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The Cat comes back for PumpHouse performances

Flagstaff Team

Back in business… Tim Bray and company business development manager Gail Rotherham.
Photo: Ines Domanovic.

The Tim Bray Theatre Company was in the middle of rehearsals when the country went into its first Covid-19 lockdown. The show was cancelled, and funding cut.

After nearly three decades of creating theatre based on New Zealand literature, the company had to launch a crisis appeal for support.

Six months later, a remarkable $100,000 has been donated by the community to keep the theatre alive.

It also received a $5000 grant from the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board.

“It was a hard experience,” says company director Tim Bray. “We learnt a lot when funding dried up, but we have been amazed by the support from the community, who didn’t want to see us fall over.”

During the school holidays, the company will stage Greedy Cat, based on Joy Cowley’s much-loved illustrated children’s book, at the PumpHouse Theatre.

Bray says the theatre, which usually seats 192, will accommodate only 70 with social distancing restrictions.

The four actors in Greedy Cat have come together again to rehearse, having forgotten their lines since the first time around.

“Being back in rehearsals – despite the restrictions – for a funny, energetic and charming show has lifted all of our spirits,” says Bray.

The company had invested money into developing the production, but when lockdown hit, presale tickets across five venues around Auckland had to be refunded. They company found itself in a “massive financial hole”.

Without guaranteed multi-year funding, the biggest challenge was pulling together the money needed to continue. “It was amazing to hear why people were donating and what our theatre meant to them and their children and grandchildren,” Bray says.

Bray says Covid-19 had made school groups wary about being on buses to go to watch plays, but the company had kept children involved by providing video footage of shows.

“We know people are still fearful of going out but we think this show is just the kind of positive energy that people really need during this time.”

Advance sales have begun for Greedy Cat, which will also be seen by 1200 children at- tending under the “Gift a Seat” programme, which provides donated or funded tickets to children from low-decile schools, Kelston Deaf Education Centre, the Blind and Low

Vision Education Network and through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Greedy Cat season will include sign-language-interpreted performances, audio-described performances, touch tours, and a sensory relaxed performance. It runs from 26 September to 10 October, at 10.30am and 1pm.

This article originally appeared in the 18 September 2020 edition of the Rangitoto Observer.

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