Meteor blazing brightly six months on

Theatre reflects vibrancy of city's arts scene

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 15:05 31/07/2014
 Mums Vs Monsters
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MUM'S THE WORLD: Ari McAlley, Phoenix Cross and Emily Donderwinkel appeared in Mums Vs Monsters, a show for kids staged at the theatre.

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The council set the bar high - and The Meteor has soared over it at twice the height.

It will be six months ago tomorrow that the One Victoria Trust was given the keys to the Meteor Theatre by the Hamilton City Council and charged with the task of making a success of the venue.

The council set key performance indicators for The Meteor, with a main one being bringing 5000 users through the building within 12 months.

Before a full six months have gone by, The Meteor has now had more than 6000 users in total, counting both performers and audience members - a reflection of both the hard work of the trust and the vibrancy of Hamilton's arts scene.

"When the One Victoria Trust first presented the Meteor proposal to the council we made the case that there was strong demand for an accessible community theatre and performing arts facility in Hamilton," trust spokesman William Farrimond said.

"Our case was accepted, we were given the theatre and the hard work of proving the point began," says Dr Farrimond. "We're pleased to report that we're doing very well at showing - and meeting - the demand for The Meteor.

"We are on track to more than double the target of 5000 users within 12 months of operation. Since our official launch event on April 4, we have had 76 days where the theatre has been in use by one or more groups. This means the occupancy rate of the theatre has been approximately 65 per cent."

To date there have been 30 different performances, and more that 150 "discrete" uses of the theatre - things like rehearsals, meetings and gatherings, many of which have been youth-focused or youth-led.

Three part-time managers are employed to run all aspects of the theatre, with a wide, growing volunteer base providing assistance.

Farrimond said he and the rest of the team took particular pride in the range of events staged at the venue. As well as hosting expected productions such as the acclaimed touring plays Miss Fletcher Sings The Blues and Strange Resting Places, Meteor audiences had seen Toa Fraser's play Bare adapted and performed by high school teachers and students; high school theatresports; gigantic kinetic sculpture installations; Petchakucha; and various music gigs, art exhibitions and music video filming. It hosted an information day in collaboration with the Hamilton City Council for the Hamilton City River Plan.

There are plenty of more events on the horizon and one that has just arrived - a new, fast-paced adaptation of Macbeth, directed by Ross MacLeod and David Taylor of Hamilton theatre collective Apocalypse Lounge, which is playing in the first two weeks of August.

The Fullhouse Theatre company then has an original play called Choice!! starting on August 14.

Following the success of In Extremis at the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival earlier this year, director Louise Drummond is staging Howard Brenton's Anne Boleyn at The Meteor in October.

Favourite shows like Trees At The Meteor will be returning, as will the theatre's own semi-regular Performance Cafe events, which showcase emerging and local talent.

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"We're up and running with a great range of shows in the building, but we need support to keep up the good work," said Farrimond.

"To that end, we're launching a supporters group called The Meteorites. At just $5 a week - the price of just one slightly expensive coffee, or two cheap ones - The Meteorites is a low-cost way for the community to contribute towards keeping The Meteor as an accessible, vibrant, living place for performing arts in the community."

The Meteorites can be subscribed to by visiting themeteor.co.nz/the-meteorites.

People interested in volunteering at The Meteor can contact info@themeteor.co.nz for more information.

mike.mather@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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