Issue 25

Historic Theatre Renewal Project

The P.A. People delivers systems for the historic Rathmines Theatre in regional NSW, sprucing up the 1940s RAAF theatre for modern events.


2 November 2020

The P.A. People is delighted to have delivered the installation of new audio, av, comms and theatre systems in the refurbished Rathmines Theatre on behalf of Lake Macquarie City Council. “The historic nature of the project is something that interested our team – given our experience with heritage and culturally-significant venues over the years” said Chris Dodds, Managing Director for The P.A. People. “The end result is a credit to all involved and the new systems will support the Council’s plan for a wide range of uses” said Chris.

Rathmines Theatre, previously known as the Rathmines Community Hall, is located on the former RAAF Station Rathmines and is locally heritage-significant. The building was constructed in the 1940s and was used as a Picture Theatre and Gymnasium; it was vital in providing a recreational outlet for hundreds of men who spent time at the RAAF Station. In the 1960s, Council took over the management of the former RAAF Station and used the building as a community hall catering to the needs of the community. 

Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Fraser said the project has given the historic building a new lease of life. “The refreshed facility will help to reinvigorate the cultural scene in western Lake Macquarie and will deliver significant economic benefits to the area,” Cr Fraser said. “This state-of-the-art facility offers a place for performers to take centre stage and share their talents with the community. “It is also home to the Heritage Centre, a place where our community can visit to learn about the history of Rathmines and Lake Macquarie City.” 

Since its early history and more recent community use, the Theatre had not had significant investment in refurbishment until the current project. To enable the broad range of uses the Council intended, the technical task involved providing the capability to perform theatre productions, presentations, functions and community activity. Ross Ford, project manager for The P.A. People said; “we believe an excellent systems and technically functional outcome has been achieved which will allow varying groups to produce and enjoy a range of programs with the equipment provided.” Venue functionality has been provided in terms of comms capability for ‘Green Room’ cast member instruction, a comprehensive talk-back system to allow production staff to direct cast members on stage, ‘bells’ for audience recall to the Theatre and a user-friendly system capability for user-groups with varying levels of knowledge.

The P.A. People:

The new systems capability can be seen in the following:

Audio is provided in two (2) modes; Basic mode is controlled from a touch panel side-of-stage and this is duplicated in the BIO box (main control) location, this gives the user control of 3 radio mics, video control & lighting control. Advanced mode includes a Yamaha sound desk with up to 32 inputs to the mixer, varying patch points throughout the venue, 4 radio mics.  Four paging ‘zones’ – allowing paging and routing of audio via main hall, back-of-house/Green Room, verandah and terrace area and ticketing box.

Lighting is also in two modes which link in with the dual audio modes; Basic mode uses pre-sets for lectern and overhead – all controlled from a touch-panel while Advanced mode includes 12 moving lights and 4 profile lights to provide varied lighting design. New lighting bars have been installed and 36 patchable outlets

Projection systems in Basic & Advanced modes and Full Curtaining includes a full back curtain, side ‘legs’, a proscenium arch system and a front curtain with manual draw rope.

Brett Steele, Manager of Installed Systems for The P.A. People said the venue presented some particular challenges relevant to its historical nature, where original features needed to be preserved and its physical location.  “Great care was to be exercised with placement and method of equipment installation; the Theatre location meant only temporary power was available during construction and the site was a distance from materials and access to services.”  Both Brett and Ross agreed “our task was made easier through an excellent customer relationship with Lake Macquarie City Council and the fact that a local AV contractor was engaged with the process, who would have continuing involvement with the venue post-completion.”

As the Performing Arts Officer for Lake Macquarie City Council, part of Melanie Stanton’s role includes curating of the arts program going forward. Melanie said the Venue needed to be upgraded to serve the needs of the local and regional arts community, touring shows and professional sectors and that systems installed needed to be user-friendly due to the varied users and skill levels. “Council has interest in lifting the Theatre’s profile in events, weddings, conferencing and other activities” said Melanie. “The Venue will also cater for Council-led uses including its Lifelong Learning & Engagement program, with events such as classic film nights and writing workshops spanning youth to retirees.” Melanie added “the Heritage Centre is part of the building – and it is hoped that this, along with the Venue’s lakeside location will become a broader regional attraction – in keeping with the Rathmines Master Plan.”

Council’s Manager Arts, Culture and Tourism, Jacqui Hemsley said the redeveloped venue provides a great opportunity for the arts community and an ideal tourism destination. “Rathmines Theatre will offer unique programs and exhibitions unlike anything Lake Macquarie has experienced before” Ms Hemsley said. “This revived venue provides a space for performance artists to be inspired and connect with their audience – attracting visitors from across the region to our City to experience something memorable.”



  • QSC KW-122 Arrays and QSC KS112 subwoofers
  • Yamaha TF5 console complete with Yamaha TIO1608-D stage box
  • Yamaha MTX5-D processor
  • Sennheiser EW 100G4 Hand Held & Lapel radio mics
  • Shure SM57, SM58 and MX418/C mics


Jands EZICOM intercom Master Station and Beltpacks


  • Zero FLX-S24 lighting console
  • LSC GVW12/10A Dimmer and Patch
  • ShowPRO R3 moving head LED wash lights
  • ShowPRO Pharos LED Profiles
  • Jands JLX Lite lighting bars


  • Epson EB-L1495UNL Laser projector
  • Screen Technics 180” 16:9 Motorised screen
  • Kramer VS-62HA switcher
  • Kramer TP-580R & TP-580T HD Base Transport


  • Crestron CP3 processor
  • Crestron TSW-760-B-S Touch Screens
  • Ruckus ICX7150-24 Network Switches


  • Stage Management Paging System
  • Stage Drapes and Tracks

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