NZ theatre will take cen­tre stage

Month’s cel­e­bra­tion of Kiwi plays be­gins next Septem­ber

The New Zealand Herald - - PUZZLES AND HOROSCOPES - Dionne Chris­tian

New Zealand theatre is to be “cel­e­brated and el­e­vated” with a month-long event. Play­wright Roger Hall, one of the coun­try’s most pro­lific and suc­cess­ful theatre writ­ers, yes­ter­day an­nounced plans for a NZ Theatre Month next Septem­ber.

Speak­ing at Theatre NZ’s TheatreFest fi­nals, a com­pe­ti­tion for com­mu­nity and school groups, Hall said he wants pro­fes­sional and com­mu­nity stage out­fits to per­form plays by lo­cal writ­ers to show the depth, breadth and qual­ity of NZ work.

He cites fig­ures from Play­mar­ket show­ing it gave per­mis­sion for 300 pro­duc­tions of NZ work in 2016 while 30 more lo­cally writ­ten plays were per­formed over­seas.

“They brought in $4.3 mil­lion of ticket sales and this rep­re­sents only works li­censed by Play­mar­ket,” says Hall.

In ad­di­tion, sport and en­ter­tain­ment re­search spe­cial­ists the Gemba Group say theatre at­ten­dance is higher than for any sport ex­cept rugby. Gemba NZ’s gen­eral man­ager, Richard Howarth, says the num­ber of adults go­ing to the theatre has in­creased by 13 per cent since 2015.

“We put that down to it meet­ing peo­ple’s de­sire for both a so­cial oc­ca­sion and a fun, en­joy­able evening out, as they are two of the key mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tors we track for event at­ten­dance,” says Howarth.

“That wasn’t a sur­prise re­sult to us, as we know there are more peo­ple who con­sider them­selves to be pas­sion­ate about theatre than pop­u­lar tra­di­tional Kiwi sports like cricket and net­ball, or play­ing elec­tronic or com­puter games.”

With theatre at venues rang­ing from The Civic to Gar­net Station cafe; in bars, base­ments and buses, pur­pose-built the­atres, com­mu­nity cen­tres and school halls from

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