Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Empire versus the Republic
In 1977 I remember seeing for the first time Star Wars. For a thirteen year old it was the Empire versus the Republic - with the rebels being the good guys fighting against the evil Empire. My first republican moment was played out within the confines of the aptly named Regent Theatre. It was here the working-class community in the historic gold-mining community of Charters Towers cheered on the successful overthrow of the Empire by the rebels within the grand flourish of a space opera.

Built during the gold-rush era of the late nineteenth century, the Regent Theatre stood firm on the periphery of the British Empire. But now it held a republican people cheering on the rebels struggles to overthrow rule by an evil Emperor.

A few years later the Regent Theatre became a skating rink. Still the people attended although oblivious to the edifice of monarchy surrounding them. Years later it became a Crazy Clark’s emporium. How this must have embarrassed the old royal. Finally it became a storage building.

The people have come and the people have gone but the Regent structure remains – however, the old lady is utterly irrelevant to the people who have come and who have gone over the years. It is the people that mattered then and the people who matter now, never the edifice of monarchy.