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February 21, 2011 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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“Why would we want to see a play?”

“Why would we want to see a play?”

The enquiry originated from the upper reaches of my American Literature lecture. I turned in my seat to look at the girl two rows back, garbed in an ironic waistcoat, who had shot this question at her friend. I would have said something, but social etiquette forbade me. Really though, it’s a valid question. Why would you want to go to the theatre when you barely have enough spare time between Jersey Shore, your whimsical decision to learn the ukulele, and caring for your Sims?

Because theatre happens and then is gone—you can’t precisely re-enact that shit, man. That’s why. I saw a show last year in which an actor’s dress spontaneously sprang open at the exact same moment as a cat wandered onto the stage. It was absolute magic. You should have been there. But you weren’t. In order to keep you from missing out in the future, let me introduce you to the places where the theatre happens in Wellington. We’ll call them ‘theatres’ and give them human characteristics for fun.

BATS Theatre

is that mysterious, attractive stranger whose offbeat style and benevolent witticisms have you swooning. Situated at the far end of Courtenay Place, BATS has a history of showing an excellent variety of fresh, delicious shows each year—most of which you can see for less than the price of a movie ticket. Some of the best and worst shows I’ve ever beheld have been at BATS; the excitement lies in not knowing which extreme you are going to get.

Downstage Theatre

is your mum’s old school friend who appears well-dressed, intelligent and charismatic—you’re just not entirely sure what she does. Downstage has the opportunity to show edgier work which has proven itself in the past, and this seems to be what they have opted to do with their 2011 lineup. Mates and Lovers and Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants (both shows which I’d recommend to you) were well received at BATS and will be performing at the larger venue of Downstage in March and May respectively. You’ll be paying $25 as a student but seeing some choice theatre.


Circa Theatre

your revered old lecturer who is fond of the classics but appreciates a sprinkling of new work nonetheless. Situated down by the waterfront, Circa has an intriguing mixture of improv, musicals, Graham Greene and frivolity coming up this year. With their $25 for under 25s deal, you can sample it all and observe the antics of Wellington’s upper class while you’re at it.

Gryphon Theatre

relocated on Ghuznee Street, is showing A Doll’s House as you read this, and Nosferatu in November. It is the earnest librarian making eyes at the saucy accountant across the bus stop. Run as an amateur dramatic theatre (as opposed to the others which are all professional or semi-professional) these are people doing it for the love of it and, while there is a lot of heart and effort in their work, the word amateur does tend to flash neon across your mind. So, watching a show there is a bit risky as student tickets are overpriced at $20 and you’re not always assured of a high quality production, but it’s a cool little theatre so keep an eye out for the goings on there—especially when outside groups have hired it.

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  1. nimbus says:

    Other venues that humble students should add to their list: Studio 77, Toi Whakaari and WPAC. Some great stuff turns up at all three during for rock-bottom prices.

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