Downstage Theatre

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Hannah Playhouse
Downstage Theatre Wellington.JPG
General information
Location 12 Cambridge Terrace, Te Aro, Wellington
Current tenants Downstage Theatre
Completed 1973
Design and construction
Architect James Beard

The Downstage Theatre was a theatre in Wellington, New Zealand, and the country's longest running professional theatre, established in 1964.[1] The founders at the inaugural meeting in the Wellington Public Library on 15 May 1964 were actors Peter Bland, Tim Eliott and Martyn Sanderson, with restauranteur Harry Seresin for the business arrangements.[2] Sanderson believed in a small professional company in Wellington performing challenging works in an intimate venue.

The first locally-written production, in 1966, was Father's Day a dark social comedy by Peter Bland starring Pat Evison as the eccentric mother with two pregnant daughters.

The original “Downstage Theatre” was on the site of the “Hannah Playhouse” and was destroyed when the latter was built. Contrary to popular misconception Downstage Theatre company ran for a considerable time in the original building the "Walkabout" coffee bar on Courtenay Place before it shifted to the Rowing Club building when the playhouse was built.

The original 1964 stage was in the upper floor in the coffee bar, in 1968 the company took over the building and the whole upper storey became the new adaptable Theatre Restaurant. This was designed by B.Woods as the major project in the final year at the Wellington School of Design, the builder was Graham Maclean.

Raymond Boyce New Zealand’s Living Treasure Theatre Designer was on the board of Downstage when the playhouse was built and he acted as the Theatre consultant to the Architects Ron Parker and James Beard.

The theatre is based at the Hannah Playhouse which seats approximately 250 people in the main auditorium, and is situated in Courtenay Place in central Wellington. The present building opened in 1973, and replaced earlier premises upstairs on the same site. Downstage temporarily occupied the Star Boating Club during construction.

Downstage Theatre closed September 17th 2013 after lack of adequate and stable funding. [3]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Downstage a Wellington fixture". Dominion Post. 7 January 2010. 
  2. ^ obituary of Tim Eliott in Dominion Post of 14 May 2011, page A28
  3. ^ Cardy, Tom. "Downstage theatre company to close". stuff.co.nz. 

Further references can be found in Smythe, John (2004) Downstage Upfront - A 40th Anniversary Biography, ISBN 9780864734891 [1]

Coordinates: 41°17′37″S 174°47′01″E / 41.2937°S 174.7836°E / -41.2937; 174.7836