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The Hannah Playhouse was built to house Downstage Theatre Company with funds from a bequest provided by the late Sheilah Winn OBE (1917-2001). The auditorium, into the design of which Downstage Theatre designer Raymond Boyce (MBE Hon LitD) had substantial input, is unique in its capacity for transformation. Featuring a modular lighting grid, removable auditorium floor, as well as a flytower, the undressed concrete of the exterior continues to the interior, leading one elderly patron to say, "Very nice. Shame they ran out of money to finish it." Written by Simon Taylor.
On 27 May the 2006 New Zealand Institute of Architects’ Award for enduring architecture was given to James Beard’s Hannah Playhouse. With the loss, in 2013, of theatre company, Downstage, resident at the Hannah Playhouse from 1973, the upkeep of the theatre was uncertain. At the moment it is used as a venue for hire, supported by the Hannah Playhouse Trust and Wellington City Council.