5 Feb 2017

Court's associate director moves north

7:23 am on 5 February 2017

After three years as the associate director of The Court Theatre Daniel Pengelly is saying farewell to his hometown and heading north to be creative director of Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North.

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The Court Theatre's production of Robin Hood will be the last with the theatre for associate director Daniel Pengelly. Photo: Supplied

It is a move the 30-year-old is excited about, but he says he will miss Christchurch and the sense of community he has there.

He said the role was the natural progression for him.

"I got excited about the job, I read the job description and I had experience in all the areas and I thought 'I'm going to go for it' and rightly or wrongly they hired me."

Pengelly holds a Masters in Theatre Arts (Directing) from Toi Whakaari and Victoria University of Wellington and leaving his role at The Court also means leaving his role as director of The Forge's latest outdoor theatre summer production, an annual event for many Cantabrians.

This year's show is Robin Hood, with a few comedy hits directed at Max Key, the son of former Prime Minister John Key, lampooned for his profile and fledgling DJ-ing career, with lots of jokes that only the adults will get and plenty of laughs to keep the kids entertained.

Last year's production of The Wizard of Oz attracted over 14,000 people over three weeks, and Pengelly was hoping to attract that audience again.

Since the 2011 earthquake, The Forge at The Court has been left homeless and the plan is to one day build a new theatre in the central city with two auditoria and bring The Court audiences back into the inner city.

Pengelly believes it is an exciting time for the arts community in Christchurch.

"I think we'll see a lot of young theatre-makers starting to making more shows for themselves, sort of self-funded and get small and maybe medium scale shows up and running that are soul driven."

Despite the disruption of the Canterbury earthquake, The Court Theatre has had the highest attendance levels ever in the last three years.

"Each year we've topped the year before, we've exceeded the attendance that we had pre-quake, so we're doing better than ever."

He said I think there's always been a desire in Christchurch for theatre.

"And post-quake there is even more a desire for entertainment and engaging performance. I don't think it ever lulled it was just harder to get there, especially in traffic with the roadworks."

Pengelly said the creativity among the people he worked with over the past several years has been one of the highlights.

"At the Court, the Summertimes programme, we started devising theatre, we get the actors in the room and we create all the characters and dialogue ourselves.

"And doing those shows for a family audience has been wonderful. We've been doing more family shows at The Forge and they've just turned up in droves for them. I'm seeeing this development of engaging a whole family to come to the theatre which is really beautiful seeing that grow."

Pengelly is not ruling out one day returning back to his home town but in the meantime he's "working my way up and down the country".

*Robin Hood by The Forge at The Court, Riccarton House Grounds, 1-19 February (see The Court website for times and details). No charge but a donation is asked at the end of the production.

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