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Canterbury Repertory Theatre Restoration

Canterbury Repertory Theatre heritage theatre in Kilmore Street looks sad at first glance with crumbling facade and the green room open to the wind and rain. But behind the scenes there is a different story.
The Canterbury Repertory Theatre before the earthquake. It is due for restoration and will be renamed the Charles Luney Repertory Theatre.
The Canterbury Repertory Theatre is currently closed due to structural damage. In the wake o


The Canterbury Repertory Theatre is closed due to structural damage.

The Big Idea spoke to the Theatre today who said there was good news for the theatre despite reports to the contrary, and images of the damage (pictured before and after the quake).

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On Wednesday September 8 the earthquake damage at the Canterbury Repertory Theatre was evaluated by Gavin Willis (Willis & Associates Architects), Dick Sullivan (Consulting Structural Engineer) and Peter Jamieson (Contact Construction) with Representatives for the Canterbury Repertory Theatre Committee; Rozena Hallum (Artistic Director) and Blair Kershaw (Company Treasurer).

With the exception of the top of the façade, they were astounded that there was only minimal damage to the rest of the theatre. Beneath the rubble the lower façade is intact with not even a broken window. Further into the theatre everything was undisturbed; the auditorium, stage area, fly tower and dressing rooms intact. The historic proscenium undamaged.

Over the coming days, contractors will take steps to secure the theatre, carefully remove the rubble, saving any historical mouldings that might be preserved, and saving as much of the remaining façade as possible. At this point the Society will be able to continue rehearsing its current show Noises Off later next week, however Repertory will need to find an alternative location to stage the production as it is believed the front entrance will still be unusable.

In the wake of the quake it seems the Repertory Society's Heritage Restoration plans might be fast-streamed. Due to start in April 2011, the renovation programme will restore much of the heritage character lost of 80 years of continuing use, while upgrading the facilities. We enhance the historic atmosphere and visuals of the foyer and auditorium, but behind the scenes modernize the plumbing, wiring and drains etc.

There will be a new roof, stage, rebuilt flytower, and earthquake strengthening of the whole building (even though most of it has come through the present upheaval with flying colours). Many of the artistic and decorative features will be restored by architect Gavin Willis whose father created the original design and look of the theatre.

The new theatre will become a memorial theatre renamed the Charles Luney Repertory Theatre to recognise the original builder (his first major work in 1928 when he was only 22) and the generous donation his daughters have given us in fond memory of their father.

Follow updates here.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

9 Sep 2010

The Big Idea Editor