We’ve listed some key moments from our history below.
You can also visit our Gallery page to browse through our documented archives, or review our complete list of our productions from 1947 to 2007.
The following is an exert from “Drama Christi, The First Forty Years”, by Tim Priestley and Roy Hill.
“The year of new beginnings. A young, enthusiastic, forward-looking Minister, the Rev. W.H. Greenslade had been inducted as Superintendent of Wellington Central Circuit. His mind was running on the new forms of communication exciting the world. Who can say it was mere accident that he met Don Priestley in the street one day and suggested that he might produce “something for Christmas” in Welsey Church.
The “something” was a production on 7th December in Wesley Church of “The First Crib” by Evelyn Hart, written for the newly formed Religious Drama Society of Great Britain. It was played with members of Wellington Repertory Society taking leads while members of Wesley Congregation made up the crowd.
Though the name “Wesley Drama Christi” was not used till a year or so later, that was the beginning. Arthur Olsson, Roy Hill and Tim (Allona) Priestley were all in that first cast.”
Plays and rehearsals were conducted in the church hall.
An elderly member walked out of a Service during Don Priestley’s reading of “It is Yahweh who speaks…” from Amos, declaring that he wasn’t going to sit and listen to Don Priestley pretending to be God.
Drama Christi became an official body. Its name was borrowed from that of a group in the British Religous Drama Society.
Two members of Drama Christi were killed in the Tangiwai Railway disaster. Monica Cook and Kathleen Hallam, from England, had taken part in “The Betrayers” only a few weeks before.
Fortnightly trips to Mt Crawford prison began.
Rehearsals now took place in the space upstairs from the Wesley lounge.
Drama Christi took over the Old Bookroom.
In July, the Old Bookroom was officially opened as The Drama Christi Studio Theatre.
Peter Morton, and other members, rebuilt the dressing rooms and the whole backstage area, making the Studio one of the best small theatres in Wellington.
Drama Christi celebrates its 25th Anniversary since becoming an official body.
On the 10th March, Don Priestley died after a short and unexpected illness. Drama Christi members took part in his funeral on the 13th March “acknowledging in a dramatic gesture their unpayable debt”.
Drama Christi celebrates its 40th Anniversary. A book, ‘Drama Christi, The First Forty Years’, was published.
On the 31st of August, Alison Morton, a long standing member of Drama Christi, died tragically in a boating accident at Lake Wairarapa.
The Wesley Lounge was destroyed by fire.
Drama Christi goes online!
Drama Christi celebrates its 50th Anniversary. A book, ‘Drama Christi – The First Fifty Years’, was produced by updating and revising the book published for the 40th anniversary.
Tim (Allona) Priestley, who co-founded Drama Christi over 50 years ago, died peacefully on the morning of Friday 12th June 1998. She will be sorely missed by all of us, as we owe her so much.
Drama Christi celebrates 75 years!
Our founders, Don & Tim Priestley
The Little Clay Cart, 1974
50th Anniversary, 1997
The Night Before Christmas, 2003