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500 Letters - Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre

500 Letters
1 man, 1 room, 44 years
1 woman, 1 friendship

20-30 October 2005
Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE®



Remarkable New Zealand Story To Premiere in Auckland

Sometimes the best advice is silence …

Twenty years ago Pauline Grogan met James Lynch – a severely disabled man immobile and confined to a hospital bed. His laughter and strength inspired Pauline to step where she feared to tread.

In a world premiere production, Pauline brings this remarkable story to the stage in 500 Letters at the Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE® from October 20-30.

Developed by STAMP at THE EDGE® and directed by Margaret Mary Hollins with design by Simon Coleman and Andrew McMillan, 500 Letters weaves together truth and memory, imagination and reality into a unique piece of new New Zealand theatre.

500 Letters is written and performed by Pauline Grogan who at 60 has undergone a challenging journey to learn the range of skills needed to see her story come to life on the stage.

“It’s been very intense,” she says. “I’ve been doing theatre workshops, going to voice lessons, taking singing lessons and renewing my love of playing piano.”
Pauline was inspired to bring James’ story to the stage after writing her books Beyond the Veil and A View From Within, and following feedback from the motivational speaking she undertakes throughout New Zealand.

“I met James after my daughter had a stroke when she was 10. A friend had asked me to visit him in hospital and that meeting was a turning point in my life – James was immobile and very disabled, yet he became my mentor for 15 years.”
Pauline says she had believed that she was James’ only visitor, but when he died in 2001, more than 200 people attended his funeral.

“I put a notice in the local paper enquiring about others whose lives had been touched by James Lynch and I received hundreds of letters.”

500 Letters tells James’ story through Pauline’s eyes, interweaving her own story into the performance from her life as a Catholic nun, through leaving the convent, to life as a wife, mother, teacher and author.

500 Letters premieres at the Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE® from October 20-30. Book at Ticketek by phoning (09) 307-5000 or online at

Pauline and Margaret-Mary Hollins are available for interview. For more information and to arrange interviews and reviewer tickets please contact:


A former nun, mother of four and now highly sought after motivational speaker, Pauline Grogan’s journey is a tale of twists and turns through love and loss, secrets and scars and finally to triumph.
Pauline grew up in a sheltered Catholic family where her only desire was to be a nun. She entered the convent aged 17 “going on 11” as a naïve young girl wanting to please so many people and meet the many expectations placed upon her. After 12 years as a teaching nun, her innocence was stolen.
Aged 29 she found herself out on the streets with just her belongings and nowhere to go. Many people cut her off presuming she had flirted with the respected priest and therefore was responsible for his actions.
At 30 Pauline married and had four babies in three and a half years. But tragedy struck when her eldest child, aged 10, collapsed in the schoolyard with a brain haemorrhage leading to a debilitating stroke.
The ensuing years led Pauline on a fascinating journey of study and research on the effects of trauma on families as she fought to keep her own together. At the age of 50 she completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree and has spent most of her life concentrating on her successful career in education.
Her 1996 autobiography Beyond the Veil was the account of her life and the lessons she had learned on the agonising journey to peace. It was a book written before its time as she was pilloried by the church, friends, family and the media.
It later became the subject of a Television New Zealand Extreme Close Up documentary and today people still contact her from all over the country having found the resolve and courage to confront pain in their own lives.
Pauline later wrote A View From Within – the story of James Lynch. At the age of 60, she is now embarking on her first theatre performance, 500 Letters.

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