9 Apr 2014

Conchords go into bat for theatre

9:15 am on 9 April 2014

The comedy duo the The Flight of the Conchords came together on Tuesday for a rare performance to raise money for the refurbishment of the theatre where their hit show began.

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, along with the band Fly My Pretties and comedian Te Radar, performed for friends and other alumni of Bats Theatre.

The aim was to raise money for the fitout of the building, which was threatened with closure three years ago before being bought by Sir Peter Jackson for $1.1 million.

The Flight of the Conchords back at Bats Theatre.

The Flight of the Conchords back at Bats Theatre. Photo: RNZ / Teresa Cowie

The experimental theatre company, which has nurtured many of New Zealand's top acting and production talents, celebrates its 25th birthday this month.

McKenzie and Clement began performing at Bats in the late 1990s and say they were relieved to hear it had been rescued by Sir Peter.

"I (Bret McKenzie) thought that was great because we couldn't afford to do it. We would have done a bad earthquake strengthening job; we would have had to do it ourselves."

Its famous landlord, Sir Peter, has provided the cash need for the building's earthquake strengthening and expansion but the theatre still needs to make up a 20 percent funding shortfall to pay for the internal fitout including, lighting, curtains and seating.

Chair Victoria Spackman with Bats'  birthday cake.

Chair Victoria Spackman with Bats' birthday cake. Photo: RNZ / Teresa Cowie

Bats board chairperson Victoria Spackman says the theatre will be much bigger when it re-opens back at the old site.

"We're now going to be occupying the whole building, so we are going to have a theatre downstairs, another theatre up on the first floor and then up on the top floor we have got a small studio space that will be used for rehearsals."

The Conchords say having somewhere for rehearsals will be a definite asset for performers.

"It was tough in our day cause we had to find a rehearsal space, luckily Bret's mum has a studio so sometimes we would be there if we were lucky"

The theatre has moved temporarily while the building is being strengthened. It is due to return to its Kent Terrace site in the Wellington CBD when its strengthening work is finished in September.