September 13, 2011


“A huge boost for the Court Theatre rebuild”.

That’s how the theatre’s Artistic Director Ross Gumbley has described confirmation that one of the world’s most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith, has accepted the role of Patron of The Court fundraising appeal.

An intensive campaign is underway to raise the $4.6 million urgently needed to construct the new Court Theatre in Addington, known as “The Shed” and to have it open before the end of the year.

Gumbley says it’s an honour to have the support of the award winning actress, who has been concerned about Christchurch after the recent earthquakes.

“On the telephone over the last few weeks, she has been asking how the city is and how everyone is coping, expressing real concern and offering to help in any way she can,” he says.

Chief Executive of The Court Theatre, Philip Aldridge, who trained as an actor in the UK, approached Dame Maggie to take on the role. Before the February earthquake, plans were being developed with Miss Smith for an international arts leadership programme to be based in Christchurch, however after February they agreed that the pressing needs of re-opening The Court must now take precedence.

In another piece of serendipity, Dame Maggie, who is currently enjoying wide success in her roles on televisionand the Harry Potter films, won her first Academy Award for her part in the film adaptation of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which was also The Court’s début stage production in 1971.

The announcement of a new patron for The Court’s fundraising drive being spearheaded by Barbara Stewart, follows news in mid August that tenor Placido Domingo will perform a fundraising concert in Christchurch on October 6th, to benefit the CSO and The Court Theatre.    

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