Date posted: 17/02/2021 5 min read

Meet the CA at home backstage: Keaton Pronk CA

This business turnaround specialist at McDonald Vague in Auckland also plays a big role in the Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre.

In Brief

  • Keaton Pronk CA first joined the Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre group 12 years ago.
  • He now mostly does backstage work and is also the treasurer.
  • His favourite moment of working at the theatre is when any play gets a full house.

As told to Jo McKinnon

How did you get involved with Playhouse Theatre?

Funnily enough, I saw an ad in the paper and applied that way. They were looking for a big tall dude to feature in Funny Money, a play they were doing. The character was a big, German, mob-boss kind of guy. (I’d done some performing at school at Lynfield College.)

That was 12 years ago. Now, I mostly do backstage – set construction and stage managing. We get together once a week on a Tuesday. It’s people from all walks of life and all different ages. You get to have a good time with your mates.

Why did you step up to become the Theatre’s treasurer in January 2018?

I got asked! They were, I suppose, having a little bit of trouble and they were looking for someone to do the job. I’d been building sets for them for quite some time, so they knew me fairly well

The theatre group had been losing money for six years, basically.

Yes, but I think most theatre groups everywhere tend to operate in the negative. That’s how they kind of roll.

 

How did you turn that around to post a profit in your first year as treasurer?

Like with any business, we basically broke it down to the bottom line and had a look at every little cost, where we could save any money. [We did that] so there weren’t a whole bunch of fixed costs sitting there, and it was just the variable cost for putting on the shows.

We get some funding through grants and revenue from ticket sales and front-of-house sales when we’re running shows – we do three a year.

Now, it’s about making sure everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction and understands that if they do have a budget, how to stick to it.

How does the theatre committee choose what shows to do?

When we’re looking at different plays, deciding what ones to do, I run budgets for each one. I run the numbers based on what we think attendance will be like. But 100%, absolutely, you need to pick shows that are going to attract more people. We can’t, as much as we’d like, do some of the more niche ones because we need to fill our 240-seat theatre in order to cover a lot of our costs

How did COVID 19 change things?

We ended up cancelling all three of our shows in 2020 [due to the second Auckland lockdown]. We’ve had effectively no income, unfortunately. But because of the past two years, we did have a bit of a buffer built up, so it was not by any means dire. But, yes, we’re applying for grants where we can.

What has been your best moment at the theatre?

It’s really any of the shows where we get a full house, to be honest. You get a big applause at the end. You’re maybe backstage, maybe on stage, but you get the buzz of everyone really enjoying it.

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