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Jean Batten – Flying in the Face of Danger And Convention

Jean Batten – Flying in the Face of Danger And Convention

Flaxworks present

Miss Jean Batten

7 – 11 March 2017 at Circa Theatre, Wellington

Jean Batten’s 1936 flight from England to New Zealand in a single engine plane made of wood and fabric navigating with just a compass and a watch is one of the extraordinary feats of the last century. Yet when she successfully landed in Auckland the Mayor greeted her with the words,

“Jean, you are a very naughty girl, and really I think you want a good spanking for giving us such a terribly anxious time here.”

Miss Jean Batten is a solo show, produced by Flaxworks theatre company, written by Phil Ormsby and performed by Alex Ellis about New Zealand’s legendary Aviatrix. Directed by Amanda Rees with set design by John Parker, costume by Elizabeth Whiting, lighting by Ruby Reihana-Wilson and sound by Thomas Press the play premiered to fantastic responses from critics and audience alike in 2016, 80 years after Jean Batten's record breaking flight to New Zealand.

Phil Ormsby, playwright and co-producer of Flaxworks says the play was in his head for a few years before its premiere in at the Basement Theatre in Auckland;

“Despite her world-renowned achievements, I think Jean Batten is still largely unappreciated by New Zealanders today and we wanted to bring her to life and really celebrate the determination, bravery and bold sense of adventure she embodied to achieve what she did. It’s exciting for us to be able to perform the play around the country and we’re looking forward to bringing her story to Circa.”

Utterly fearless Jean Batten flew at a time when pilots regularly disappeared without a trace. She spoke of panic and self-doubt as she flew for hours without a landmark, not knowing if she had drifted off her flight path, miscalculated wind gusts or fuel consumption or simply made a navigational error.

She was unquestionably brave but rarely reckless, unassuming but unswervingly determined and despite her high public profile she carefully guarded her privacy. She received Brazil’s Officer Of The Order Of The Southern Cross, France’s Chevalier de Legion d’Honeur and a CBE from Britain. She won USA’s Harmon Aeronautics Trophy three years running.

Described as enigmatic, a Prima Donna, inspirational, exploitative, loyal, and a victim of her own success, Jean was someone who didn’t always fit neatly into the box society placed her in but she seems to have lived exactly the life she wanted in a world where women’s options were limited.

Miss Jean Batten is set in the VIP Suite of the Hotel Australia, Sydney, on the eve of the last and most important leg of her historic flight to New Zealand. She has had 8 hours sleep in 8 days. Fatigued and anxious to keep going she is juggling press calls, sponsorship offers, fan mail, weather reports and now last minute attempts are being made to prevent her from flying at all.

Miss Jean Batten is a joyous celebration of an independent woman who pursued her ambition with unqualified success but still found herself being judged and patronised because of her gender. Most of all though, it’s about capturing the spirit of Jean Batten, New Zealand’s most famous Aviatrix, who made the first-ever solo flight from England to New Zealand setting a record that stood for 44 years. It’s a story of success against enormous odds and one that should resonate with every kiwi.

“It’s a star performance, one that the legend that is Jean Batten more than deserves.”

Sam Brooks, Pantograph Punch
“This is a gem of a show.” Alex Bonham, Whats Good Blog
Miss Jean Batten at Circa Theatre, Wellington from 7 - 11 March at 6.30pm Tuesday – Thursday and 8pm Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $25 - $35 and available from Circa


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