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The Story of Te Puke Repertory Society

Te Puke Repertory has been a very active and successful theatre group in Te Puke since 1952. From initial efforts by Olive Copestake, Helen Jones and Jess Fenwick, the society was formed and it continues to entertain us with excellent performances. The first was a play reading of `Quiet Weekend` in St John’s Church Hall.

Since then there have been many fine productions such as Lionel Litt directed ` I Have Five Daughters` based on the novel Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Maher `s touching drama `Taking Leave` about an Alzheimer’s patient. These are just two examples in a history of productions from farces and dramas to musical revues and dance performances.
In the lighter vein, we have seen melodramas such as “Only an Orphan Girl” directed by Spence Fry in 1964 and pantomimes like Colin Cooper`s `Aladdin`. Some of the very best productions were directed by our much-loved founder and local arts patron Jess Fenwick QSM. One was a fantastic production of `The Importance of Being Earnest` with the talented Margaret Copeland-Smith as Lady Bracknell and another `Sabrina Fair` with Rufus Wallingford, Chris McFadden, Gwynedd Jones and Patricia McBeth.

New Zealand plays have been featured in recent years. Plays like Allan Smith’s  production of `Weed`, `Joyful and Triumphant directed by Michael Jones or `Wednesday to Come` by Dianne Leach. There was also the rugby comedy: `Pass it On` and `The Learners Stand`, both directed by Bridget Down. 2019 saw Michelle Cliff produce the Barry Crump adaptation  `Hang on a Minute Mate’.  These plays and many others have been strongly supported by our Te Puke community and further  afield.

For many years meetings and rehearsals were conducted in private homes awaiting opening night at the Memorial Hall or the High School Hall. There was a great rush to build a set just a day or two before the first performance. In 1968, High School Principal and enthusiastic member, Lionel Litt organised the relocation of the original Te Puke High School building to Litt Park. It has served as our theatre ever since. During the 90`s, following a fire in the adjacent sports changing rooms, the school generously allowed Repertory to include the area as a foyer to provide better facilities for patrons. We now have a charming, intimate theatre that suits Te Puke supporters as well as performers.

Major productions have not been our only way to express our talent. `The Triumphant` and 'Sordid Story' both directed by Lois Wort won critical acclaim at the national finals of the NZTF One Act Play Festivals. Our own Simply Short Play Festivals develop creative writers and performers. Stars on Stage celebrates our youth.  At all times, Te Puke Repertory has set high standards of production. These standards have been enhanced, over the years, by regular adjudication and workshops with top facilitators such as the well-known Miranda Harcourt. 

Many people have contributed to our success. Te Puke has been fortunate to have seen many fine actors, some who have progressed to professional careers. Others are talented locals who have found an outlet for their creativity and enjoyment. We are a vital part of the Te Puke community. We have had fun. We have told stories that reflect, inform and amuse our town.

Long may Te Puke Repertory Society continue.

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Michelle Cliff                Chair 

Dick Brown                  Vice Chair

Bernard Holmes          Vice Chair & Health Safety

Colleen Pye                 Treasurer

Sjaan Morrow              Secretary

Michael Jones             Life Member & Patron

Lorna Cooper       

Owen Force

Elizabeth Rose

Gordon Cliff


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