- Downstage Theatre Company LtdDownstage Theatre Society
The collection comprises production files and business records of Downstage Theatre from its inception in 1964 to its closing in September 2013. The administrative papers, production files, playscripts, and publicity files comprise the bulk of the collection.
Source of title - Supplied
Relationship complexity - See also Harry Seresin Papers (MS-Group-1618) for a further collection of Downstage records. Production files of photographs for Downstage productions, 1976-1991 are held in the Photographic Archive (PAColl-7704). Further posters and programmes from Downstage are held in the Ephemera Collection. A stage model and costume designs by Terry Stringer are held in the New Zealand collection of the Museum of New Zealand.
Arrangement: The collection has been arranged into series and subseries organised by activity and function. As the collection was received (and described) in accruals over the years from 1977-2013, there is some overlapping content between series, particularly regarding production files, publicity, and scripts. Manuscript materials received in 2010 have been assigned reference numbers with the prefix, MS-Papers-9709, and 2013 items have the prefix, MS-Papers-11801.
The Downstage Theatre Society was founded on 15 May 1964, following discussions by actors Tim Elliott, Peter Bland and Martyn Sanderson on the need for a professional theatre in Wellington. The name 'Downstage' was adopted to emphasise the philosophy of having performances 'downstage', or close to the audience. The first production was held at Victoria University in August 1964, and later that year, Harry Seresin arranged for the lease of the Walkabout Coffee Bar on Courtenay Place, which became the Downstage Theatre Cafe. In 1969 the Theatre moved to the Star Boating Club premises and to the purpose-built Hannah Playhouse on the corner of Cambridge Terrace and Courtenay Place in 1973. The Hannah Playhouse Trust was incorporated in 1968 to raise funds for the Hannah Playhouse. From 1971, Downstage enacted a three-part administrative structure comprised of the Downstage Theatre Company Ltd to administer the theatre and restaurant; the Downstage Theatre Trust Board to maintain the Company's financial support, stability and prestige; and the Downstage Theatre Society to support the Company through its membership. In 1984, the theatre underwent a major restructure of its administration and Colin McColl became artistic director. Despite being the oldest professional theatre in New Zealand, Downstage suffered financial difficulties throughout its operation. In 2011, Downstage Theatre Company was forced to cancel part of the 2011 season and lay off staff. Two years later in September 2013, Downstage closed its doors and ceased operation after 49 years.
Quantity: 1489 folder(s). 25 volume(s). 15 Linear Metres.
Physical Description: Mss, typescripts and printed material
Transfers: Collection as a whole taken into Manuscripts. Transfers made from here. - To Photographic Archive - Photographs, transparencies and negatives from Downstage productions (PA-Group-00001) - To Ephemera Collection - Posters and flyers advertising Downstage productions (PR-13-0480, PR-15-0017) - To Drawings & Prints Collection - 14 Diazo print plans (DP-2013-093/Plans-2013-093-001/014) and one portrait sketch (A-465-012).
Processing information: Please note that as of February 2015, digital files and A/V materials are still being processed by Library staff. These items will be added to the finding aid when they are available.
- Public use may require written permission from the copyright holder
- Access restrictions
- Partly restricted material - The bulk of the collection is unrestricted, however, some folders in Series 4 - General administration are restricted.
- 1489 folder(s), 25 volume(s), 15 Linear Metres, Business correspondence, Clippings, Financial records, Manuscripts, Office files, Scripts (Documents), Mss, typescripts and printed material
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