Alas poor Fortune I knew it well

May 1, 2018

One of Dunedin’s cultural gems, the Fortune Theatre, has announced its immediate closure:

Employees were told at 9am the theatre company would close today, with no further shows to be performed there.

Fortune Board of Trustees chairwoman Haley van Leeuwen said the board had been through an exhaustive process of reviews, and had closed the theatre because it was no longer financially viable.

According to its website it employed 11 permanent staff.

“We would like to acknowledge our staff during this difficult time who have worked hard towards the goal of securing the future of the theatre.”

“We have looked at many different avenues to avert closure, however theatres and their audiences have changed over the years, and we must now take stock, with the goal of keeping the tradition of local professional theatre alive in Dunedin.”

“Whatever future development arises it will be in a new format that represents the future model of theatre in New Zealand.

Fortune Theatre is New Zealand’s southernmost professional theatre and was established in 1974 at the Athenaeum in the Octagon.

It moved to its present location at the Trinity Methodist Church in 1978. . . 

 This is very sad for those directly affected, the arts community, the city and wider Otago.

The first play I saw at the Fortune was Roger Hall’s Glide Time (which later spawned the popular and long-running TV series Gliding On).

It was the first live play I had seen at a professional theatre and the first New Zealand play I’d seen performed.

I was a student then and continued going to the theatre until I finished university.

When I moved back to North Otago a few years later I began going down to Dunedin for plays when I could.

I returned to university about 10 years ago and for the next couple of years two friends and I would have a quick meal before going to Tuesday’s 6pm performance.

Those early evening performances worked well when I was back home, enabling a car load of us to see a play without being too late home.

But alas, in the last few years I wasn’t a regular theatre-goer and the Fortune’s fortunes show that too few others were too.

I am very sorry to read of its closure and hope that efforts to resurrect it are successful.


Another candidate from political crypt

July 27, 2014

The Mana Party is following its stable-mate the Internet Party in dragging out candidates from the political crypt:

The world’s first openly transsexual MP Georgina Beyer is standing for the Mana Party in the Te Tai Tonga electorate.

Ms Beyer will stand in the Maori seat, which covers the entire South Island, Stewart Island, Chatham Islands, Wellington and parts of the Hutt Valley.

She has links to the electorate through her Te Ati Awa and Ngati Mutunga whakapapa, Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira said today.

“Our goal this election is to raise the profile of Mana, grow our numbers in Parliament, and help change the Government,” he said.

“Georgina’s a respected household name in politics so she’s an important part of helping achieve that goal. We feel honoured to have her.” . . .

Respected? By whom?
Certainly not the Fortune Theatre:
Transsexual former MP Georgina Beyer has quit the Fortune Theatre production 6 Dance Lessons in 6 Weeks two days before it was due to open in Dunedin.It is the first time a production has been cancelled at the Fortune Theatre.Ms Beyer said yesterday she had made the decision to leave the play after realising “I bit off more than I could chew”.

The play was scheduled to open tonight and run until March 7.

“It’s a massive disappointment. I feel terribly disappointed for the Fortune Theatre and for the Dunedin public. But, in my view, it would have been irresponsible to put it on,” she said.

Ms Beyer gave her decision to the theatre management after rehearsals on Wednesday afternoon.

“I just felt that I couldn’t put my co-star Douglas Kamo in danger and put on a production that could be slammed by the critics,” she said.

“It was a massive role. I wasn’t going too badly at the start, but I just couldn’t anchor the script in my head. I kept blowing my lines.” . . .

That cancellation cost the Fortune Theatre Trust thousands of dollars.
If memory serves me correctly, although she announced her resignation before parliament broke for the summer holidays, it didn’t take effect until the new year so she was rehearsing for the play at the taxpayers’ expense.
She then ran out of money and complained about not getting any government appointments:

Former Labour MP Georgina Beyer plans to move to Australia because she cannot find work.

The three-term Wairarapa MP, the world’s first transsexual politician, said she was disillusioned with life after politics and upset at the treatment she had received from her former Labour Party colleagues.

Ms Beyer said that while other former Labour MPs were appointed to boards, she had received nothing and was turned down for a position on the Human Rights Commission.

The former chairwoman of Parliament’s social services committee said she had been forced to accept the unemployment benefit for several months late last year before selling her house to pay the bills “so I didn’t have to be on the dole”.

“I have all this accumulated knowledge and experience and no one wants to employ it, and I’m not sure why,” she said.

“That I’m of no further use to my country is why I’m considering Australia, that my former parliamentary colleagues seem not to want to appoint me to anything, but are quite happy to accommodate others who have left or are about to, so as to shut them up from whingeing from the sidelines in election year.

“One could be forgiven for being a little vexed.” . . .

Lots of taxpayers could well be vexed too but by her attitude rather than the lack of appointments.

In her valedictory speech in February last year, Ms Beyer described her political career as the “greatest moment of my life”.

But she said she now felt disillusioned by it.

“Politics was never my ambition. I was coaxed into it by others,” she said. . . .

“It seems that I am not valued for my experience in either local or central government, so I guess I wasted 14 years of my life in publicly elected service and ended up unemployable.”

And now Mana and Kim Dotcom have found a job for her.

Let’s hope the good folk of Te Tai Tonga, the largest electorate of all, ensure it’s temporary.


Four Flat Whites in Italy

December 20, 2009

Roger Hall has a genius for illustrating the general through the particular.

His characters are people we know and through them we see ourselves and others we recognise.

While enjoying Four Flat Whites in Italy at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre last night, I found myself thinking, I’ve heard this conversation. Moments later  I was thinking, I‘ve had this conversation!

This is vintage Hall with good jokes, a little bit of politics, some rugby, believable characters and clever dialogue interwoven with some serious themes and moments of poignancy.

The acting was superb, the set simple but effective and scene shifts were flawless.

Last night’s performance was the season’s finale. If the play returns or is showing elsewhere, I’d recommend it.


Connell resigns

August 28, 2008

Rakaia MP Brian Connell  is leaving parliament early to begin work in Brisbane.

Mr Connell had advised Speaker Margaret Wilson that he was resigning as an MP as of August 31.

The MP is suspended from the National caucus as a result of challenging former National leader Don Brash about an alleged affair. He had hoped that new leader John Key would allow him back into the fold, but it never happened.

He said he was going to work for a multinational consulting company for a “substantial” salary” and the move was in the best interests of his constituents.

A by-election is not necessary because the vacancy occurs within six months of a general election.

It wasn’t what Connell did but the way he did it that was wrong and Key was right not to reinstate him. That  sent a much-needed message that MPs whose actions damage the party have no place in caucus.

However, Connell’s behaviour since Key became leader has been exemplary and he’s found himself a good job in the real world.

Contrast that with Georgina Beyer who announced her resignation but didn’t step down for several months so she continued receiving her parliamentary salary over the summer break. In that time she was rehearsing for a play at the Fortune Theatre but she pulled out just before opening night leaving the theatre with the costs. And now she’s complaining because her former colleagues haven’t appointed her to a well paid job.

Aoraki MP Jo Goodhew  is standing for National in the new Rangitata electorate and Amy Adams  is the party’s candidate in the new electorate of Selwyn which cover most of what was the Rakaia seat.


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