Sonny and Cher, Batman and Robin, Fred and Ginger – what do each of these pairs have in common? The undeniable fact that they work incredibly well together. When Ara Institute of Canterbury decided to join forces with The Court Theatre as the Show Partner of Frankenstein, it was quickly realised that the union of these two Canterbury institutions was no exception.

The partnership is a multi-faceted collaboration which also sees 15 third year students from Ara’s National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) feature in the Frankenstein cast.

We sat down with Ara Manager of Marketing and Engagement - Emma West, to discuss why this partnership works so well.

 - Why does it make sense for Ara Institute of Canterbury and The Court Theatre to be in partnership? The partnership is the ideal opportunity for two creative powerhouses in the region to combine forces, for the benefit of both partners and the wider community. The Court is the region’s premier theatrical brand;  Ara, through its highly-regarded Creative Arts programmes, is a major source of up-and-coming creative talent in music, theatre, design and fashion. The partnership solidifies the mutual opportunities to invigorate local creativity.

Just as Ara performing arts students naturally benefit from performing in a working professional theatre, with professional directors and other team members, The Court Theatre can benefit from Ara’s connection with new and youthful audiences; use Ara’s teaching and learning capabilities to upskill or inform staff;  and reach out to a wide range of industry groups. So, it seems natural to Ara to ‘join forces’ with The Court Theatre, for the benefit of learners, theatre-goers, and Canterbury’s wider creative community.

- What values do you think Ara shares with The Court Theatre? One of Ara’s key values is ‘hono’  (connect), which is at the heart of our relationship with our learners and with our partners. Ara aims to always be open to opportunities to connect with other organisations in order to create something that’s greater than the sum of its parts, and by partnering with The Court Theatre, arts lovers and performers are able to better connect.

Another of our core values is ‘hiriri’ (inspire), and the Ara / Court Theatre partnership means that both parties can provide more opportunities for learners, business partners and audiences to draw closer to the magic of the theatre.

- What excites you the most about seeing this show come to life? Seeing the different ways in which Ara performing arts students contribute to the production, and how the director Holly Chappell, imaginatively uses the stage and the cast to convey a multiplicity of locations and dramatic interactions.

As Court Theatre Artistic Director Dan Pengelly (another fantastic Ara alum) says, Frankenstein will be the Court’s “biggest show of the year…a unique and unforgettable experience for Cantabrians.” This is the original Gothic tale that helped to spawn hugely successful films such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show that still draw large live audiences. But this is even better; it’s live theatre and will be thrilling, chilling and thought-provoking in equal measures.

- Do you have any advice for other businesses thinking of supporting The Court Theatre? Having a strong theatrical company operating in Christchurch is one important factor that makes this city attractive to visitors and investors, businesses and students, so it’s a win-win to support it!

- And finally, where to from here for Ara Institute of Canterbury? Ara is expanding and diversifying a number of its Creative programmes for the coming year, including its performing arts programme, all the better to meet the ever-changing needs of learners and industry.

The great thing about Ara is the collective offering; even though we offer learners an effective direct pathway into the industry of their choice, we also nurture those who may come to change their career aspirations. After all, in the past we’ve had trainee chefs who became Artistic Directors of theatres (Dan Pengelly), theatre students turned Ara Engagement Liaisons, and pastry cooks who became education experts. The possibilities are endless at Ara!

Ara Institute of Canterbury is the Show Partner for Frankenstein, currently running at The Court Theatre until September 4. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Are you interested in becoming a Court Theatre Show Partner? Contact to learn about next year’s opportunities.