Use of the Public Trust Building donated to Wellington queer theatre group

A cast and crew of 20 have been hard at work transforming the Public Trust Building's Great Hall into a dreamy theatre ...
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A cast and crew of 20 have been hard at work transforming the Public Trust Building's Great Hall into a dreamy theatre space for the two-week production.

An historic building in central Wellington has a new purpose - as a theatre for a same-sex love show.

The Public Trust Building on Lambton Quay has been transformed for a two-week run of Galathea: Into the Bush, a 16th century play adapted by Wellington theatre company TwinCity Productions.

Director Ania Upstill said so far the space was proving ideal and "suitably Shakespearean" for the production and offered an additional interesting element for audiences to experience.

Director Ania Upstill has been working on the getting the play ready for the past six months.
RUBY MACANDREW/FAIRFAX NZ

Director Ania Upstill has been working on the getting the play ready for the past six months.

"I like non-traditional theatre spaces and non-traditional theatre stagings. I think taking theatre out of theatres makes it more accessible and more exciting as well."

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​* My Secret Wellington: Ania Upstill

The play was originally written by Shakespeare's contemporary John Lyly and had a focus on lesbian desire that Upstill said was very radical for its time.

The Public Trust Building is owned by Wellington property developer Maurice Clarke and wife Kaye.
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The Public Trust Building is owned by Wellington property developer Maurice Clarke and wife Kaye.

"I found it fascinating that this play, which has this same-sex love, was written in 1588."

At the start of the project, Upstill held public forums for Wellington's LGBTI community to find out what type of representation they wanted to see on stage.

"The dominant message from these voices was 'we want more'," she said.

Galathea: Into the Bush begins at Midland Park before the audience is guided to the Public Trust Building on Lambton Quay.
RUBY MACANDREW/FAIRFAX NZ

Galathea: Into the Bush begins at Midland Park before the audience is guided to the Public Trust Building on Lambton Quay.

She said as a queer director she had noticed that Wellington theatre tended to neglect the experiences of LGBTI people and she felt compelled to bring something new to the table.

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"The focus is representing on stage, a variety of identities. It's not so much about awareness within the theatre community, but rather an awareness of the rainbow community put on stage."

Additionally, Upstill had worked with LGBTI youth group InsideOUT to bring the play to fruition in the Public Trust Building's Grand Hall.

The 12-strong cast all identify as queer.
RUBY MACANDREW/FAIRFAX NZ

The 12-strong cast all identify as queer.

The building is owned by Wellington developer and engineer Maurice Clark and his wife Kaye. The pair donated the use of the space through Urban Dream Brokerage.

Brokerage co-manager Mark Amery believed the concept, which had seen almost 60 projects brought to fruition in the past 3½ years, was beneficial to all involved.

"It's really vital for us in the sense that property owners have spaces that are vacant and there are opportunities for Wellingtonians to be able to engage in these spaces."

He was particularly excited to be supporting a group representing a diverse, but sometimes marginalised community.

"It's a strong statement about how inclusive Wellington is, as a city, and how culturally-savvy it is to enable a young company like this to hold that space."

However, Amery said often interest from groups wanting space outweighed the number of locations, but he hoped more property owners would offer up their free space after the benefits to an area.

"It's far better to have something activating your space and drawing attention to it than leaving it empty and looking pretty awful."

​* Galathea: Into the Bush runs until December 3 at the Public Trust Building.

 - Stuff

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