Globe Theatre needs urgent repairs

Temporary solution . . . Friends of the Globe Theatre chairwoman Rosemary Beresford stands next...
Temporary solution . . . Friends of the Globe Theatre chairwoman Rosemary Beresford stands next to the theatre's seats, which are protected by a large, blue tarpaulin, in case of rain. Photo Brenda Harwood
A new condition report and conservation plan for Dunedin's Globe Theatre has reinforced the urgent need for repairs to the building.

Of particular concern is the condition of the theatre's roof, which leaks so badly that the theatre's seats have had to be protected with a tarpaulin and a special rig built to collect incoming rain water.

The report, and its own ongoing concerns, have prompted the Friends of the Globe Theatre group - which owns and administers the theatre - to step up efforts to raise funds and begin repairs as soon as possible this year. A final estimate of the repair costs has yet to be done but the Friends are hoping to keep the budget down to a modest $200,000.

''We have known for some time that the work needed to be done, but now that we have the conservation plan we can really move forward with grant applications and fundraising,'' Friends of the Globe Theatre chairwoman Rosemary Beresford said.

''Right from the beginning, the Globe Theatre has been a low-cost operation, functioning on a lot of good will, and this project will be the same,'' Dr Beresford said.

Last year, the Friends of the Globe Theatre commissioned Queenstown-based architects and conservation company Jackie Gillies + Associates to produce the theatre condition report and conservation plan.

The report, prepared by building conservation specialist Robin Miller and delivered last month, highlights a series of significant problems with the condition of the Globe Theatre and the adjoining historic William Mason house.

These include the leaky roof and water damage, walls in poor condition, a large magnolia tree that is damaging the structure, floors damaged by decay and borer, and the need to upgrade paths and fire safety.

''The greatest threat facing the Globe is the poor condition of the structure and fabric of the buildings. A planned programme of sensitive, but practicable, repairs should be the single-most important aim of the Friends,'' the report states.

"The roof is definitely the most urgent issue - it has been notoriously leaky for many years,'' Dr Beresford said.

While it had not affected performances, problems with puddles on the stage had interfered with a few rehearsals, she said.

''The longer we leave it, the more water damage occurs in the theatre.''

The Globe Theatre was created in the l960s, when theatre practitioners Patrick and Rosalie Carey knocked a hole in the wall of their historic William Mason home in London St and added a theatre extension. Designed by an architect, the structure was built with the help of friends and volunteers.

Over time, the awkward junctions between the two buildings and the theatre's ambitious octagonal roof have led to leaks and water damage. In addition, a concrete path to the theatre entrance was laid over an earlier path. It has trapped water and led to further damage.

''We would really like to restore the pathway to the original wooden boardwalk style,'' ' Dr Beresford said.

The Friends of the Globe group has engaged a quantity surveyor to draw up an estimate of the costs, which will be broken down into components for grant applications and fundraising projects. The theatre will also be seek support from private donors.

''We will be working closely with our membership, because it's something we all need to be together on,'' Dr Beresford said.

''And we will also continue with our ongoing theatre programme.''

This year's programme will include a dress-up screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the end of February, a production of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter later in the year, and hosting performances in the 2013 Dunedin Fringe Festival.

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