Backstage Cinema

Feb 8, 2013
  • Article by Aidan Halloran
  • Photography by Aidan Halloran
  • Designer
  • Architect ITN architects

The old backstage area of the original Classic Cinema in Elsternwick has been converted into a 60-seat cinema by Melbourne’s ITN Architects.

The Classic Cinema is the oldest continuously operating cinema in Australia (since 1911), and before that operated as a live theatre. The old stage has been sitting behind the main cinema screen, gathering dust for 100 years. This dead space was slightly expanded, with new acoustic walls and a stepped floor added to the space, to create an intimate new cinema.

Referencing its former life, painted stage flats and pulley ropes line the walls framing the action on the screen, and providing the necessary acoustic attenuation. old spotlights found on site were refitted and hung from new lighting rigs, giving the room theatrical light and shade. Sections of the existing rough red brickwork were exposed, and the red velvet curtains and dark leather of the generous seats also recall the old theatre experience.

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