Free Theatre Christchurch (company) est. 1979 is New Zealand’s longest running producer of avant-garde theatre. This multi award-winning company serves as a creative laboratory where artists across disciplines collaborate to transform spaces, nurture aspiring performers and create innovative, high quality new experiences for their audience. The company is described by composer Eve de Castro-Robinson as “one of the most inventive and creative arts organisations in the country. This energetic, alternative company deserves to be seen more widely”. Free Theatre has most recently produced A Winter’s Tale, the opening event for the 2019 Christchurch Arts Festival, How Dare You! (2019) a free jazz homage to Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion and A Summer Night’s Dream (2020), a collaboration with the local Waltham and artistic community. Free Theatre’s 40 year history was documented by Shirley Horrocks in her 2017 NZIFF film Free Theatre: the 37 Year Experiment.
Stuart Lloyd-Harris (researcher, sculptor, photographer and videographer)
Stuart is a Christchurch based photographer, filmmaker and theatre director. After graduating with BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Sheffield Hallam University specialising in Film and Photography, he worked as Technical Manager for the largest independent cinema and managed arts workspace in Europe, delivering international film festivals and live events, later moving further north to work for BALTIC a large art gallery and event centre. This included filming and editing broadcast videos, DVD production, digital audio production in one of BALTIC’s recording studios and technical performance design for live art or dance productions, installing art works, producing video and audio for artists and lighting shows for a diverse range of performers from Franco B. to Amy Winehouse. Alongside his own projects Stuart collaborates with a variety of artists and companies, most recently working with choreographer Julia Harvie on a dance-theatre work Hive. He has been Head Designer for Free Theatre since 2014, works including the company’s Ubu Nights (2014-19), Kafka's Amerika (2014), Frankenstein (2016), The Black Rider (2017) and Alice (2018).
Peter Falkenberg (researcher and director)
Peter is the founder and artistic director of Free Theatre Christchurch and has directed many of the company’s projects over its 40-year history. He trained as a director at Munich Kammerspiele and later founded the Theatre & Film Studies Department at the University of Canterbury. Filmmaker Shirley Horrocks comments: “That Free Theatre has managed to exist for so long, and continues to be cutting-edge in its spirit of experimentation, is a credit to the work of Peter Falkenberg, the originator of the company, and to the loyal teams of actors he has inspired." Works over the past decade include his direction of The Soldier’s Tale (2013) for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the critically acclaimed Kafka’s Amerika (2014), Footprints/Tapuwae (2015), The Mauricio Kagel Project (2015) as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival, a collaboration with composer Gao Ping and conductor Hamish McKeich, The Black Rider (2017), A Winter’s Tale (2019) and How Dare You! (2019). His film Remake (2009) is loosely based on the Parker-Hulme incident.
Marian McCurdy (researcher and project producer)
Marian has been a member of Free Theatre Christchurch since 2002 as both an actor and producer and currently manages the company. She has been involved in theatre and film projects including Samson Airline (2002), Ella & Susn (2004), Fantasia (2005 and 2006), Diana Down Under (2007), Remake (2009), Emmy & Nico (2008), Faust Chroma (2008), The Earthquake in Chile (2010), I Sing the Body Electric (2012), Kafka’s Amerika (2014), Footprints/Tapuwae (2015), The Mauricio Kagel Project (2015), Frankenstein (2016), The Black Rider (2017), Alice (2018) and How Dare You! (2019). She produced Hereafter (2012) for a performance season in The Woolston Tannery and an award-winning tour to Dunedin. Marian also has a PhD in Theatre and Film Studies and her book Acting and its Refusal: The Devil Makes Believe was published with Intellect Books in 2017.
Demarnia Lloyd (musician and composer)
Demarnia is a New Zealand musician, known for her work with the group Cloudboy. Lloyd was the inaugural artist in residence at Smith's Grainstore, Oamaru (2001). As well as Cloudboy she was singer in ska-skate band Munky Kramp and with the revolutionary Dunedin electro-pop band Mink. She also works as a solo artist. Her albums include: Set Upon a Curve (2002), Down the End of the Garden (2001) and Trace (2000). She performed in Tiny Fest (2019) and most recently collaborated with Free Theatre on A Summer Night’s Dream (2020).
Paul Maunder (consultant)
Paul has had a lengthy career in film and theatre. After university he studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney and then at the London Film School. Both writer and director of his films, his work has won international awards. He worked for 5 years at the National Film Unit making films including Gone Up North for a While (1972) and Sons for the Return Home (1979). He was later founder of the influential Amamus Theatre group. Paul has published articles in cultural magazines and short stories in a variety of collections. His PhD thesis has been published as Rebellious Mirrors, Community-based Theatre in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Other publications include Coal and the Coast, a reflection on the Pike River Mine disaster, and Tornado, stories written over time. 2019 saw the publication of a novella, Peace and Goodness, set in Taranaki during the land wars, and 2020 his West Coast Plays: with an introduction by Carol Dawber, a collection of plays written between 2010 and 2020. Paul is current editor of the Labour History Bulletin. Paul now lives in Blackball, on the West Coast, where he remains active in theatre and in community and political issues.
Aaron Hapuku (consultant)
Aaron is a descendent of Ngāti Kahungunu (ki Heretaunga) and Tainui (Ngāti Mahuta) and has been involved in Māori performing arts, theatre performance and traditional Māori weaponry arts for a number of years. Aaron is a member of Te Ahikōmau a Hamo Te Rangi, regularly performing at the biannual Te Matatini National Kapa Haka festival. From 2006 to 2012 Aaron travelled and performed extensively as a member of Moana and Tribe with acclaimed Māori singer and songwriter Moana Maniapoto. He was a member of Ngāti Rānana (The London Māori Club) as a performer, kaiāwhina and composer and founding member of Manaia Ltd, a professional Māori performing arts company based in London, and a student and teacher for Maramara Tōtara. Aaron has a degree in Māori Performing Arts from Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and post-graduate qualifications in Public Health (PGDipPH). He is a trustee for Restorative Justice Canterbury and a board member for Ngā Pou Mana - Māori Allied Health Professionals of Aotearoa. Aaron first performed with Free Theatre in Footprints/Tapuwae (2015) and more recently in The Black Rider (2017) and A Winter’s Tale (2019).
Donna Demente (consultant)
Donna is a New Zealand artist. She is a 1987 graduate of the University of Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts. She specialises in extreme close-up portraiture, with the emphasis on eyes, and also works with masks. Her style is heavily influenced by mediaeval art. She was a winner in the 1991 Nelson World of Wearable Art Awards. Demente has been very heavily involved in the revival of the art scene in North Otago and is the organiser of Oamaru’s annual mask festival. She currently resides in the North Otago town of Oamaru and exhibits much of her work in her Grainstore Gallery which is situated in Harbour Street, Oamaru's Historic Precinct.