Outrage and tears followed news of the sudden closure of Dunedin's Fortune Theatre last week.
The theatre was founded in 1974 and home to over 400 productions. Its closure leaves 11 staff without work and Dunedin without a professional theatre.
The news came as a shock to the whole New Zealand theatre community, says Otago University theatre studies professor Lisa Warrington, who directed numerous productions at the Fortune.
She says she was surprised the board of trustees hadn't consulted the wider theatre community before taking this action.
The new collaborative arts space at the former music venue Sammy's has been proposed as the site of a new theatre, but that space isn't fit for purpose so getting it ready would take a while, Lisa says.
Local actor and theatre critic Terry MacTavish is more hopeful about a new purpose-built theatre venue in Dunedin, and says some directors considered the Fortune a 'white elephant'.
"It's not altogether suited to a theatre. There's rising damp, there's various health and safety problems with it."
Despite that, the gap left by the Fortune's closure is "horrifying", she says.
"It's not just the actors and directors and writers, we've got the technicians, as well, these wonderful people who've honed their skills in the Fortune and then passed them on to their students. We have the loss of all of them in the interim before we can get something custom-made up and running.
"It's not that people don't want theatre. We need it, we love it, we absolutely thrive on it."
Related: Fortune Theatre's Board of Trustees Chair Haley van Leeuwen talks about the closure on Jesse Mulligan 1-4