Porirua Little Theater actor wants the council to donate land for new premises

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Tanisha Wardle, a member of the Porirua Little Theater, wants the Porirua City Council to donate a piece of land to the theater company so they can build a purpose-built theater.

Ross Giblin

Tanisha Wardle, a member of the Porirua Little Theater, wants the Porirua City Council to donate a piece of land to the theater company so they can build a purpose-built theater.

A longtime member of the Porirua Little Theater worries about the company’s future without a real home as the current performance space is a dog show camp.

The theater has been bouncing around in makeshift performance rooms since its 1950 home, the US Marines Hall in TÄ«tahi Bay, closed in 2012 after it was classified as structurally unsafe. The building was declared an earthquake risk the following year.

The theater actress Tanisha Wardle, who is to be demolished in a few months, calls on the Porirua city council to give him a piece of land so that he can build a new home.

Chris Gordon plays Joseph in the Porirua Little Theater production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, staged by Elsdon in 2018 at the Black Hawk <a class=Exhibition Center. (File photo)” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

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Chris Gordon plays Joseph in the Porirua Little Theater production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, staged by Elsdon in 2018 at the Black Hawk Exhibition Center. (File photo)

“We only want a piece of land. We can build the theater ourselves, but a community hall won’t work. We had a stand-alone theater designed exclusively for theater. Anyone in the arts could use it, ”she said.

CONTINUE READING:
* Planned landscape park for the site of the Marines Hall in TÄ«tahi Bay, which is still to be vacated
* Approval for the demolition of the historic World War II Marines Hall
* Porirua City Council pauses demolition plans for US Marines Hall, potential for memorial
* Army report reveals extensive damage to the controversial US Marines Hall in Porirua
* The hall is over: Porirua’s 75 year old Titahi Bay Marines Hall is about to be demolished
* Five years empty, the future of Porirua’s Marines Hall could be decided in October
* Titahi Bay Marines Hall being demolished after theater troupe runs out

“There’s nothing in Porirua that houses anything like this,” said Wardle, who accused the council of ignoring the arts.

From left Rita Anderson, Eva Wilton and Jet Wilton who play the Ishmaelites, the Sheep and an Unfortunate Goat in the Porirua Little Theater's 2018 production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.  (File photo)

Delivered

From left Rita Anderson, Eva Wilton and Jet Wilton who play the Ishmaelites, the Sheep and an Unfortunate Goat in the Porirua Little Theater 2018 production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. (File photo)

Theater President John Mahan backed Wardle’s claim for land, saying there weren’t enough common spaces in which to put shows without having to pass on “thousands of dollars” in rental fees to theater audiences.

“I guess we feel a little tough because the people who originally started the theater and over the years we’ve been with it – that’s around 70 – have been deeply involved in building Porirua.

“The generation before me helped build the city, but the city didn’t really give back much,” Mahan said.

Actress Tanisha Wardle claims Porirua city council is ignoring the arts.

Ross Giblin / stuff

Actress Tanisha Wardle claims Porirua city council is ignoring the arts.

Although the theater performed at the Black Hawk Exhibition Center in Elsdon, it is unsuitable for its purpose, Wardle said.

“It is getting harder and harder to keep our membership as we not only have to build a kit for each show, but we also have to create an auditorium, revive the lighting system and try to capture natural light in a dog show warehouse.

“Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate our use of this space, but we’ve moved from our own theater with thousands of members to a warehouse with only a handful of members,” said Wardle.

The sign in the former home of the Porirua Little Theater in the US Marines Hall in TÄtahi Bay, which is destined for the wrecking ball this year.  (File photo)

Robert Kitchin / stuff

The sign in the former home of the Porirua Little Theater in the US Marines Hall in TÄtahi Bay, which is destined for the wrecking ball this year. (File photo)

Steve Perdia, general manager of urban growth and partnerships for the council, said the use of public land for community or commercial activities is controlled by the Reserves Act or Public Works Act.

“If the theater has a proposal we would welcome it when it comes to the council to discuss it to determine its feasibility.

“The council has started to talk to some community groups and clubs about the possibility of working together on a co-location solution instead of individual groups needing their own facilities,” said Perdia.

Reuben Friend, director of Pataka Art + Museum, disagrees that Porirua city council

KEVIN STENT / stuff

Reuben Friend, director of Pataka Art + Museum, disagrees that Porirua city council “ignores the arts”. (File photo)

The installment payers were asked for a proposal for a cultural arts center during the recent consultation on the long-term plan, but there was “clear feedback” that infrastructure should be the focus of the council, Perdia said.

The council has “continued strong commitment to the arts through Pātaka,” he added.

Pātaka Art + Museum’s director, Reuben Friend, denied allegations that the council ignored the arts, citing numerous partnerships with performance groups.

Upcoming projects include the Performance Arcade and the New Zealand Festival of the Arts in February 2022 and the Te Ata Festival next March.

The Marines Hall was built as a recreation hall by U.S. Marines stationed in the area in 1942 and was later used as the community hall, cinema, and home of the Porirua Little Theater since 1951.

Community consultation on what to replace the building after the demolition should begin this week, including a survey and public meetings, said city council park manager Mark Hammond.

A memorial park was among the candidates, with the council hiring an architect to bring the park proposal to life.

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