City theatre pros: shows must go on

The theatre closed earlier this month.Photo: ODT files
The theatre closed earlier this month.Photo: ODT files

Professional  theatre practitioners say they will continue quality productions in Dunedin, despite the closure of the Fortune Theatre.

A group of 40 got together recently to consider the future of theatre in the city.

Spokeswoman, director, actor and writer Karen Elliot, said the group's main undertaking was not to get a new theatre.

But it was keen to let people know "we're here, we're staying, we're going to produce theatre.

"We have to now find a way to do it, that's it.''

Early this month, the Fortune Theatre announced its immediate closure, meaning its 11 employees and one contracted staff member lost their jobs and no further shows would be performed at the venue.

The trust that ran the theatre said the model under which it worked was no longer financially viable. Ms Elliot said finding a building for theatre was not something the group could control.

"The city needs a mid-sized space.

"Obviously, with the Fortune's demise, there isn't anything in the city that's around 250 seats.''

The group did not know the future of Sammy's, which the Dunedin City Council is still considering.

Ms Elliot said there was a need for a "purpose-built, medium-sized flexible space in the city''.

The idea of a flexible space meant something like a black box theatre, which could be easily re-configured, more like Allen Hall at the University of Otago.

The meeting had organised a steering group of 11, who would would talk to the city council and other stakeholders, including audiences, "just to see what we can all come up with together.''

"Obviously we're going to have to come up with a new model.

Who knows what that will be?''

Ms Elliot said theatre professionals' earning power had taken a blow with the theatre's closure.




What there is a need for is a professional theater company who can produce performances that people will want to pay for. Why don't you and your friends Ms Elliot put your money into opening a professional theater company that is financially viable. One that can support it's self and not rely on over half a million dollars of tax and rate payers money a year. There are already to many performances spaces in Dunedin that are in desperate need of money. They sit empty for most of the time with performers replying on grants to hire these venues so they can bring there art to the public, who then can not afford the ticket prices on a regular basis. I hope the DCC can help sort this mess rarther than just adding to it.