do something they might enjoy.

“We would train them to operate lighting and backstage work, as well as teaching performing arts.

“I’m nearly getting too old to climb ladders so it will be good to teach this new generation the behind-the-scenes ropes.”

It’s clear David, Rex Theatre treasurer and Buloke Shire councillor, understands that a venue like the Rex can be the glue that ties a community together.

“The theatre is really important for a small town like this, … it’s one of the very few venues up here where we can get that cultural entertainment.”