One year ago it was confirmed by esteemed New Zealand Playwright, Roger Hall, that New Zealand Theatre Month would be acknowledged for the first time in September of 2018. The aim of New Zealand Theatre Month is to ‘celebrate and elevate’ New Zealand theatre and make New Zealanders aware of and appreciate the range and diversity of New Zealand works.
During September, professional theatres, community theatre groups, and tertiary institutions will be mounting a range of New Zealand inspired productions. Schools too are taking part in the celebrations.
Some members of the John McGlashan College Arts Committee felt it was important to commemorate the inaugural New Zealand Theatre Month. We decided that the most enjoyable and effective way of doing this would be to create a show, where Dunedin secondary schools will mount short displays from a New Zealand play, or Aotearoa inspired devised work. NZ Theatre Month is all about connection, which is why we are celebrating cooperation over competition and focusing on Dunedin secondary school drama departments working collaboratively to celebrate New Zealand Theatre Month.
September will also include ‘Mental Health Awareness week’. We decided it would be appropriate to make our event, entitled Whakahari Whakaari (Celebrate Drama), a fundraiser for the newly opened Dunedin Hope Centre. The Hope Centre is the headquarters for the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust. The Trust was formed due to the lack of support available to families bereaved by suicide or those people who are suicidal. The Hope Centre provide much-needed support and give a voice for the thousands of families devastated by suicide. We feel that theatre brings hope, and this is a small way we can give back to an important and much-needed community initiative.
Whakahari Whakaari is to be held on Tuesday the 18th of September, at Otago Boys’ High School Auditorium. They have kindly allowed us to use their auditorium free of charge, which allows for more money to go to the Hope Centre. Entry is by koha (pay what you can) and all money collected on the door that night will go directly to the Hope Centre.
This initiative is also predominantly ‘student-led’, and we've secured the support of Dunedin City Council and its UNESCO City of Literature programme. They are supplying us with some free goodies for the NZ Theatre Quiz (which will run in between each school item), and we will also have a special guest speaker, representing the Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature.
This will be a wonderful night of honouring New Zealand theatre and local stories - put the date into your calendar now and come and celebrate with us!
Click here for more information on Whakahari Whakaari, on the official NZ Theatre Month website.