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Press Release on the Closure of Summer Shakespeare Wellington


Wellington Summer Shakespeare Trust Announces Closure after 40 Years of Celebrating the Bard

Wellington, 12th of June 2023

After four decades of enchanting audiences with captivating performances of Shakespearean plays, the Wellington Summer Shakespeare Trust has made the difficult decision to close its doors. This closure marks the end of an era for one of New Zealand's most beloved theatrical traditions.

Established in 1983, Wellington Summer Shakespeare captured the essence of early 80s Wellington student culture with its inaugural production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' featuring punk fairies and innovative interpretations. Originally produced by the Victoria University Drama Club, the Summer Shakespeare Trust took over production duties in the mid-2000s and has since continued to entertain and inspire audiences with outstanding performances.

Over the years, Wellington Summer Shakespeare has served as a platform for renowned national and international artists, both on and off the stage. It has nurtured and propelled the careers of up-and-coming creatives, solidifying its reputation as a breeding ground for talent. The trust has pushed the boundaries of performance venues, transforming various outdoor spaces into stages, including the University Quad, the Dell in the Botanic Gardens, the steps of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Gladstone Vineyard, and even car parks such as Te Whaea National Dance & Drama Centre in 1999 and Reading Cinema's car park in 2018.

In recent years, the Summer Shakespeare Trust assumed a greater governance role in organising each production following the closure of the Drama Club. The appointment of a permanent administrator aimed to ensure effective and direct continuity between each year's production while fostering ongoing relationships with the numerous organisations that have supported the trust throughout its existence.

Although the Summer Shakespeare has always been primarily driven by students and associated with the university, Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington has taken a more formal role as the principal sponsor in the past few years, solidifying its commitment to the event.

The trust board is very grateful for the university’s invaluable patronage over such a long period of time, and also for the long-term support of the Wellington City Council.  

The decision to close the Summer Shakespeare Trust was made after careful consideration of various factors. While the trust acknowledges the immense support it has received from the community, changing circumstances and shifting priorities have made it increasingly challenging to sustain the organisation.

The Wellington Summer Shakespeare Trust expresses its heartfelt gratitude to all the artists, volunteers, sponsors, partners, and audiences who have contributed to its success over the past four decades. Their unwavering support has allowed the trust to create magical theatrical experiences and enrich the cultural fabric of Wellington.

The trust remains immensely proud of its legacy and the significant impact it has had on the performing arts scene in New Zealand. It hopes that the memories and inspiration garnered from the Summer Shakespeare productions will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

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About Wellington Summer Shakespeare Trust:

Wellington Summer Shakespeare Trust is a New Zealand-based organisation that has been dedicated to producing high-quality Shakespearean performances for over 40 years. Known for its innovative interpretations and utilisation of unique performance spaces, the trust has been a nurturing ground for emerging artists and a cultural highlight for Wellington audiences.

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