November 6, 2007

maidment to close! Ak theatre Crisis!

worried worried               posted 29 Jun 2007, 12:17 AM / edited 6 Nov 2007, 08:48 PM

A deeply concerning situation is looming with Ak Uni planning to reclaim the Maidment Theatre in 2008…thus robbing the city of the ATC’s hub venue..not to mention other theatre groups. This is a major concern! Auckland is a city gravely in need of excellent theatre spaces. Where will ATC perform? ( Skycity is too big, Herald too small for most  ATC plays)Will they buy back the Mercury from Equippers Church? Will Ak and the ATC finally a have a purpose built venue on the waterfront like the STC in Sydney? Or Circa in Wgtn? This is of National concern, as our Theatre is fragile and at last productions are starting to tour more intercity where the nation can see work from other centres.we need more venues,not less!!!Perhaps I am “preaching to the converted”… However..the more noise and outrage the better from the passionate theatre community and theatre lover’s the better. I believe this should be addressed at Government level!

Jack F    posted 29 Jun 2007, 08:23 AM

What’s happening to Luxemburg Gardens? Who is badgering the council about this? Time a few more of you banded together and pressured the Auckland councils chambers and got THEM off their arse. Auckland’s got to prove its commitment before we have more Jaffas whining at the govt.

Marc      posted 29 Jun 2007, 08:31 AM

Don’t forget about the Q Theatre Project on Queens Street. The councils point of view is probably that they have contributed heavily to theatre already. But the problem is that they will be forming a company and staging their own projects. The loss of the Maidment should be of deep concern to Auckland, which is due, if it hasn’t already, to overtake Wellington as the cultural capital.

Wgtn Mary         posted 29 Jun 2007, 08:58 AM

Such a competitive lot, these Aucklanders!! Culture isn’t a RACE, darlings; you’ve been watching too much yachting on the telly! You’ll understand when you’ve been in the business as long as we have.

John Smythe      posted 29 Jun 2007, 10:45 AM

‘Cultural capital’ is a term that sums up the value of cultural self-expression* as a social and economic asset. It is central to current government and corporate thinking and has implications, and practical application, in commerce, trade and tourism as well as in all sectors of the arts.

‘Cultural capital’ belongs to all of us. It is an asset we can squander or use wisely as an investment in the wellbeing of this and future generations. That Wellington – being the capital of NZ – has exploited the term to its advantage is simply a clever piece of brand marketing which has helped to keep the concept of ‘cultural capital’ alive in our thinking and conversation.

Let’s not get partisan about it and reduce it to a turf war. It’s bigger than any of us. And let’s not get sidetracked from the Auckland Theatre (venue) Crisis – which is the topic of this forum. I am currently on a quest for official information. Meanwhile I note the Auckland Theatre Company lists the Hopetoun Alpha as one of its venues. Is that a viable alternative to the Maidment?

*Off the top of my head, ‘cultural self-expression’ includes – but is not limited to – identification of cultural distinctions, ‘self’-definition/ examination/ confrontation, socio-political satire, works that are challenging and/or provocative at artistic, social or political levels … What have I not included?

holly jones          posted 29 Jun 2007, 11:05 AM

The Hopetown Alpha is really a hall with terrible acoustics…ok for small show with mics.. The Auckland Welly thing is silly and with such a tiny industry we need to start thinking of a National Theatre and more outlets for NZ plays! AK and NZ is in Theatrical Crisis…All must band together to help us find our voice and venues all over the country to express it!

Wgtn Mary         posted 29 Jun 2007, 01:31 PM

National Theatre! NoOOOOOOOO!! Run by some arrogant dickwit everybody can’t stand, soaking up millions of CNZ dollars to do NZ plays all in the same style by a raft of the same old same old boring directors! Please, give me regional variety any day! One good thing, it would probably ensure that the theatre fringe was REALLY exciting. And what’s wrong with a bit of Ak Wgtn banter!?? It’s FUN! What’s wrong with a bit of fun?? All we’re doing is flirting really, in a Wildean sort of way – and what’s wrong with that?? Telling people to behave (yet again you old fuddy duddy) won’t stop it happening, John, so it might as be aired on this site. Apart from which the different approaches to theatre in Ak and Wgtn are fascinating and would probably make a great forum.

holly jones          posted 29 Jun 2007, 02:19 PM / edited 29 Jun 2007, 02:22 PM

Hail Mary…glad 2 c ur a passionate Wellite! Nat theatre or not I reckon we need more NZ work on our stages, and in AK’s case better stages to put them on!

 RE AK WGTN…Ak’s often had a very physical approach,with companies like Inside Out and Theatre at Large…alas no more…often with LeCoq, Gallie (sp?) devised approach….Welli……………..? Mary?

Marc      posted 29 Jun 2007, 05:01 PM

The term Cultural Capital was NOT the main point of my comment. The point is NEW ZEALAND is losing (potentially) another independent theatre space that independent companies can stage their work in. Wellington has no such venue of that size for indies to produce their work, people should be worried about this rather than a nonsense tag invented by the marketing boys and girls at the council (wgtn) who don’t put their money where their mouth is.

Marc      posted 29 Jun 2007, 05:06 PM

Furthermore, a National Theatre isn’t such a bad idea. Don’t think along the British model though, whats wrong with a properly funded company whose m.o. to give new works the time they need, re stage proven works, not have a home base theatre and TOUR extensively throughout the country?

John Smythe      posted 29 Jun 2007, 05:14 PM / edited 29 Jun 2007, 05:24 PM

This is what I’ve gleaned so far:

“Maidment to close” is not exactly accurate. 2008 programming has been completed on the main stage through to mid October 2008 and work has also begun on next year’s programme for the Musgrove Studio.  Then, in October 2008 a maintenance programme to replace the roof of the theatre will begin.

I am told that:

    The University of Auckland does not need to “reclaim” the Maidment as it has always been University owned. For the past 30 years the theatre has presented a wide range of campus, community and professional performance with the support of the University.

    It is true that the Vice Chancellor is reviewing how the Maidment fits into future University plans and needs, and it is expected that the results of that review will be announced before year end 2007.

The questions are, then: who is the Vice Chancellor consulting and what – as ‘worried worried’ asks – are the implications for Auckland theatre at large and the ATC in particular?  (I hope to hear something official from the ATC early next week.)

Tugol     posted 29 Jun 2007, 05:16 PM

I just worry about the monopoly of style that might develop; I have sometimes seen different productions of the same play in different centres, and the different interpretations are fascinating; the different city cultures clearly have an impact, and this is important. And also while on the face of it one Nat theatre seems a cost effective idea, touring costs are phenomenal. I suspect it would cost just the same to ‘properly fund’ a theatre in each major city to present their own productions and maybe swap occasionally as we do now. This also means that actors and other theatre workers are supported locally, making each city much richer.

Marc      posted 29 Jun 2007, 05:24 PM

That is an excellent argument for regional theatre. I don’t know what the answer is, I like your idea as much as mine.

holly jones          posted 29 Jun 2007, 05:32 PM / edited 29 Jun 2007, 05:33 PM

Maybe both…strong regional theatre and an increase in intercity shows, as in OZ between all the major companies. Plus a company that might tour new work here and offshore. Good investigation work  John, re Maidment..any interest may help sway the Uni to keep this venue alive in the wider community

John Smythe      posted 29 Jun 2007, 05:41 PM

I agree Tugol, Holly, et al. The regional ‘recurrently funded’ theatres are already our national theatre. And as such their first priority should be NZ theatre. We’ve tried national touring companies before – from the NZ Players to The NZ Actors’ Company – and they haven’t worked for a range of reasons, mostly economic.

Downstage responded to the demise of the NZ Players by evolving its own idiosyncratic model within its own community – and it was the Arts Council that later made it conform more to the English Rep model (shameless plug: see Downstage Upfront – the first 40 years of NZ’s longest running professional theatre, VUP 2004).

The diversity of approach and style within each city, in response to its own community, enriches our theatre culture, offers more work opportunities for professionals (who can gravitate to the place that suits them best) and – as Tugol says – touring shows between centres can bring breaths of fresh air to each town that help to blow the cobwebs away.

holly jones          posted 29 Jun 2007, 05:44 PM / edited 29 Jun 2007, 05:45 PM

The NZ content issue interesting…how much NZ work is being done? Also by theatres like Silo, Bats? More and more hopefully…..

Insider007           posted 30 Jun 2007, 10:21 PM

I can speak for The Court Theatre. This year on our main stage we are doing four NEW New Zealand plays including two world premieres.

The Thirty Nine Steps is currently on, With The Raft, Who wants to be 100? And Letter to Blanchy:stir Crazy to follow.

On top of that there are all the childrens show (four this year) which are all New Zealand written.

As well as three improvisation type shows being created.

I Think New Zealand theatres are brilliant at staging NZ work

Simon Bennett posted 3 Jul 2007, 02:28 PM

I was involved with the New Zealand Actor’s Company from its inception to its rather sad demise. We produced two large-scale touring productions: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Roger Hall’s A Way of Life. Both these tours, though very expensive, were met with such demand in the regional as well as main centres, that they were viable. What killed the Actor’s Company was our Leah production which was designed for the International Festival and an Auckland season, rather than a national tour. This was an ambitious and risky work that got critically slammed and which very few people came to see. Five years of hindsight (brow-beating and soul-searching) taught me that Leah was too risky/difficult a production this early on in the Company’s career, the central idea behind the production was probably ill-concieved and it certainly didn’t have the mass appeal our previous two productions had. Fundamentally, however, the funding/arts environment in this country is so precarious that it doesn’t allow for failure – we didn’t have the financial resources to weather that particular storm. So I do believe that national touring is viable in New Zealand. It does, however need to be backed up with infrastructure and a funding base that can allow for some failure – as failure is an inevitable part of creative endeavour.

holly jones          posted 3 Jul 2007, 02:37 PM

Hear Hear!

Simon Bennett posted 3 Jul 2007, 02:49 PM

Maybe, John, this is a new topic? A New Zealand National Theatre?

Peter Silver         posted 3 Jul 2007, 02:58 PM

Great idea Simon, I have started one

Raewyn Whyte posted 5 Aug 2007, 01:07 PM / edited 5 Aug 2007, 02:01 PM

RE Auckland’s new Q Theatre on Queen Street :

Just to correct Marc’s observation on 29 June  — he said…”But the problem is that they will be forming a company and staging their own projects.”

Q Theatre will NOT be forming a PERFORMING ensemble aka “theatre company”

It will be forming an OPERATING company which will be responsible for operating the venue, programming the venue, and commissioning projects.  The General Manager has already been appointed – Susanne Ritzenhoff   For more information   see

Marc      posted 6 Aug 2007, 10:49 AM

My mistake – sorry. Thank you for the correction Raewyn.

neil furby             posted 9 Aug 2007, 11:13 AM

I went to the Q Theatre web site but was disappointed that the time line for the project seems to have stalled at September 2006 .Not a good look for sponsors stake holders and interested parties !!

John Smythe      posted 14 Sep 2007, 10:51 PM / edited 14 Sep 2007, 11:17 PM


The following contributions have been moved from the Forum called ‘Who is fooling who’.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Patrick Graham [posted 12 Sep 2007, 01:45 PM / edited 13 Sep 2007, 12:05 AM]

“In Auckland theatre seems to be in a malaise” [This was the starting point of James Clemson’s diatribe.]

Is it really … what about the fringe companies that spring up to perform in venues other than the Maidment or Silo?

What about … The Rebell Alliance, Fingertips and Teeth, theatrewhack, The Peripeteia Players, Phundmi Productions, Proudly Presents, Devise and Destroy theatre and there are more fringe  companies than listed here.

Do these young and talented companies not exist?

What about THE STAMP creative development program at The EDGE?

Why do we keep blaming people for the down fall of theatre when we as practitioners should be creating a vibrant interesting theatre scene?

I want to know why audiences are not more willing to take a risk?

I don’t want to blame I want to keep experimenting and creating

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Tamati Patuwai  [posted 12 Sep 2007, 02:04 PM]

Tautoko P.G…

there are so many orsum efforts made by people outside of the mainstream square. Not just efforts but some very credible and at times inspiring creations.

Perceiving the established venues as places that validate art and our work is an issue. Fortunately many artists are just getting on with it and doing a fantastic job!

Kia kaha to them/us

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Creature7   posted 12 Sep 2007, 05:06 PM

Hi Patrick, well I really wish you and The Rebel Alliance, Fingertips and Teeth, theatrewhack, The Peripeteia Players, Phundmi Productions, Proudly Presents, Devise and Destroy theatre and all the others – I’ve heard of none of them – would advertise themselves on this site and give us their views on the current state of Ak Theatre, would be very refreshing to get their point of view and know what they’re doing. This site the perfect place; If they’re shy they should use a pseudonym (ignore Mick Rose) [see Pseudonym forum – ed]

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

nik smythe   posted 12 Sep 2007, 05:25 PM / edited 13 Sep 2007, 12:05 AM

i know for a fact that Devise and Destroy have a MySpace page, and that if you google for any of those company names you will find websites and/or info on productions past and future.

i gather a significant amount of the drive behind these companies is related to the original moot – that mainstream theatre in Auckland, particularly ATC, tends to be safe and unadventurous, relying pretty much on production values as the main drawcard.  i didn’t see the Crucible, but in general the responses i have heard were more positive than James’.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Devise & Destroy Theatre   posted 13 Sep 2007, 01:18 PM / edited 13 Sep 2007, 02:12 PM

Hi, (my opinion)

1 James Clemson if you are so interested/passionate about the state of Auckland theatre and ATC in particular then apply for the internship. Change it yourself.

2 Pillowman is a great play, go see it.

3 I agree with PG and feel that fringe companies are creeping up. There are alot of talented actors/producers that are putting on their own work.  However I do agree with Nik when he mentions that these shows are usually put on with a number 8 wire attitude with very “creative” production and marketing. But I feel the more actors we get working in this city (AK) the more diverse the work will become.  Creature7 if you walked past an A4 black and white poster 0n a wall (donned where you would normally see some bands latest gig) would you think about going to the show? Probably not? But that is fine. Personally, in Auckland, I feel these fringe companies are our best chance at introducing new audiences to theatre.

We need to stop feeling dissatisfied with what is currently out there and think about what we want. We need to look at other vibrant artistic mediums (music, art, fashion) and see where they are working at getting and maintaining new audiences and also getting new and exciting work up and running. Support of the culture is paramount. More websites devoted to featuring new work, more articles on fringe work in media, more venues, more advertising funding given out, more homegrown number 8 wire theatre. They will come because of the culture surrounding our work and they will keep coming back for the work.

What you may feel is a malaise or failure James (ATC, silo) others see as a complete success. It all depends on what you want. And if you want something to change so badly there isn’t going to be one person that is going to step in to a position and do it for you.  So witch-hunting previous artistic directors (who have actually kept this art “that isn’t a must” going for the last 20 years) isn’t constructive at all.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sam Snedden   posted 13 Sep 2007, 11:20 PM / edited 14 Sep 2007, 07:38 AM

So the University is not taking back the Maidment? It’s going to stay an ATC Venue?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

John Smythe   posted 14 Sep 2007, 07:48 AM / edited 14 Sep 2007, 10:32 AM

Regarding the Maidment, please see my post of 26 June (above), based on an email from director Paul Minifie (Director of the Maidment Theatre).

Blair Cooper       posted 19 Sep 2007, 10:47 AM

Once again, for the hard of thinking, the facts…

1/   The University of Auckland has owned and operated the Maidment Theatre for over 30 years and so can’t be said to be “taking it back”

2/  The University maintains an ongoing review of all its spaces to maximise efficient usage and enure that its needs are being met. The Maidment, being part of the University (see point 1) is naturally a part of that process.

3/  Decisions about changes (if any) to the Maidment’s operating pattern will be made and publicised before the end of 2007.

4/  In the meantime, progamming is complete for both the Mainstage and Studio spaces through to mid-october 2008, with the usual wide variety of clients including Auckland Theatre Company.

5/  In mid-october 2008, the Maidment will commence major capital works to replace the roof which leaks badly every time (every time) it rains. The University would hardly be spending the many thousands such a project costs if it intended to decommission the building.

Until more facts emerge, speculation and rumour mongering are futile. After more facts emerge, it is planning, not panic, that will be appropriate.

Will Gaisford      posted 22 Sep 2007, 08:27 PM

You go girl!

Catherine Nola posted 18 Oct 2007, 03:00 PM / edited 6 Nov 2007, 08:48 PM

Hello.  Very delayed reply here to Neil’s observation on Q Theatre’s website.  My apologies, as I’ve been extremely slow to update our website with news, but it’s done now, so for the full story go to

But here’s the quick highlights:

    For those that don’t already know: Q Theatre will be a mid -sized flexible performance space located at 305 Queen Street at the back of the Town Hall and next door to the Silo and Classic.  It will primarily operate as a venue for hire with an auditorium (seating between 350 – 460), two rehearsal rooms, and an open all day café and bar.  Q Theatre will also set up an entrepreneurial subsidiary company which will act as a co-producer for more developmental / risky works and to support emerging practitioners to help them into the venue (we anticipate around 3 co-produced shows per year).

    Q Theatre has now raised over 80% of it’s required funding.  We have recently received an additional $4.6m grant from Auckland City Council and grants from the ASB Community Trust now total just under $4.5m.  We have an application in with Central Govt (through the Lotteries Commission) and we are currently recruiting for a fundraising manager to help us source the balance from a variety of gaming trusts, private trusts and private donors.

    Q Theatre has lodged a resource consent application and current plans have a construction start date of mid-late 2008, with a construction period of around 2 years, meaning, all going to plan, Auckland should have a new theatre open it’s doors around late 2010.

Please – if any of you have any further questions about Q Theatre, either post them here and I will respond, or do pick up the phone and go about it the old fashioned way – our number is 09 309 8324.


Catherine Nola

Q Theatre

[THIS HAS NOW BEEN MOVED TO ITS OWN FORUM, NAMED ‘Q THEATRE’. Please continue the discussion there, if it is specifically to do with Q Theatre plans.]

John Smythe      posted 6 Nov 2007, 08:46 PM

This from Paul Minifie, director of the Maidment:

4 November 2007


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You are probably aware the Vice Chancellor has been considering how Maidment Theatre best fits into future University of Auckland  plans and needs.

I am pleased to tell you that the Vice Chancellor has confirmed that we are to proceed with University and community bookings for both the Maidment Theatre and Musgrove Studio for 2008 and 2009.

The review of the theatre is likely to be an ongoing process and may involve discussions with a range of interested parties and theatre users. We hope that if you are approached, that you will feel free to express your views concerning the role and place of Maidment Theatre in the city.

A diverse and exciting programme is being contracted and confirmed up to and including 12 October 2008. The theatre will then close for four months for a much needed re-roofing project.

The new performance season will begin 8 February 2009.

We look forward to seeing you at the theatre in the New Year.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Minifie


Share on social


Make a comment