Nelson's tiny Ghost Light Theatre ready for first big steps

Laura Irish in her new Ghost Light theatre at Bridge St Studios in Nelson.
Braden Fastier/Stuff

Laura Irish in her new Ghost Light theatre at Bridge St Studios in Nelson.

Where dancers once twirled and sewing machines hummed, Nelson's smallest theatre is being stitched together.

In a space measuring 10 metres by 10 metres in the new Bridge St Studios, formerly occupied by Boulder Apparel, the Ghost Light Theatre is taking shape.

Theatre founder Laura Irish said she initially pitched the idea of a small theatre space to the Nelson Fringe Arts Charitable Trust, with the aim to start The Tiny Nelson Theatre on Kirby Lane.

"We started going along that path but unfortunately things just hadn't worked out there.

"I was still very keen to get a small intimate space for theatre up and running in Nelson."

They started looking into other options when the opportunity on Bridge St opened up, Irish and her husband Charles Anderson jumped in. 

The space on 146 Bridge Street used to be filled with sewing machines from Boulder Apparel, and before that it was a dance hall. 

A ghost light in theatre terms is a single light left on stage when the theatre is unoccupied, used for safety when the cast and crew need to find their way around in the dark. 

"I feel really passionate about creating this space for the community so we decided to take the risk," Irish said.

"The Nelson Fringe Arts Charitable Trust are still totally behind [the initiative], but we are now our own not-for-profit charitable trust."

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Irish said as such they would be applying for grants and hoped for good support from the community.

"We want to embrace promising young performers and communities who might never have had access to the benefit of performing as part of a collective.

"We want to showcase and be a testing ground for local and national works and artists who try things a little differently, who experiment or push boundaries."

Tickets to shows would be "as affordable as possible", being priced at $15 or less, Irish said. The aim was for the theatre to host shows at least once a week.

She said the advantage of the space on Bridge St was that everything for a theatre was basically already in place, including an area for the light and sound crew, a ticketing system and The Hollow downstairs for people to have a drink before or after a show. 

Irish said a wall would be put to divide the space between the studios and the theatre. An eight metre long penguin mural, painted by visiting Belgian artist ROA, that used to adorn the outside of the building will now embellish the wall. 

Ghost Light Theatre would officially launch in August, but the space would be used for workshops from this week. 

The theatre's first show will be by Justin White and Georgie Sivier from Christchurch who perform the comedy production HER on August 1 as part of their national tour.

Anyone wanting to donate time, money or equipment to Ghost Light Theatre can email Laura at

 - Stuff


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