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Familiar faces to bring powerful plays to Fortune Theatre

Media release – for immediate release

05 August 2014

VERBATIM - Familiar faces to bring powerful plays to Fortune Theatre

Two iconic New Zealand plays are gearing up to visit to Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre – just in time to wish the theatre a belated fortieth birthday. Verbatim (by William Brandt, devised by Miranda Harcourt and William Brandt), and Portraits (by Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie) are on a regional tour to theatres, prisons, and schools around New Zealand.

Bringing the work back home two decades after they were created and first toured. Last Tapes Theatre Company and JustSpeak are on the road with these seminal works, challenging audiences with a message about our society, and how we engage with issues around the criminal justice system. The touring group features an incredible cast embodying multiple characters to paint pictures of violent crime and its endless repercussions.

In the early 1990’s pre-eminent actor Miranda Harcourt and Wellington playwright William Brandt visited prisons and homes across the country and collected stories of crime from those who felt the most tragic impact of it. From these interviews, Brandt and Harcourt created Verbatim, a story of murder told through the words of dozens of offenders, their families and families of victims. Harcourt toured the play to every prison in New Zealand, as well as schools and theatre’s across the country. Now, twenty years on, a new generation of theatre practitioners are bringing these works to a new audience, encouraging communities to question the way in which our country deals with crime and the shattered lives it leaves behind. Taking to the stage as all six characters in Verbatim is Renée Lyons, fresh off a national tour of her stunning solo show Nick: An Accidental Hero.

From the same interviews that Verbatim was created, Portraits was written by Miranda Harcourt and her husband Stuart McKenzie. Portraits is a harrowing look into four lives affected by the rape and murder of a teenage girl in a small New Zealand town. Screen favourites Jodie Rimmer (Agent Anna, Nothing Trivial, In My Father’s Den) and Fraser Brown (Field Punishment Number One, Erebus: Operation Overdue) bring powerful and intimate performances to these four roles – roles that are difficult - “where acting meets real life. The most challenging work of my thirty year career” says Rimmer. They are also roles that have had profound personal impact on these experienced practitioners. Brown says “this material is incredibly powerful and speaks to me deeply as a father. Portraits has been and continues to be an amazing experience”.

For many of those involved with the tour, visiting the Fortune Theatre will mean a happy return to familiar territory. Director Jeff Szusterman directed My First Time there in 2009 with wife Jacque Drew in the cast. For producers Robin and Danielle Kelly, this production is a return home to the place they grew up, and the theatre that introduced them to the performing arts. And of course Miranda Harcourt, who was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to theatre, has a long history with Fortune Theatre. Many fantastic photos of her past performances there have been emerging over its fortieth birthday celebrations. Harcourt says of Verbatim and Portraits “these plays changed my life, and this is a truly brilliant new production of them!” Don’t miss your first opportunity in over ten years to see them.

“VERBATIM is a success not because of the quality of the pieces, even though these are of a high quality with stunning performances, but because of what it provokes in an audience.”

The Lumiere Reader, July 2014.

“…this is theatre at its most raw and effecting.”

Metro Magazine, Nov 2013.

“Touching, affecting, moving …”

Theatreview, Nov 2013.

“Fraser Brown's stillness as both offender and victim's father is compelling, while Jodie Rimmer manages to age 20 years with the fall of her mouth.”

NZ Herald, Nov 2013.

Tickets can be purchased from

Warning: Please be advised that these works contain some potentially distressing material, including coarse language and descriptions of sexual violence.


When: Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 August, 7pm

Where: Fortune Theatre, 231 Stuart Street (cnr Stuart Street and Moray Place), Dunedin

Tickets: $25 adult, $20 concession (member/senior/student)


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