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Free Theatre: The 37 Year Experiment

This new documentary by noted director Shirley Horrocks - tells the inside story of a unique theatre group.

Free Theatre has been described as the most colourful and controversial theatre company in New Zealand a hidden treasure, which has been creating extraordinary theatre events for 37 years.

The members of the Free Theatre group in Christchurch have their own vision of how to enlarge the boundaries of live performance. Their aim is always to amaze the audience and to take them somewhere new. They make rich use of all the arts, especially music. The irony is that they are better known in other parts of the world than in New Zealand.

The group has survived censure, court cases, money problems, and earthquakes wrecking their theatre. Such pressures have only made them more resourceful and more determined to realise their vision.

Shirley has specialised in profiling creative people who deserve to be better-known, and Free Theatre is one of her most dramatic discoveries. She has drawn upon the company's extensive archive and the filming she has done over six years. Free Theatre will be premiered in July/August in the 2017 New Zealand International Film Festival.

"37 years on Free Theatre has proven as definitive and resilient a Christchurch institution as the one it set out to oppose – and richly deserving of this salute from New Zealand’s most dedicated and attentive documentarian of art and artists." NZIFF Programme

76 minutes

Made by Point of View Productions with the assistance of Creative NZ (Quick Response Grant), and the NZ Film Commission (Feature Film Finishing Grant)


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