Cellar Theatre closed, SUDS production cancelled following ceiling collapse

The USU has announced it is looking for short-term accomodation for performances and hopes the space will be reopened for Semester 2.

When the ceiling collapsed earlier this year, the damage was extensive. Photo: Margot Lousia

Part of the Cellar Theatre’s ceiling collapsed on the evening of Thursday, June 1, forcing the Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS) to cancel the remaining nights of their current production, The Normal Heart, which opened on Wednesday.

The space is owned by the University of Sydney Union (USU) and used primarily by SUDS for staging shows and holding rehearsals; more information about the damage has become available since Honi reported on the damage yesterday evening.

USU Vice President Atia Rahim told Honi, “A large section of the ceiling has collapsed, mainly over the storage area of the space but also starting to move into the performance space. At this stage, investigations by qualified engineers are required and have commenced to determine the cause.”

Photo: Robin Eames.
Photo: Robin Eames.

The president of SUDS, Keshini de Mel, posted in the public SUDS Facebook group, saying the Cellar is “no longer an operational space” and is “now a construction site”, instructing members of the society not to enter.

de Mel also expressed that she is “truly sorry and deeply regret[s] that [the cast and crew of The Normal Heart] will not be able to run your show as intended.”

In a post made by their Facebook page, the USU stated, “Initial inspections indicate no major structural damage”, an assessment which bodes well for a speedy recovery.

However, Rahim said, until the structural investigations are completed, “the USU is not able to speculate on exactly how long it will take to repair the space”.

The post continues, “USU is working with SUDS to find alternative short term accommodation for auditions, rehearsals and performances … We will not be providing access to the site until we are certain that the space is safe.”

It is unclear for the moment how long repairs to the ceiling will take; however, the USU “hope[s] that the ceiling can be repaired quickly and that SUDS will be back in business for Semester 2.”