The­atre opens af­ter three years

Havelock North Village Press - - News - By LINDA HALL

Af­ter al­most three years of hard work by a group of ded­i­cated peo­ple, the Keirunga The­atre is fi­nally open for busi­ness.

Juliet Cot­trell, pres­i­dent of the Keirunga Arts & Craft So­ci­ety, says she has had the priv­i­lege of work­ing with a fan­tas­tic group of vol­un­teers with­out whom this would not be hap­pen­ing.

“We are be­yond ex­cited about what the fu­ture holds for Keirunga.”

A fire in early Au­gust 2016, thought to be de­lib­er­ately lit, left many artists dis­placed and plans for rede­vel­op­ing the the­atre were halted.

“Nearly three years later, the re­open­ing of Keirunga — the cre­ative hub — marks the be­gin­ning of new pos­si­bil­i­ties,” Cot­trell says. “Old groups are re­group­ing, new groups are form­ing. The new spa­ces we have cre­ated will bring a much-needed in­jec­tion of cre­ativ­ity to our com­mu­nity.

“We have been wait­ing a long time to move back in. We hope to be the hub of many new cre­ative en­deav­ours in vis­ual, per­form­ing and tex­tile arts and craft — both con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional.

“For the the­atre to be­come truly func­tional and be avail­able as a multi pur­pose space we need the com­mu­nity’s help in pur­chas­ing the re­tractable seat­ing, hence the open­ing on Fri­day is also the launch of our Please Be Seated cam­paign. Oh and watch this space for stage three! It’s go­ing to be amaz­ing!”

Please be Seated is a fundrais­ing cam­paign to pur­chase re­tractable seat­ing. Andy Brig­den, Out East Cre­ative Ltd di­rec­tor, says re­tractable seat­ing will make the space far more us­able.

“The venue’s new de­sign al­lows for re­tractable tiered seat­ing, which gives us the flex­i­bil­ity to make the space avail­able to a va­ri­ety of groups.”

You can spon­sor a seat or sim­ply do­nate to the cam­paign.

A spe­cial treat for those at­tend­ing the open­ing night last Fri­day was a per­for­mance by Lady Larisa. Larisa was born and bred in Hawke’s Bay and has “fam­ily his­tory with the Keirunga Arts & Craft So­ci­ety”.

“My mother, So­nia Kel­let, known as ‘Sunny’ to her friends, di­rected some of the sold out shows in the very early days for Keirunga Homestead The­atre,” Larisa said.

“Mum, who is now 85 and liv­ing in Perth, told me years ago that to raise money for a re­build­ing fund to ex­tend the old build­ing, ev­ery group that func­tioned at Keirunga was asked to dis­play their prod­ucts (art, pot­tery, rock and min­eral, gar­den­ing group and other groups) and par­tic­i­pate in an open day which raised a con­sid­er­able amount of money, while the Drama Group staged a ben­e­fit night with two one-act plays which sold out im­me­di­ately and the money raised was do­nated to the re­build­ing fund. Mum pro­duced one of those plays, Mr Samson.

“She also pro­duced the the­atre’s first three-act play years ago — J B Pri­est­ley’s play An In­spec­tor Calls, with the sea­son com­pletely sold out be­fore the pro­duc­tion be­gan.

“So Keirunga is close to my heart. As a kid I was asked what I wanted to do for my birth­day and I chose to have it at Keirunga Gar­dens. All us kids ran around un­der the oaks. It’s my cham­pagne dream.”

Larisa has re­cently re­lo­cated to Hawke’s Bay af­ter her pas­sion for mu­sic took her to LA and Hol­ly­wood where she de­vel­oped her mu­si­cal and en­ter­tain­ment skills.

“I fol­lowed my dreams. I wanted to live in Bev­erly Hills and work in Hol­ly­wood. So I went. I gave my­self a day to find a job and I did it. I landed a job on Sun­set Strip and the Cat & Fid­dle, an English rock bar. It was fan­tas­tic. It was when Guns’N’ Roses were on top. They would drop in with their fly­ers for there gigs. The mu­si­cians bar was also pop­u­lar with the likes of Rod Stewart and The Stones show­ing their faces.”

She says Keirunga is a place that should be trea­sured.

■ For more in­for­ma­tion on Please Be Seated go to

Lady Larisa

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