As a young aspiring actor, Sam Neill stood under the bright lights of Downstage.
Since then he has been a strong advocate for the theatre, last year saying a Wellington without Downstage was "unthinkable".
And more than four decades later, he is returning to that very stage, this time in conversation with long-time friend and film critic Simon Morris.
In 1970, a young Neill appeared in a Downstage production of Marat/Sade directed by Mervyn Thompson. The same year he was back again in The Bacchae, before launching his film career.
In April he toured the theatre as the Live at Six set was being built.
Downstage marketing and communications manager Aaron Alexander said the theatre was looking at multiple funding avenues including looking for private donors and holding fund raising activities.
Their programme had been broadened to include one-off events such as debates and conversations, he said.
Neill offered to do the event without a fee to support Downstage, after he was involved in Bare, a performance at Auckland's The Edge which raised funds for Christchurch following the February 22 earthquake last year.
During the conversation, Neill will talk about his early days on stage, through to working with the likes of Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg.
Before the show begins, there will be an exclusive wine-tasting event for invited Downstage Theatre Society donors, where the upstairs bar will be christened the Two Paddocks Lookout, in honour of Neill's Central Otago vineyard.
Late last year, Downstage were forced to cancel shows and lay off staff citing reduced funding and lower than anticipated ticket sales due to the tough economic climate being the cause of their financial troubles.
In response, they held a fund raising auction in November and Neill offered two magnums of pinot noir from his Two Paddocks vineyard. The auction raised almost $20,000.
Sam Neill in Conversation (with Simon Morris) will take place on Friday, August 3 at 7pm. Tickets range from $55 to $95 from downstage.co.nz. For more information about becoming a Downstage donor email email@example.com
- © Fairfax NZ News
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