The Old Casino Writers' Group
The Old Casino Writers' Group was formed in the early 1990s and was run by Susan Wildman and Simon Lenthen, both well-known on the Sydney writing scene. It operated independently from IDAS/Matchbox Theatre but used the same space, hosting members and guests on a regular basis. Celebrated and lesser-known poets and writers were invited to read and there was an open section where new writers could, by agreement, launch or test their work.
The venue, with its Old Casino Bar which never closed - because it was never officially opened as a bar - and the ambient atmosphere of the IDAS Studio and intimate stage, made for pleasant evenings of entertainment and social/literary interchange. Amongst the distinguished guests and readers to visit The Old Casino were, Kominos, Merv Lilley, David Wansborough and Dulcie Meadows.
The history of the venue (The Old Casino) in Rozelle is one of true Australian character there having been, for several years, a "secret" casino on the upper floor of the premises (The York Building) on the corner of Darling Street and Victoria Road.
A number of local identities and colourful characters from further afield are known to have frequented it in its hey-day. The steel re-enforced front doors bore witness to its popularity and the variety of routes for gaining swift egress made it almost a certainty that it would have passed any inspection by the NSW Fire Service. When it became a Drama Studio the undisputed mystique remained, lending the space an atmosphere of both intrigue and creativity.