Javeenbah was formed in the early 1970s by Nerang psychiatrist, Doctor Ivor Fitz-Patrick, as an outlet for local artists, potters, sculptors and writers to come together to display and sell their products.
In the late 1970s Dr Fitz-Patrick expanded his creative concept to include a performing arm with help from fellow potter Shaun Thorburn. With donations from enthusiastic locals, Javeenbah Theatre Company was born.
It was met with a great deal of hope by local actors and directors, who were growing increasingly tired of the staple diet of frothy comedies and outdated musicals being offered by other companies. It was envisaged that Javeenbah would look more to the modern and confronting play to awaken an audience’s awareness of what theatre could truly offer; a philosophy that continues to influence our choice of programming today.
Javeenbah’s first play – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Dale Wasserman – took to the stage on 21 November 1979. Mr Thorburn directed and Dr Fitz-Patrick’s son Paul played the part of one of the hospital aides. Members created a crude stage area beneath Dr Fitz-Patrick’s old Queenslander house on the corner of Cotton and White Streets.
Legend has it that volunteers dug out the downstairs area by hand, but Paul Fitz-Patrick says the story may have been embellished over the years. Volunteers did install steel beams to support the roof and fitted seating salvaged from an auction house. With the artists and artisans working and showing upstairs, the actors performing downstairs and the thriving Bali Hut restaurant next door, Javeenbah soon drew a steady stream of locals eager for something new.
Ambitiously, Javeenbah put on seven productions in its first 12 months under the direction of Mr Thorburn. Almost immediately the performing arm with its increasing membership, began to outgrow its tiny downstairs theatre.
With a new artistic director on board, Gwen Foggon, the theatre moved up the street a little way in 1982 and settled into the Nerang Community Hall where shows were regularly staged for several years. Eventually, the impetus behind the artists and sculptors ran out, leaving only the performing arm, now a legally incorporated association, Javeenbah Theatre Company Inc.
Within the company a small team was drawn together to pursue the ultimate goal of establishing its own theatre building. With a lot of effort and the support of the local community and Gold Coast City Council, the theatre eventually relocated to the corner of Ferry and Stevens Street, where it remains today.