Roxy Theatre returns to its glory

first_imgThe town of Bingara came alive on Saturday as Greek Australians from around the country make their way to the New South Wales town, for the opening of the Roxy Museum.Heralding the Roxy Theatre’s return to glory, the two-day long official opening of the museum will be as magnificent as the Roxy building itself, with over 300 people expected to attend. Made possible by a $94,000 grant from the NSW Ministry of Arts and donations from the Greek Australian community, the Roxy Greek Museum will be officially opened today, by NSW Governor, Professor Marie Bashir and in the presence of the Greek Ambassador to Australia, Haris Dafaranos and NSW Minister for Arts George Souris.Planned for the two-day event are guided tours of the museum, movie screenings in the Roxy theatre, talks by special guests and antique car displays. Showing the visitors around the museum will be its curator Peter Prineas and the members of the Melbourne-based design team, Convergence Associates, who were in charge of the theatre restoration. The highlight of the weekend, a Gala Dinner and Ball will be held after the official opening, under the stars on the main street of Bingara that will be closed for this occasion. Bringing the glamour of the 1930’s back to Bingara, it will be an evening of Greek feast and plate smashing, in the rhythms of the live Greek band Ha Va Le.As curator Peter Prineas told Neos Kosmos, smashing of plates will serve as a fundraiser for the new museum.On Sunday, the celebrations will continue with the launch of the Greek Immigration Olive Grove, a tree planting ceremony in recognition of Greek immigration to Australia. The first tree to be planted by curator Peter Prineas will be dedicated to Emmanuel Aroney, George Psaltis and Prineas’ grandfather Peter Feros, who built the Roxy Theatre in 1936.“It all began with the Roxy Theatre. In dark and silence for 40 years, it was the biggest building in Bingara, so a couple of academics who were interested in cinema heritage in NSW, influenced the former premier Bob Karr to make some funding available to reopen theatres like the Roxy, which were in a number of country towns and were closed since the late 60’s, when TV came to the country towns and cinema became a history. There was this enormous building still standing and in good condition, and they thought it would be a good idea to revive the town,” Mr Prineas tells Neos Kosmos.The theatre was the first part of the historical Roxy building to be brought back – it was reopened in 2004. But there wasn’t much recognition of its Greek significance, until Prineas’ book Katsehamos and the Great Idea was published, explaining the Greek history of the Roxy Theatre and Café.“The book was launched in 2006 at the theatre, and people realised that the Greek Australian narrative that is attached to this building is one of the most important things about it. That Greek Australian significance influenced the Council to acquire and bring back the 1930s’ Greek café next to the theatre, which was built by the original Greek developers. Soon after, we decided that the Greek museum would be a good idea,” says Prineas. For the whole concept to be realised, from restoring the Roxy Theatre and Café to opening a museum, it took 16 years. The Roxy Museum, dedicated to the history of Greek settlement in Australia, is now expected to become a pilgrimage for Greek Australians, to pay tribute to the legacy of the Greek café and cinema operators. “When you travel around Australia, there are not many places that people of Greek Australian ancestry can stop and look at and say that it tells their story. I think you can say that about the Roxy and its significance. It is a living tribute to the history of Greeks in Australia.”Comprising rare memorabilia, photographs, interpretive texts, the museum will invoke the vivid dream that the Roxy’s original creators – and hundreds of other Greek pioneers – realised in New South Wales and beyond.“We’ve been inviting people for some years now to contribute material, and there has been a steady stream of Greek Australians who came to Bingara to give us dishes, logo crockery, to tell the story.“The museum tells its story through a respectable collection of café memorabilia and logo crockery, some excellent items from two old Greek picture theatres, and a couple of audio-visual presentations. Also, we have a digital interactive map Café and Cinema Trail which visitors can use to locate hundreds of former Greek cafés and cinemas in NSW.” For further information about the Roxy Museum and to book your tickets, call the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on 02 6724 0066 or visit Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more