Back in 1966, Sydney businessman and philanthropist Everest Reginald York Seymour left a significant bequest for, ‘…the construction of a building to serve as a centre for the cultivation, education and performance of musical and dramatic arts…’
The University of Sydney became the trustee of this bequest, and the Seymour Centre was opened in 1975 on the main Darlington campus.
Designed by Allen Jack+Cottier and refurbished in 2000 by Lahz Nimmo Architects, the Seymour has become one of Sydney’s leading cultural hubs.
In its early years, the Seymour played host to major national and international theatre tours, featuring prominent artists such as June Bronhill, Warren Mitchell (as King Lear), June Salter and Leonard Teale.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s some of Australia’s most famous faces, including Geoffrey Rush, Jacki Weaver, Judy Davis, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Mel Gibson, performed at the Seymour in their earliest roles.
Theatrical education and experimentation were also a feature of early programming, with Sydney University Theatre Workshop staging radical student theatre performances at the Seymour in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Throughout its history the Seymour has consistently mentored smaller arts organisations, providing a home base for many emerging dance, music and theatre companies.
Memorable, award-winning Australian theatre productions have also been a feature of the Seymour’s programs, with shows like Belvoir’s Who is Sylvia? Or The Goat and Keating! The Musical. More recently, Outhouse Theatre’s John, presented as part of the Seymour’s 2019 season, won Best Independent Production at the Sydney Theatre Awards.
The Seymour has also presented a remarkable array of Australian artists, including Missy Higgins, Anh Do, Kitty Flanagan and Kathy Lette. International artists and companies who have performed at the Seymour include Neil Finn, Florence + the Machine, DV8, Royal Shakespeare Company, Complicité, Steven Berkoff, Robert Lepage, Seal, Eddie Vedder and David Baddiel.
In recent years, the Seymour has forged an identity as not only a significant cultural venue presenting leading artists, but a true “university” performing arts centre, engaged in presenting performances that embrace experimentation, education, and big ideas, and provide significant support for the artists of the future.