The Cell Block Theatre at the National Art School is housed on the Old Darlinghurst Gaol site, Sydney’s first permanent gaol. In 1957 Katharine Hepburn and Robert Helpman started a fund to turn the derelict prison block into a dramatic theatrical venue. After a long period of fundraising and restoration, the internal walls and floors were removed to reveal towering ten-metre high sandstone walls leaving behind an open atmospheric cathedral-like space.
The impression of the old cells still lingers with traces of the curved stone staircases climbing three storeys high, the narrow barred windows, the rough sandstone edges that mark the cells and the solid iron doorway. The stone walls and wooden floors keep the simplicity of the space focused on the history that has been and this makes for a very unique venue for many different types of events.
The surrounding courtyards offset the history of the Cell Block Theatre and make a great outdoor entertaining space to supplement the indoor area.