Work on the Playhouse began in December 2007 to ensure that the first phase would be completed in time for the 2008 Adelaide Festival of Arts and the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM), and that business during this time would not be compromised.
Working closely with HASSELL Architects, who were the original architects of the Adelaide Festival Centre, Stage 1 of the upgrade has seen the Playhouse fitted out with new seating, which has been developed in accordance with feedback from the general public during a two-week trial in August 2007. Also installed was new carpeting, new lighting equipment, renovation of the Playhouse toilets and improved facilities for patrons with disabilities.
Stage 2 of the upgrade will begin in late 2008 with completion in early 2009, and will focus on refurbishing the Playhouse foyer, bar, reception desk and BASS counter, as well as wheelchair access and seating in the theatre, which will be developed after extensive consultation with local disability groups to ensure it will best fit their needs.
During the re-opening, Premier Rann also unveiled the portrait of former Premier Don Dunstan painted by Clifton Pugh. The original portrait, on loan from the Art Gallery of South Australia, will be displayed initially, and later replaced with a reproduction for permanent display.
Part of the Adelaide Festival Centre, the Dunstan Playhouse is one of Australia's iconic venues. It has served South Australian audiences for more than 30 years, and has been home to the State Theatre Company of South Australia since 1974. It was renamed in 2002 to honour the former Premier after his death in 1999, in memory of his passion and commitment to the arts in Adelaide.