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The Star Theatre
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The Star Theatre
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Coles Supermarket - circa 1960s

The origin and evolution of Mercury

Mercury Theatre Wynnum has been home to stories and dreams for over 75 years, staging community theatre productions since 1949!

Who founded Mercury Theatre Wynnum?

​Mercury Theatre came into being on 18 June 1949, in Wynnum.

It was founded by local identity and Australian icon, 'Win' - Mrs Winifred Davson (née O'Neill) MBE. Win graduated from Brisbane State High in 1937.  During World War II, she was Drama Director of the Wynnum and Manly Younger Set War Workers from 1943 to 1945. She had a long career as an accomplished actor, producer, director, playwright, historical author, poet and fine artist, and Speech and Drama teacher.

 

In 1947, Win became the first woman in Australia—and among the first few women in the world—to achieve a Fellowship of Trinity College London for Speech and Drama. Win was honoured to receive an MBE in 1972 and to be a finalist in Queenslander of the Year in 1987. 

 

Why did Win start Mercury Theatre Wynnum?

In a Royal Historical Society of Queensland piece, Win wrote that she began Mercury “to foster an appreciation and love of a great art whose field is the whole of human life with its laughter and tears, sorrow and tragedy”.

She wrote, "It was never visualised as just another suburban Little Theatre but as a vital and enduring cultural force voicing and serving the needs of a well-populated district in Waterloo Bay, slightly removed from city opportunities and rich in latent talent. There was no other Theatre in the district."

What was the inspiration behind the name 'Mercury'?

The name 'Mercury' originated from a theatre in Notting Hill Gate, London of the same name.

What was the first play produced by the theatre group?

Mercury Theatre Wynnum produced its first play,  Milestones by Arnold Bennett-Edward Knoblock at the Star Theatre, Wynnum Central, on 7 July 1949.

What happened to Star Theatre?

The Star Theatre was originally located at 150 Florence Street, Wynnum.

This movie theatre was originally the open-air Empire Theatre, erected in 1915 and later enclosed and renamed the Star Theatre. The ‘Star’ survived as a popular movie theatre until 17 May 1959, when it was destroyed in a blaze that cost the lives of two firemen – Herbert Lees and Sydney Brown, who were buried under more than four metres of rubble after the projection room collapsed on them.

 

During the 1960s, the site became home to the first Coles supermarket in Queensland, where it still stands today.

Thank you Win! Your legacy lives on 75 years later. 

Mercurians believe in their Theatre and its value in enriching contemporary life.

Win Davson - Founder of Mercury Theatre Wynnum

1921-2013

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