One of the most inventive and creative arts organisations in the country. This energetic, alternative company deserves to be seen more widely.
Eve de Castro-Robinson, Composer
Christchurch is very lucky to have The Free Theatre – they contribute hugely to the culture here.
Sarah Aspinwall, Audience Member
The Free Theatre is a long-established and greatly-prized fixture within the cultural constellation of Christchurch. We have all grown up surrounded by its provocations and its productions. Many of my staff cut their creative teeth in the Free Theatre during their own studies and after.
Bruce Russell, Manager of Arts and Design Ara Institute
As a Theatre Educator myself, I was very impressed by both the process and the product I saw within the youth training programmes that my daughter participated in. What struck me most was the way the young people were given credit for creativity and intelligence and allowed to explore the form in a collaborative environment…. As a past National Assessment Moderator with NZQA, I can honestly say that the intentional development of collaboration and devising skills that I saw in the work of the Free Theatres education programme was of a very high standard. This is rare in my experience ….I also value the Free Theatre’s courage and initiative in engaging with community events and moving theatre from beyond the confines of a black box and 2 Acts.
Learne McArthur, B.A, Dip. Tchg, Dip Drama.
We are truly excited by Free Theatre’s latest proposed programme. We have been really impressed with the inclusive and collaborative approach that Free Theatre bring to their work.
Rachael Welfare, Life in Vacant Spaces
The sort of respectful, yet daring-do that the Free Theatre leaders bring to their collaborations, allow for the sort of unexpected touches of artistic sunshine we all long to bathe in, once it is understood such things are possible – even here in Aotearoa.
Professor Mark Menzies, UC School of Music
The Free Theatre Christchurch is a phenomenon. The show How Dare You at Space Academy is well worth a look. The puppetry is, as usual spectacular, the music entrancing and the material disturbingly dystopian - I expect nothing less. Pitched as 'a free jazz homage to Greta Thunberg an Extinction Rebellion' it takes no prisoners.
Duncan Webb Labour MP for Christchurch Central, facebook
As a former Chair of the Arts Centre of Christchurch Trust Board, I see Free Theatre’s operation in the former Boys’ High, later University of Canterbury Gymnasium, as being what the Art Centre is all about. As a heritage professional, I consider that it also showcases a fantastic reuse of one of this city’s significant heritage buildings.
Jenny May (ONZM)
I am impressed by the significant contribution Free Theatre has for a long while afforded Christchurch, but especially post earthquake when they have nimbly shifted gear to offer relevant theatrical experiences in spaces not generally designated for theatre. It is the shared creative impulse made manifest that makes continuing to live in Christchurch bearable.
Julia Morison, Artist
Free Theatre meets CNZ’s strategic aims by working with local and international artists to develop and present new work and innovative interpretations of already existing work. The company is generous in their approach, take risks with the work they present and grow the possibilities of what art is and can be.
Chris Archer, CreativeNZ
The Free Theatre hold a particularly important place in the arts landscape of Christchurch, frequently acting as the collaborative glue between a wide range of artists and arts organisations. They skillfully bring together a wide range of performers and artists to create what is often the most compelling and thought provoking work available on a regular basis to Christchurch audiences.
Gretchen La Roche, CE of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra
Regardless of architecture and urban planning and infrastructure, a city requires energy of thought to prosper, and I can think of no better example than Free Theatre to contribute voltage.
Gary Franklin, Board Member, Life in Vacant Spaces Charitable Trust
Here in Christchurch, now more than ever, we need what the Free Theatre offers: a way of making sense of who we are as a community and who we might become when we can no longer count on the (actual or symbolic) ground beneath our feet.
Associate Professor Sharon Mazer, Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
One feels the creative atmosphere, which immediately arouses one’s desire to be a part of it. I had a chance to be present at some of the rehearsals and was each time taken anew by the enthusiasm for the text and interest in the plays. How director and actors worked together reminded me of my own collaboration with Johann Kresnik at the Berlin Volksbühne and Schauspielhaus Hamburg. After a long time at my writing desk or director’s chair, I have been inspired again to write specifically for director and actors.
Werner Fritsch, playwright, director, filmmaker
To achieve such a high standard of production working with new and complex material, the Free Theatre workshops new scripts with an intensity that is unusual in New Zealand. The results are exciting and unique.
Bettina Senff, Director, Goethe-Institut New Zealand
For over a quarter of a century Free Theatre has refined cultural horizons and shaped Christchurch's perceptions of contemporary theatre.
Chris Moore, Arts Editor, The Press
Free Theatre holds a unique place in the arts culture that is an integral part of the best that Christchurch and New Zealand has to offer in terms of theatre experiences. They create annual workshops and performances that are also used to inform the study of many theatre and film students based in the South Island. They have international connections with the performance world and use this to their advantage.
Te Rita Papesch, Chair, Kanohi Kitea Trust
Peter Falkenberg has established a wide reputation in New Zealand for an uncompromising dramatic vision and an acute awareness of the fragility of our national identity. He comes from a theatrical tradition that is not afraid to use the stage for philosophical inquiry. This grounding of the performance project in the interstices of fracture, ambiguity and uncertainty has been one of the defining gestures of his work... I was impressed by Falkenberg's daring when he brought a production of Heiner Mueller's MedeaMaterial to Wellington some time ago.
I had recently returned from a decade of theatrical work in New York and in Europe. This production indicated that there was a dialogue between the high cultural centres and New Zealand. I left the performance with both exultation and relief. It seemed that in this country there could be work done that was serious, experimental and dangerous. This year I had the opportunity to see Falkenberg's new work Crusoe at the New Zealand Theatre Festival in Hamilton. I was impressed by the vastness of the undertaking, the willingness to go to those limits where the new and the unexpected can be found... I was left exhausted, physically jangled and in a state of nervous apprehension by this production. While Crusoe achieved the traditional demand of catharsis, the after-shocks of going through the experience and emerging reconnected with those around me was one of my most satisfying nights at the theatre.
Alan Brunton, Red Mole
There is only one thing left to say, really, and that is: if you ever get the chance to see Free Theatre, grab it without hesitation. They produce theatre the way it should be and you will not be disappointed.
Neal Barber, The Critic
Christchurch is well served by this young and innovative theatre company which presents challenges to its audiences through the material and manner in which it is presented. We need these kinds of boundary-breaking groups to keep the local arts culture stimulated and forward-thinking.
Brendon Burns, Former Member of Parliament, Christchurch Central Electorate
I'm writing in support of the theatre troupe, Free Theatre Christchurch. I became familiar with their exquisite work during my fellowship stay at the Canterbury University in New Zealand. In particular their FAUST CHROMA made a lasting impact on me since the entire team has achieved in this production a rare level of expressive poetry on stage. In my opinion their magnificent work should be seen worldwide - such an innovative and, at the same time, professional theatrical work is a rare and remarkable feat.
Lech Majewski, Director/Producer. www.lechmajewski.com
No other theatre company in Christchurch, and quite possibly New Zealand, has so consistently shown the intellectual vigour and creative daring of this group. Productions are always topical, original and ingenious, provocative and daringly different from those delivered by the mainstream companies and groups in Christchurch and in the wider New Zealand theatre context. This originality and creativity applies alike to stage design and construction, direction, scripting, and acting, which itself is invariably very much about interacting with the audience, whether in the theatre or the street or the shopping mall.
Ross and Lorraine Gray, long-time patrons of Free Theatre Christchurch.
The Free Theatre is a hugely important company with a long and impressive history. In many respects it is unique in New Zealand. While it has had a particular importance for Christchurch, its contribution to innovative drama is of national significance. Many talented people have passed through its productions, and they have carried its influence to other parts of the country. With this in mind I recently flew down to Wellington to see their latest production Distraction Camp which had a season at Bats Theatre in September (2010). I was again impressed by the professionalism and innovation of this production. That Free Theatre has managed to exist for so long, and continues to be cutting-edge in its spirit of experimentation, is a credit to the work of Peter Falkenberg, the originator of the company, and to the loyal teams of actors he has inspired.
Shirley Horrocks, Film Director, Point of View Productions
The Free Theatre under Peter's creative leadership has developed and consolidated into an internationally recognized group of theatre practitioners and researchers who are consistently at the forefront of the discipline's development. The rigorous testing out of ideas, of stretching the borders of the genre, a strong commitment to engaging the audience's mind and senses make the Free Theatre an important player in the international landscape of independent theatre companies.
Prof. Dr. Thea Brejzek Program Director, Doctorate Program Scenography, Zurich University of the Arts
The Free Theatre acted, and probably still does, as a laboratory for some of the most creative minds in New Zealand with artistic consequences far beyond the theatre and time of production. The Free Theatre has continued to engage in a dialogue, at an international level, between space, narrative and body that has allowed local students to overcome traditional barriers of intellectual isolation preparing graduates for careers both in New Zealand and on the world stage. This has been made possible by the sacrifice and commitment of its founders and supporters who over the last 25 years have not only delivered an excellent contemporary theatre to Christchurch but have influenced more than one generation of New Zealand artists, filmmakers and thinkers.
Lawrence Wallen, Head of School, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney