Leaky roof diverts holiday play to alternate venue

Dunedin Repertory Society vice-president Jemma Adams is leading a project to repair the roof of...
Dunedin Repertory Society vice-president Jemma Adams is leading a project to repair the roof of The Playhouse, and plans for future refurbishment of the theatre. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
The Dunedin Repertory Society is unable to use The Playhouse for its school holiday production of Treasure Island, due to the building’s damaged and leaky roof.

Instead, the show is being staged at the Logan Park High School auditorium until October 4.

Dunedin Repertory Society vice-president Jemma Adams said the theatre’s roof sprang a leak during the Covid-19 lockdown, resulting in damage to the carpet, seats, and electrical equipment.

"We have a list of things that need to be done so we can get back into the theatre — replacing the roof being the most important," Mrs Adams said.

"Right now we are focusing on the most urgent work to keep the theatre operating."

The society had received a $40,000 grant from the Dunedin City Council’s Heritage Fund, which would allow it to replace the roof soon, she said.

The need to repair the damage inside the theatre had prompted the society to embark on a project to refurbish the theatre for the longer term.

"We need to ensure it stays fit for purpose," she said.

Built in 1876 as an Oddfellows lodge, the site was converted into a theatre in the 1960s and was bought by the Dunedin Repertory Society in the early 1970s.

A combination of three buildings, The Playhouse has played an important role in Dunedin’s theatre history — most recently as host to children’s theatre productions.

"The Playhouse is still a special place, and is still important in the theatre landscape in Dunedin," Mrs Adams said.

"It is a great size, with 136 seats, is in a good location, and has one of the few proscenium stages left in the city.

"It is definitely worth preserving."

As it embarks on a project to refurbish the theatre, the society has applied for funding for a feasibility study, including fire safety, engineering, and seismic reports.

"Hopefully out of that feasibility study, we will get a list of things that really need to be done, and a price tag for a renovation," Mrs Adams said.

"And at that stage, we will need to embark on fundraising, including going to the community for support."

Even though it was not possible to use The Playhouse to stage the Treasure Island children’s show, it had been a great experience for the young actors to have the chance to perform during such a difficult year.

"This is the first time we have had to present a show off-site since the theatre was founded, and we are very grateful to Logan Park High School for their support."

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