Unwanted Drama for the Drama Society
By Emily Heyward
Members of DramaSoc are calling on the UCSA to step up its game and create a better environment for student clubs on campus.
From having to fight for performance space in the Ngaio Marsh Theatre to dealing with moldy storage facilities and broken promises, DramaSoc president Shania Lahina said the club had been facing “roadblocks” at every turn.
She said when it came to securing performance space in the Haere-Roa theatre, the club was up against competition from other clubs, external parties and issues with the booking system.
“It feels like [the UCSA] are not prioritising clubs or student wellbeing,” Lahina said.
For this year’s semester one production, DramaSoc were asked by the UCSA in March to consider moving their May show back a week due to an ‘admin error’ which meant the space had been double-booked.
Yet 24 hours after being asked to consider postponing their show, the club was informed the UCSA was no longer able to accommodate moving the show because it had accepted a new booking request made in that time.
Another time, Lahina said the club had the space booked out for a week, but a day before its dress rehearsal, was told by the UCSA the space was needed for another club event.
“All our set was still on stage, so we had to go early, pack it all away … And in the mess, we lost items from cast, there were things left on stage that were damaged,” she said.
The club president said the UCSA had also promised to help the club find a new storage space for its costumes and stage props which were sitting in a leaky shipping container, but nothing came of it.
DramaSoc treasurer Kristen Truman said meanwhile the club was having to purchase new costumes and props to replace what was in the container as there was “mold everywhere”.
“A lot of our budget ends up going to costuming and props and set because if we store anything in the container (which we only have half use of), it will be destroyed by the time the next show rolls around,” she said.
The pair said the constant setbacks and issues had been “frustrating”.
“It always just feels like the UCSA isn’t on our side and there are many times when we have really felt that disconnect where we have been on campus for a really long time, but it doesn’t feel like we’re welcomed on campus or celebrated,” Lahina said.
UCSA president Kim Fowler said clubs were at the “heart of what we do at the UCSA” and was open to working through concerns clubs were having.
“I completely understand that this is a source of frustration for clubs, and really do wish that the space could be more available, but unfortunately there are a lot of conflicts for booking the Ngaio Marsh Theatre, which was designed to be operated as a multi-purpose space, not just a theatre.”
Fowler said external bookings had never taken priority over clubs during term time. However, in the holidays it was “first come, first served” as the UCSA was working to pay off its debt on the building and making money on external bookings helped.
DramaSoc’s production of ‘Love and Information’ will be held on May 14 and 15. Tickets were available online at eventbrite.