Kucom Theatre (formerly known as Mackay Community Theatre) has been entertaining audiences in Mackay for over 70 years
On Friday 11 July 1947, a public meeting was convened in the Mackay Town Hall, ‘for the purpose of forming a dramatic society for Mackay’. Among the nominations for Committee members were well-known local surnames such as Wood, Mulherin and Bagley, as well as the famous author 'Skip' Porteous who was for many years an active and enthusiastic member of the company.
The membership fee was to be ₤1/1/- (one guinea - about $2.10) per year non-acting, 10/6 year active members, 5/- year active members under 18. The new society would be governed by a Managing Committee of 8, answerable to 3 Trustees ('3 men of integrity'). This Managing Committee would oversight a Committee of Direction comprising 3 members responsible for 1) Orchestras, 2) Casting, and 3) Production.
Plays were to be selected according to the following strict criteria:
Plays must be sound but of entertainment value, authors such as G.B.S. [George Bernard Shaw], Noel Coward ... Ivor Novello, not farces or melodramas, but one to make the audience laugh or weep.
By September 1947 the new dramatic society was off to a flying start, with 3 one-act plays in rehearsal:
The Dear Departed
The Monkey’s Paw
The Spinsters of Luske
Subsequent productions over the following decades reflect a wide variety of offerings to the theatre-going public.
The Mackay Community Theatre produced 4 plays a year at the Olympic theatre which, with a seating capacity in excess of a thousand, was always well packed. When this theatre was demolished, the company moved to the Theatre Royal.
Kudos and beyond
In the 1970s, a group of members, disillusioned with the way the group was manipulated, broke away to form Kudos Theatre. The first production was the Feydeau farce Hotel Paradiso, and Kudos Theatre was off and running. It functioned well for a couple of years, then an approach was made to the Mackay Community Theatre for a merger (rumour has it that Kudos had all the talent and the MCT had all the money!)
The merger ensued, thus the Ku from Kudos and the Com from Community formed the Kucom Theatre Inc.
In past years Kucom Theatre has competed successfully in the Yeppoon and Capella Drama Festivals, and for a number of years took productions to Townsville for the North Queensland Festival of One Act Plays. Awards have been won most years including Best Production, Best Male Actor, Best Director and numerous 'Special Mentions'.
The year 2000 saw Kucom embark on the challenging endeavour of youth theatre. Our production of Blackrock not only displayed the quality of young talent in Mackay and district, but also highlighted the large quantity of young enthusiasts at our very doorstep. In 2005 our Youth Theatre production of Skate was highly successful, and many of the cast members from that production were reunited in the 2007 production of Blurred.
To celebrate Kucom's 60th anniversary in 2007, we jumped into the technological age with a brand new website and e-mail address, and the establishment of the Kucom Film Unit.
Kucom Theatre continues to operate as a community based not-for-profit group endeavouring to provide a means for members of our community to participate in and/or view a creative, constructive and very enjoyable pastime.
With a small but loyal and enthusiastic membership, Kucom Theatre for many years occupied an old Queenslander (serendipitously located in Shakespeare Street) that had been gutted to form a theatre with a flat acting area and a raked seating capacity of 65. A small but well-planned kitchen with servery catered for cold drinks and supper after the shows.
The Shakespeare Street theatre was sold in August 2010, and December 2011 saw the last production in that venue.
In the intervening years Kucom’s Building Subcommittee considered a number of options, including whether to buy an existing building and refurbish it, or to build a brand new theatre from scratch.
In the meantime the theatre group staged productions at various venues including the MECC, the Conservatorium, and Paxton Markets. Committee meetings and rehearsals were held in The Salvation Army rooms on Gregory Street, while the CWA and Studio 53 provided the venue for various Club Nights. The unstinting support provided to Kucom by the operators of these venues sustained the group while they made plans for their new permanent home.
When Mackay Regional Council generously agreed to lease the group a block of land in Snow Wright Court, Andergrove, the prospect of a new theatre started to become more of a reality, and a General Meeting was held on Tuesday 28 October 2014 to give Kucom members, patrons and members of the general public the opportunity to put forward their ideas and concerns, and to vote on the shape that the new Kucom venue should take.
The outcome of that meeting was an overwhelming vote in favour of a small but functional design that would best suit the group’s requirements, both as a theatre and as a clubhouse for members. Regulars from the old Shakespeare Street venue enjoyed the intimate venue and the friendly atmosphere, which the group has striven to retain - though with a somewhat larger seating capacity.
In 2015 Mackay Regional Council approved a grant of $250,000 to Kucom from the Better Community Building Fund, enabling the group to fast-track their building plans and turn the first sod on 20 August 2017. The new Kucom Theatre hosted its first public event in February 2018.
THE OLD THEATRE ROYAL, MACKAY
THE SHAKESPEARE STREET CLUBHOUSE/THEATRE
Kucom's home for nearly 50 years