Court Theatre stages first play

21 April 1971

Programme for The prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Alexander Turnbull Library, Eph-A-COURT-1971/1975)

It was opening night for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in Christchurch’s Provincial Council buildings. Based on Muriel Spark’s novel, the play was produced and directed by Yvette Bromley. She and Mervyn Thompson co-founded The Court, Christchurch’s first professional company, following the lead of Wellington’s Downstage and Auckland’s Mercury.

After performing in temporary venues, from 1972 until 1976 The Court was based in four separate locations, including the Orange Hall in Worcester St. For the next 35 years, its home was in the former Canterbury University engineering school buildings, which became part of the Christchurch Arts Centre. For much of this era Elric Hooper was artistic director, a role Ross Gumbley assumed in 2006.

The February 2011 earthquake made the Arts Centre unusable. The players once again trod temporary stages until The Court reopened in a former grain silo in Addington that December. ‘The Shed’ houses all departments of the company, but with only one auditorium is not a suitable long-term venue. The company hopes to be housed in a new performing arts precinct by 2018.

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