Who wants $1m from Shakespearean playhouse The Pop-Up Globe: liquidators’ first report

Failed Shakespearean Auckland theatre business The Pop-Up Globe owes more than $1 million to creditors whose names have now been published in the first liquidators’ report.

The business has for about six years been erecting a full-scale temporary replica of the Shakespearean Globe Theatre and staging plays but it went under on March 3.

ANZ, Inland Revenue and scaffolding specialists Camelspace are some of the creditors listed by the liquidators.

Bunnings, CSL Container Hire, Elephant Publicity, Ellerslie Event Centre, Eventfinda, iSite, Mediaworks, director and founder Miles Gregory, Phantom Billstickers, Portacom, SEA Containers, Spark and Superloo Sanitation are others.

Nicholson Print, Kenderdine Electrical, Just Water, James Bell Accounting, Perceptual Engineering, Raw Vision, The Canvas Company, Dominion Law, APRA New Zealand and AON Insurance New Zealand are other creditors.

The company’s directors are Tobias Grant of Emily Pl in the city and Dr Miles Gregory of Whangaparaoa.

The Pop-Up Globe Foundation is owned by New Zealand-registered Pop-Up Globe International, jointly owned by the same two men.

In 2015, Gregory said he conceived it after his daughter asked why she couldn’t go to the Globe.

Accountants and liquidators Gareth Hoole and Clive Bish of Ecovis KGA said the pandemic had dealt the theatre its death blow.

“In the approach to the end of the 2019/20 summer season of productions, after a number of successful seasons in Auckland, the decision was made to expand the concept beyond Auckland to other centres in New Zealand and Australia,” they said.

“However, the advent of the global pandemic caused by Covid-19 saw the end of attendances by audiences at live productions and that required the directors to place the
company into hibernation,” the liquidators said.

The company had cash-flow difficulties because it was unable to trade through pandemic lockdowns. Those cash-flow constraints prevented it from paying debts as they fell due.

“The liquidators further understand that the directors developed a plan they believed would give the company an opportunity to recover after the pandemic and negotiated with creditors towards a creditor compromise which would give the company the chance to trade into the future and to honour its obligations to its creditors,” Hoole and Bish said.

But not enough creditors agreed, the shareholder took professional advice, then appointed the liquidators.

Assets are the replica Globe theatre at Ellerslie on land which is leased, office equipment, costumes, props and related theatre equipment, they said.

Secured creditors are owed $384,000, preferential creditors $329,000 and unsecured creditors about $319,000, according to the first statement of financial position.

Assets are an overdrawn cash bank account at -$150,000, fixed assets of $453,000 which include the theatre and receivables of $3000, giving a total asset balance of just $309,079 – well short of the $1m of liabilities, indicating a possible substantial shortfall.

The concept was praised and in 2018, Gregory got a Blake Leader Award.

The former regional producer for Globe London, said: “I was reading Nancy, my daughter, a bedtime story. It was a picture pop-up book and one of the pop-ups was the Globe theatre. Nancy asked whether we could go there. I said, ‘we can’t. The nearest Globe replica is a long way away …’ Then I stopped and thought … a Pop-up Globe … And now here we are!”

Then-mayor Len Brown joined with Gregory to laud the concept. The two men announced it together.

“The experience was so remarkable that ever since the late 19th century, actors and academics – and sometimes a mixture of the two – have sought to recreate as much as is possible the ‘original’ staging conditions of Shakespeare’s own theatres,” said Gregory, formerly a regional producer for Shakespeare’s Globe London.

“Yet Shakespeare’s second Globe Theatre – the theatre he built and in which his work was being performed at the time he died – has never been accurately reconstructed. Our aim is to recreate as faithfully as possible this original performance space so Pop-up Globe’s audience can enjoy the remarkable experience of Shakespeare’s own audience 400 years ago,” Gregory said in 2015.

The building would be the “first faithful reconstruction of Shakespeare’s second Globe Theatre”, referring to the Bankside, Southwark, structure in London.

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