Theatre helps the community thrive

Found in a 100-year-old former church building within Tauranga’s Historic Village, Detour Theatre is a space which offers many a sense of inclusion and belonging.

With drama classes and regular shows on offer, Detour Theatre strives to be an affordable option for the community to ensure participation is available for those who will benefit from their classes or shows.

Offering four plays a year, regular drama classes for children through to adults, and groups with special needs, Detour Theatre focuses on creating theatre art as a gift for the betterment of individuals, families, and the wider community.

Striving to develop the skills, community spirit and artistic sensibilities of those walking into the theatre, Theatre Manager Devon Williamson says they also aim to create a place for debate, self-expression, and interactivity.

“In an age of increasing isolation and individualisation, opportunities for audiences, actors, volunteers, and learners bring people from across the community together at our local theatre.”

“People with intellectual disabilities can feel a separation from the wider community. Whilst seniors can find it difficult to make new friends and people with low incomes can find it a financial challenge to attend live shows and entertainment,” says Devon, “All of these situations cause people to feel less connected with their community and serve to increase isolation and individualisation.”

By offering affordable shows and drama classes, these groups develop relationships within classes and onstage, in a supportive and safe environment through shared experiences.

The close connections made between participants see Detour Theatre crafting not only outstanding shows and lessons but also enhancing the emotional and mental well-being of their attendees.

Devon explains the theatre staff aim to drive motivation to develop individuals and help them find and connect to the community.

They’ve seen successes through the growth in confidence and communication skills with their special needs participants. Seniors make new friends at Seniors’ Acting Classes and enjoy those relationships outside class. As well as children and teenagers making new friends and learning valuable relationship and communication skills.

With 3,000 attendees to Detour Theatre’s shows throughout the year, they provide entertainment to the community as well as offer their actors the opportunity to experience the buzz of live theatre in front of an intimate audience.

Local funder TECT recently granted $15,000 to Detour Theatre Trust to continue providing consistent services and experiences to those visiting them.

TECT Trustee Kate Barry-Piceno says the benefits of learning the craft of acting and performing allow people to realise their unique talents and develop their self-confidence, relationship development and personal fulfilment.

“TECT’s support for Detour Theatre showcases the value of their work and their contribution to building a thriving, caring and connected community in the Western Bay of Plenty.”


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