Muggleton and Capsis are both dedicated fans of the theatre’s unique output.Credit:James Brickwood

The quaint Old Fitz, with its carpeted floors and exposed brick wall, was among Sydney’s first pub theatres when it opened in the 1990s and has been a stomping ground for emerging Australian greats since – from Kate Mulvany and Eamon Flack to Tim Minchin.

Andrew Henry, artistic director of the Old Fitz’s resident theatre group Red Line Productions, says the 60-seat theatre punches well above its weight. Despite receiving no ongoing funding, the cellar venue has a habit of generating new content that makes its way to subsidised main stage productions.

Since Red Line took over the theatre in 2014,  they’ve put on 93 productions and seen 221,000 audience members through the theatre’s door.

“We’ve only survived due to philanthropy and donations,” says Henry. “Every year I’ve organised a cap-in-hand fundraiser.”

Now in the production company’s fifth year of tenancy, however, Henry says it “felt wrong” to pass around a hat yet again.

“We desperately need the money, but what we said we’re going to do is ask the industry to support itself.”

Enter a cast of Australia’s most iconic stage and screen names, including Heather Mitchell, Helen Thomson, Wesley Enoch and Fitz alumni Brendan Cowell and Toby Schmitz, who will take to the small stage each night for two weeks and share with audiences their most-loved stories.

Cabaret performer Paul Capsis will read pieces from Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis. For Capsis, Wilde is “a man that proves that homosexuals have been around for a long, long time”.

“There is this idea that homosexuals suddenly emerged from the 60s. I think it’s really important we know about people in history who lived their lives and were great artists and very courageous,” he says.

As for the Old Fitz, Capsis describes himself as “quite a fan” although he’s yet to take to its stage himself.

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“This will be my first time ever performing there, but I like the size of the theatre and the work they do and I’ve seen some wonderful things there,” he says.

“I feel like it’s making the work that the bigger theatre companies don’t – work that’s new and confronting and different, which might mean challenging your audience and risking your stream of income.

“Everyone needs to see this work, not just the people who know about the underground. I feel like the majority of Australians who love the theatre are missing out. If they could access the smaller-scale companies and new work, it’s definitely worthwhile.”

One on One is at the Old Fitz Theatre from September 23 until October 7.

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