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Located at the corner of Khartoum Road and Waterloo Road in the northwest Sydney suburb of Macquarie Park, just to the north of North Ryde. A true anomaly in theatre going, the Khartoum Theatre was an open-air theatre which opened on 29th January 1938 with “The Plainsman” and “Easy to Take”. You could expect to find open-air theatres in hot places like Bourke, but this one was in a suburban location.
At the time Macquarie Park/North Ryde had not been developed, and attracted artists who painted the orchards, market gardens, farms and waterways. The theatre was on the corner of an orchard and was owned by Mr. N. Johnstone who later partnered with Jack Peckman who doubled as a projectionist. The building housing the entrance and projection booth was made of timber and currugated iron. It had a partial roof, but most of the seating was out in the open. Entertainment at the interval might be a wood chopping contest, and if heat was needed, fires were started in 44 gallon drums.
Locals referred to it as ‘the shack’, but it was popular enough to run until 1966 when it closed with Marlon Brando in “The Wild One”.
Competition arrived when the Skyline Drive-In opened only a block away in 1956 but, as usual, TV was the deadly competitor.
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