Release: Christchurch Arts Centre
Theatre company Two Productions will take up residency at the Arts Centre, bringing a unique style of performance and education to the site.
Run by theatre-makers Tom Eason and Holly Chappell-Eason, Two Productions is moving into the Common Room building, located near the North Quad. The company secured the space with help from Christchurch City Council’s Creative Industries Support Fund.
“We know that Christchurch has the potential to become a city renowned for theatre,” says Holly. “We want to bring everything we’ve learned and use it to create our own theatre culture for young theatre makers and audiences.”
Arts Centre Chief Executive André Lovatt is delighted with the outcome. “Two Productions has an incredible energy and commitment to performance – something that perfectly aligns with the Arts Centre’s vision for fostering arts, education and the creative industries here in the heart of the city.”
Two Productions will focus on developing and showcasing original works using theatre-makers from across the country. It will also run education programmes and workshops, with the intent of nurturing young actors and theatre-makers in Christchurch.
Its first major public show will be an interpretation of Moby Dick.
Tom and Holly describe their style as “accessible anarchy”, with each performance encouraging social change. “We want to make people think, challenge their perceptions about issues – but always in a fun and engaging way,” Tom says.
Bringing Two Productions back to Christchurch was a “no-brainer” for the couple. “This is the city we both grew up in, and where we first fell in love with theatre,” Holly says. “To get the opportunity to take a space in the Arts Centre is just incredible. It’s beginning to reclaim its place as an arts hub, so it’s the perfect place for us.”
The building being leased by Two Productions is the original Common Room (1916) used by Canterbury College’s male students – a building that celebrates its centenary this year. Following the opening of the Student Union building (1929), the Common Room was used for other purposes, including the offices of student magazine Canta in the 1930s.
Tom and Holly met 11 years ago at Original Scripts Theatre School, a Christchurch-based theatre training school co-owned by Holly’s mother. After both completing degrees at Canterbury University, they headed to Toi Whakaari, the country’s premier drama school. They both graduated in 2012 – Tom with a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Acting) and Holly with a Master’s Degree in Directing.
The couple have produced several shows in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, including The Powerful Event, an interactive theatre experience which was part of Christchurch’s ‘Life in Vacant Spaces’ project. They have also spent months in Berlin, working closely with a German theatre company.