Young actors focus of new Dunedin theatre company

Alex Wilson, back in Dunedin to continue his studies, leads the new Arcade Theatre Company. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
Alex Wilson, back in Dunedin to continue his studies, leads the new Arcade Theatre Company. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Young theatre practitioners with a wealth of experience have launched a new theatre company in Dunedin.

Led by artistic director Alex Wilson, Arcade Theatre Company aims to focus on the city’s young actors, offering them opportunities to be involved in bold, adventurous theatre projects with a broad appeal.

Wilson, who founded Counterpoint Theatre Company in 2012 while completing his Theatre Studies degree at the University of Otago, led the project for six shows before heading off for six months of theatre training in the United States.

Then in Wellington, he and actor/ playwright partner Abby Howells launched another venture — an experimental theatre company based on the open-access ethos of Bats Theatre.

Further overseas experience included a stint at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe before Wilson and Howells returned to Dunedin last year.

Wilson began studying for his Masters, focusing on political theatre and its role in revealing truth in the ‘‘post truth’’ era, and decided it was time to launch another theatre company.

‘‘A lot of the work I did after leaving Dunedin was focused on the governance side of running an arts organisation,’’ he said.

‘‘So I have put a lot of work into the governance structure of Arcade — I want it to be something that lasts,’’ he said.

With its focus on the many talented young actors coming through the university each year, Arcade aims to fill a gap in the current theatre scene in Dunedin.

‘‘We are hoping to provide more options for young actors in terms of performance, in the hopes of keeping them here in the city for longer,’’ he said.

‘‘They have done their three years of education here, why not put it to good use?’’

The first play of the Arcade Theatre Company’s inaugural 2018 season is Fold, by 2001 Burns Fellow Jo Randerson.

An absurdist Kiwi black comedy which takes aim at the privileged classes of society, Fold follows five acquaintances who love exchanging random presents, talking about nothing in particular and listening to elevator music.

‘‘Fold touches on that divide between the haves and have-nots,’’ Wilson said. ‘‘There is an increased tension surrounding that inequality and there seems to be a small group of people who want to keep things that way.

‘‘This play takes those people to task.’’

Fold, will run from February 28 to March 3 at Allen Hall Theatre.

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