Town's theatres class venue act
Timaru has more amateur theatre productions per year per head of population than anywhere else in New Zealand and few suitable places to rehearse.
The South Canterbury Drama League was founded in 1935 and produces eight shows a year with two major Theatre Royal productions, two theatre restaurant shows, and four Playhouse plays.
For productions to be staged in a venue such as the Theatre Royal, rehearsals first take place at the SCDL's own rooms as close to opening night as possible to avoid budget blowouts.
To hire the Theatre Royal, which is administered by the Timaru District Council, costs about $51 an hour for rehearsals and between $600 and a $1000 a day for performances.
With just over 1000 seats, good audience numbers are important for breaking even. Few productions make a profit.
Though school or community halls are cheaper at about $22 an hour to a few hundred dollars for an evening, they are not set up to cope with a production. They require a lot of work and equipment such as lighting grids to get them up to scratch. The SCDL hires out its own rooms to other theatre companies, schools, dance groups and bands as well.
Drama league president Kevin Foley says prices are set case by case as they have no set policy.
Although schools would probably not be charged, commercial performance companies would be.
"Most hires cover costs," he says.
He says the secretary, management and committee made each decision on cost.
Boheme Entertainment producer/director Kimble Henderson says she prefers The Playhouse for performing small productions compared with school halls.
"It has a great ambience for kids and families."
She says it is exciting for young children to go to the theatre and for young performers to be on stage at one.
- © Fairfax NZ News