Celebrate the Independent Theatre’s 80th birthday with afternoon tea followed by a moved reading of the comedy French without Tears by Terence Rattigan, directed by Sydney theatre legend Aarne Neeme – and starring stage legends Terrence Clarke and Glenn Hazeldine.

 On 2 September 1939 the legendary Dame Doris Fitton renamed and reopened The Independent Theatre with a production of the popular comedy French without Tears by Terence Rattigan. Even more dramatic, the declaration of WWII was made after opening night!

80 years later, the New Independent Players (a specially assembled company of theatre veterans and emerging talent) bring a special moved reading of French Without Tears back to the Independent Theatre stage, under the direction of Aarne Neeme – who knew Doris Fitton. Proudly presented by the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation – the force behind the rebuilding, renovation, rebirth and renaissance of the elegant Independent Theatre.

 French Without Tears is a classic comedy of manners. A group of young (and one not so young!) men are studying French - the diplomatic language of the time. But secretly, they are learning about the diplomacy of Love and Sex - with its own tendency for tears as well as laughter. The play was a huge international hit in its day and it is fascinating to see how much has changed in the attitude towards women.

 This special event is a celebration of the theatre, its rich history (and countless famous alumni!) and especially a tribute to the remarkable Doris Fitton and her contribution to Sydney theatre.

 Cast features Antony Rodriguez as Kenneth Lake, Adam Edwards as Brian Curtis, Felix Gentle as Hon. Alan Howard, Julie Hudspeth as Marianne, Terrence Clarke as Monsieur Maingot, Glenn Hazeldine as Lt. Cmdr. Rogers, Kiara Teuila as Diana Lake, Robert Wells as Kit Neilan, Stacey Duckworth as Jacqueline Maingot & Joel Supnet as Lord Heybrook.   (NB Stacy & Felix are married)

Some famous productions of the time include the bawdy and controversial Rusty Bugles and Mourning Becomes Electra… and the theatre’s alumni include Peter Summerton, Robert Levis, Peter Finch, Reg Livermore and Gwen Meredith. Even more striking, the original performance of French Without Tears featured Sumner Locke Elliott – who went on to a stellar career in Hollywood.

SBW Foundation – which has an impressive archive - is appealing for memorabilia from the Theatre’s 80 years: photos, programmes & recollections from past actors & audience members.

Historic recreation of French Without Tears by Terrence Rattigan Sunday 1 September at 2pm (afternoon tea) for 3pm performance. Independent Theatre, 269 Miller Street, North Sydney
.Bookings here or 9955 3000