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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 13. October 4, 1951

Practical Possibilities

Practical Possibilities

To return to Wellintgon, and the Old Clay Patch. Whatever view our university authorities—and ultimately the Government, which would have to find most of the money—may take of the value of improved drama training and equipment at Victoria College, there are certain positive gains already made, and others in sight. The present Little Theatre does exist and is very much in use—there la hardly a night in term, or a weekend, when it is not booked for rehearsal, performance or meeting by some student society. In vacation it is in demand with the W.E.A. and the Community Arts Service, and we may fairly claim that it has already made a significant return to the cultural life of the community for the very modest cost of its adaptation. Those lighted windows above the clay bank on Kelburn Parade—easier to find now than at the time of the College Jubilee—have become familiar to more and more Wellington citizens as a kind of friendly symbol of a university with something to give to the town around it. This is a small but desirable gain along a front that badly needs development.

The challenge of inadequate equipment. Here, surely, is the real test for those who use the place. The best productions the Little Theatre has seen—Pat Evison's Wedding, Chris Pottinger's Phoenix, Margaret Walker's Antigone—have represented so many collective triumphs over environment. Elaborate stage sets, with the delays that those impose on a cramped stage, have usually proved flops: there should be a moral for producers here. If the size of the hall calls for intimate theatre—well, isn't that the best choice of theatre for college societies, anyway?

I am aware of a certain casuistry in this argument; I am aware, too, that V.U.C. Drama Club, unlike the Training College, has preferred to take its major productions, at vast expense, to city theatres. But the case for as many plays as we can get, simply mounted, performed within the college, seems to me a very strong one.

And the equipment can be steadily improved, if we work on a sensible plan. This year the College Council has very generously offered a subsidy of 3 for 1 any sum not exceeding £50 contributed by those using the Little Theatre, for the purpose of improving stage fittings. The response from college clubs has hardly been overwhelming, but it appears that the £50 has been secured. So now £200 may he spent on a full set of stage curtains, and on the provision of workshop wardrobes.

Nothing will come of nothing. The more students are prepared to pot into the Little Theatre, the more intelligently they use it and the more carefully they cherish it, the more support they may hope to get for its general promotion.