Lack of theatres prompts new collective

First show: Kindle Theatre’s Emily Burns and Chris McCrae will perform The Last Five Years.
Michael Van De Water

First show: Kindle Theatre’s Emily Burns and Chris McCrae will perform The Last Five Years.

A lack of performance venues and career prospects has prompted a group of Christchurch theatre graduates to start their own artistic collective.

Kindle Theatre is the brainchild of founders and performers Emily Burns, Ben Freeth and Jack Marshall. The three are fresh out of theatre school and looking for ways to ensure Cantabrians get regular doses of cabaret, musicals, theatre shows and stand-up comedy.

Burns, who is starring in the group's first production, The Last Five Years, says the focus will be on finding alternative performance venues.

It is a well-known fact that post-quake Christchurch is hurting for traditional theatres and Burns says Kindle will be taking a creative approach to the problem. They are after cafes, bars, empty buildings or patches of land on which to stage "boutique-style" shows.

"We're trying to set up a way for people to have access to theatre but in more intimate settings," Burns says. "We also wanted to find a way to do what we love."

"We're thinking of how to use the buildings that are here. It's about bringing artistic life back to the city."

The trio was inspired by the likes of the Pallet Pavilion - a temporary Gap Filler community and performance space - and the World Buskers Festival, which brings shows to the public in a variety of venues.

The difference is, they want to vary the venues and offer shows all year round.

The Last Five Years is being staged in the foyer at the Court Theatre and means transforming a relatively small space into a venue suitable for the two-person show. Burns performs alongside actor Chris McCrae, telling the story of a five-year relationship.

"You get to see what happens when they fall out of love," Burns says.

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Her character starts the show at the end of the relationship, while McCrae starts at the beginning. They meet in the middle for their wedding vows. It is like watching the relationship end to end and backwards and forwards. The pair are doing two performances, both on February 15, produced with a grant from the Christchurch Community Arts Council. Most projects they undertake will need funding or grants.

From there, anything is possible. Most of the 14 actors in the group have other projects to keep them busy, but are planning some kind of cabaret performance as the next item on the agenda.

Burns says the group is now on the hunt for venues and they welcome interest from anyone who thinks their space might be brightened up by a little entertainment.

 - The Press

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