by Insiders Dunedin

University of Otago Theatre Studies students (L-R) Ria Jones, Alayne Dick, Bronwyn Wallace and Leah Carrell take High Tea to celebrate the launch of the 2013 Lunch Time Theatre Programme. 

One of the great things about living in a University City is the constant and consistent arrival of creative minds looking to expand. There is something refreshing for me in seeing students of a particular practical persuasion have the scope and strength of their work broadened and focused by the rigors of study. A more cynical fellow could scoff at the obvious, and cyclic, iterations of these relationships, but personally I get nostalgic for the time I first learned what post-modern stage productions could look like, or the texts of feminist / post-colonial revisionism.

Even if you don’t have the time, money or inclination to embark on this academic adventure yourself, you do have the opportunity to embrace the output it offers you. During each University Semester, the Theatre Studies Department does that every Thursday & Friday via the Lunchtime Theatre Programme at Allen Hall Theatre. For students, there’s the chance to put their lectures in to practice, experimenting with scripts, lighting design, directing and acting techniques. For audiences, it’s an opportunity to peer into the future of New Zealand’s performing arts scene, and given that the works are short (all less than an hour) and entry costs are low ($5 or $3 for students), the gamble you’re taking is low.

This semester’s programme alone offers improvised comedy, choreography on the theme of Pakeha identity, a love affair with Robert LePage, and an interrogation on the theme of dust, from a pool of ten weekly productions. Some of them will be brilliant and some will be awful. As a performer, I have been in productions at both ends of that spectrum. As a former Theatre Editor for Critic – Te Arohi, attending every show for a year, I can assure you that most are somewhere in between. The worst-case scenario is losing a fiver and your lunch break. The best-case scenario is having your worldview shifted slightly by the creative energy of the next generation of local artists. I’m not much of a gambling man, but I like those odds. 

Lunch Time Theatre is every Thursday and Friday at 1pm during teaching time each semester. Productions take place at Allen Hall Theatre. For performance programmes email

Post Submitted by Aaron Hawkins


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