The country's largest professional theatre company is introducing a "pay what you can" night when the Back on the Boards season starts in September, six months after Covid-19 forced an early curtain call for public entertainment, including on the stage.
The move is to give those who may be struggling with money or who are unsure of theatre's value the chance to experience a live performance, including one play inspired by the lockdown, Auckland Theatre Company chief executive Jonathan Bielski said.
It also recognised the tough times many face as a result of the pandemic's economic impact, which has cost thousands of Kiwis their jobs, and forced others to take pay cuts.
Pay what you can - which will be offered on one night for each of the three plays being performed - could even mean paying nothing at all, Bielski said.
"We thought in the spirit of giving back on the stage, why not have somewhere people can go along and be part [of the theatre]. [It's designed] for people for whom money is the main barrier."
The move was also about taking the risk out of paying for a new experience, and allowing theatre newbies the chance to see if it was something they enjoyed, he said.
"You don't want to spend $50 or $60, and find you don't like it. But we hope they will fall in love with the experience."
The mini-theatre festival, which has an already-reduced ticket price of $37 for adults, and lower for concession tickets, runs from September 3 to 20 at Auckland's ASB Waterfront Theatre.
It features three works from New Zealand playwrights, including popular award-winning play Still Life with Chickens, Bielski said.
The play, by D.F. Mamea and starring Goretti Chadwick, of Pani and Pani and Sione's Wedding, and puppeteer Haanz Fa'avae-Jackson, centres on a Samoan woman's "delightful yet begruding" friendship with the stray hen who has invaded her garden.
"It's one of our most loved plays and we want to bring it back because it's so popular."
Black Lover, by Stanley Makuwe and which tells the story of Kiwi and former 1950s Prime Minister of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) Sir Garfield Todd, sold out earlier this year before Covid-19 forced its season to close shortly after opening.
The final play - 48 Nights on Hope Street - is a new work by a team of writers, and is based on recent events still sharply in focus for many.
Holed up on Hope Street during New Zealand's lockdown, five flatmates pass the time telling tall tales every night, for 48 nights. The play is inspired by the spirit of Giovanni Bocaccio's The Decameron, written in the 14th century as the plague was sweeping through Europe.
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Judging by ticket sales, Kiwis seem keen to reflect on our shared lockdown experience, Bielski said. "It's nearly sold out."