June 7, 2008
DOWNSTAGE DARES TO BE DIFFERENT
Downstage, New Zealand s longest running professional theatre, will keep its doors open. The recent Creative New Zealand (CNZ) Arts Board meeting on 26 May confirmed the company would receive funding until the end of the year. CNZ also acknowledged the good work currently going on by the Downstage Board and staff.
In the future Downstage intends to showcase the very best and latest in New Zealand theatre-making. The theatre is not proposing to reinvent the wheel but to enrich what already exists. The company’s evolution, therefore, becomes a process of looking at the familiar in new ways. It builds on strengths and motivates others to contribute to that realisation.
Downstage’s new Transitional Manager Hilary Beaton describes Downstage’s future direction as follows: "All organisations have life cycles. These are loosely defined as entrepreneurial, growth, maturity and decline. But not all organisations go into decline after reaching maturity. An organisation such as Downstage Theatre has proven it can go through a period of renewal and end up back at the entrepreneurial stage aligning itself for further growth. Growth in this instance does not necessarily mean expansionism in numerical or material terms but in vision and influence."
Opening its doors twice a year to proposals from New Zealand theatre-makers, independent producers, arts and cultural organisations and festivals, Downstage will encourage partnerships between a variety of artists and cultures. It will encourage new collaborations across art form practice, as well as source new season plays and productions, from NZ and overseas, and call for fresh interpretations of extant works.
Downstage will host a presentation of the new company vision and submission process on Saturday 21 June in an open forum with Wellington’s creative community. Meanwhile, it is business as usual.
According to Laurie Atkinson from the Dominion Post Ginette McDonald and Downstage are on to a winner with their current production My Brilliant Divorce, which is showing till 28 June. The play from Irish playwright Geraldine Aron is starring Ginette McDonald, who started her career at the theatre at the age of 14. "When I was growing up in Wellington in the 60’s, Downstage Theatre was quite simply the funkiest place to be. It seemed to be bursting with creative energy, passion and commitment. It was love at first sight. Downstage provided me with the opportunity to explore my potential. It is part of my DNA."
This will be followed by Strike’s new show Elemental, which opens on 3 July. The show features four of the country’s top percussionists harnessing the sonic power of the elements; fire, water, earth and the airwaves and takes the audience on a breathtaking rhythmical journey. "Elemental has been specifically designed for intimate theatres, and Downstage is the perfect venue for this show, "Strike’s Manager Jamie Bull says.
Downstage will also hosts the return season of the sell-out show "On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark taking me as her Young Lover" which will run from 12 till 20 September.
For more information please visit Downstage’s website at www.downstage.co.nz