New era begins for arts students

'I hope it is the beginning of a new phase'

JOANNE BENNETT
Last updated 05:00 29/11/2013
Jason Hunt
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ
CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES: Timaru Boys’ High School senior arts person of the year Jason Hunt cuts the cake with rector Kevin O’Sullivan for the O’Sullivan Theatre.

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Timaru Boys' High School rector Kevin O'Sullivan cut the ribbon yesterday to open the school's new $700,000 drama complex, the O'Sullivan Theatre.

To Mr O'Sullivan, the investment was in recognition of the school's commitment to developing and continually supporting the arts.

"I hope it is the beginning of a new phase," he said.

Chairman of the board Mark Elliote said naming the theatre after the school's retiring rector honoured Mr O'Sullivan's interest, leadership and passion for the arts.

The formal ceremony began with Callum Smith playing the bagpipes. The combined Timaru Boys' and Girls' kapa haka performed, and helium balloons were released.

Until now, drama students have used an old science room for their lessons.

Head of performing arts Chris Cheesman said the new rooms are "just amazing".

The O'Sullivan Theatre consists of two large cojoined rooms - one is a black box performance space, and the other will be used for various activities.

"Performing arts is one of the fastest-growing subjects. We had one class five years ago, to a full programme now," Ms Cheesman said.

Timaru Boys' also offers a drama technologies course, where the students learn aspects of theatre and film, like makeup, set building, lighting, and costume design - the first of its kind in South Canterbury.

"We're branching out into all of those things, and now we have state-of-the-art facilities," Ms Cheesman said.

Students will also have access to film equipment and a green screen.

The renovation work was paid for by the school, and has been budgeted for over the past five years.

"People think of Timaru Boys' as a sports school, but in actual fact they are very generous towards the arts," Ms Cheesman said.

The performing arts department is working on fundraising $45,000 for sound and lighting equipment.

The rooms will be well utilised next year, particularly for the 2014 production of Oh! What a Lovely War, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.

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- The Timaru Herald

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