The Loons Theatre Trust
The Loons Theatre Trust is an arts organisation specialising in theatrical performance and education.
The story of the Loons began in 2006 when Mike Friend and Darryl Cribb took on the lease of 16 Canterbury Street, a working men’s club threatened with closure. Mike and Darryl turned the building into a theatre, adopting the local name for the building dating from the 1920’s when it was The Loons Garage. The Loons Grand Opening Cabaret took place in March 2007 and sold out.
Mike invited eight performers to create the Loons Circus Theatre Company and over the course of the following five years the Loons became nationally and internationally renowned for creating startlingly original shows fusing circus with theatre. The Company performed from Whangarei to Invercargill. It was invited to a dozen arts festivals. And it took its signature show The Butler to London for a three week run at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington.
At the same time 16 Canterbury Street became a cultural and social hub of Lyttelton and drew thousands through the tunnel from Christchurch for a night out. In five years the venue staged over 400 events ranging from the full-blown professional theatre of The Butler to children’s shows, charity fund-raisers and community quiz nights.
The building was also used to teach classes in the performing arts to both children and adults. Out of these developed the educational arm of the Loons, known as Loons in Schools.
In 2010 the Loons Theatre Trust was formed to embrace all the activities the Loons had built up: the professional theatre, the community events, and education in the performing arts.