Art & creativity  |  4 Nov 2021

The site in central Christchurch where The Court Theatre’s new home is going to be built has been blessed.

The blessing was led by a mana whenua representative and marks another milestone in the project to bring The Court Theatre back into the heart of Christchurch.

“In the 10 years since the earthquakes The Court Theatre has operated out of ‘The Shed’ in Addington, but its dream has always been to have a world class fit-for-purpose theatre centre in the central city,’’ says Christchurch City Council Principal Advisor Citizens and Community Brent Smith.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with The Court Theatre to make that dream a reality and we are very much looking forward to having them in the Performing Arts Precinct.

“The Court Theatre has been an institution in Christchurch since 1971; their shows attract about 150,000 people a year so they are going to bring a lot of people and vitality to the area,’’ Mr Smith says.

The corner of Colombo and Gloucester streets has been selected as the site for The Court Theatre’s new home, with ground works due to start this month and construction due to start on the three-storey theatre centre in mid 2022.

The Court Theatre’s new building should be ready to open to the public in 2024.

Pre-eminent London-based architects Haworth Tompkins have worked with New Zealand’s Athfield Architects and a wider consultant team on the designs for the building. It will have a 360-seat main playhouse auditorium; a 130-seat studio theatre, where children’s and family shows can be held; and front-of-house facilities.

All aspects of a working theatre, including set-building, costume-making and rehearsals, will be based on site, with plans to make these usually back-stage activities more visible to the public.

“The new space will be made for everybody; it will be an open invitation to anyone who wants to intimately share the diverse programme of The Court Theatre's work. We will return city audiences to dedicated theatre spaces purpose-built to bring the viewer closer to our art,” says Barbara George, Chief Executive of The Court Theatre.

“The theatre will welcome a diverse community of creatives, actors, audience members and students who reflect the many faces of our city. It will bring hustle and bustle to the precinct and re-energise the city seven days a week with shows, rehearsals, and spaces available for use every day. It is an investment in the city, theatre, and the wellbeing of our community.

“We have committed to raising $10 million to ensure we build a world-class customer-friendly theatre centre and can fit it out for our needs. And yes, we are taking our pizza oven with us!”