From the very first days of settlement, amateur actors and actresses have been a feature of New Zealand society. In Auckland, Wellington and Nelson, small companies of players sometimes performed to assist charities such as the ‘Widow and Orphans' Fund’ or the ‘Suffering British Subjects in India’. During the mid 1880s, when British regiments were stationed here, garrison theatres were built and soldier-actors staged many plays.
The 20 years between the world wars saw the emergence of amateur theatre as it is still produced today. Repertory societies appeared in most of the country’s towns and cities. While not all of these societies are still operating, it’s worth checking out the entertainment pages of any local newspaper for details about current productions.
A number of professional theatre companies have emerged in recent years, particularly in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. Their productions range from children’s pantomimes through to the bravest experimental works.