Adapted and directed by Keith Scott
The Globe Theatre, Dunedin
In our times of terrorism and Trump, Mary Stuart – a play about the entwined fortunes of two global powerhouses – could hardly be more relevant.
Like all good plays, Mary Stuart leaves us with questions. When public opinion can turn on a dime, what weight should it have, and on what matters? Is integrity worth more than personal safety? And why is it sometimes so hard to do the right thing?
Read the full review on Theatreview.
The National Writers Forum
17 – 18 September
University of Auckland Business School
I arrived at the inaugural National Writers Forum (NWF) with a sheath of beautifully printed pitch documents and visions of pressing them into the open hands of delighted publishers.
By the end of the first session I knew I would be doing no such thing – but I also knew I was in for an enriching, enlightening two days. The NWF had a practical focus on improving your writing, placing your writing, building your reputation and finding an audience. A collegial tone was set by keynote speaker Chris Cleave (UK), who spoke of the importance of storytelling and supportiveness in our turbulent times. (You can read Chris’s full speech here. It’s well worth your time.)
During most time slots there was a choice of three different sessions. I’m currently finishing the illustrations for a children’s picture book I’ve written, so I choose the sessions that related to publishing. I wanted to find out more about how to pitch to traditional publishers, and how to self-publish. Below are the key messages I took away from the sessions I attended.
The Perfect Pitch
Melanie Laville-Moore (Allen & Unwin), Duncan Greive (The Spinoff), Kevin Chapman (Upstart Press), Harriet Allan (Penguin Random House), Scott Pack (Unbound).
Copyright and Contacts
The Future of Publishing
Scott Pack (Unbound), Dominic Hoey (Boosted)
Publishing 101: Making a book
Kalee Jackson (Kalee Jackson Design), Karen McMillan (Publicity), Malcolm Nell (Kobo), Martin Taylor (digitalpublishing101.com), Jenna Todd (Time Out Bookstore)
Elizabeth Heritage, Publicist
Support, sustain, survive
Siobhan Harvey (Writer), Malcolm Nell (Kobo), Anne O’Brien (Auckland Writers Festival Director), Rachel Jean (South Pacific Pictures)
I wish I knew when I didn’t know…
Patricia Grace, Stephen Daisley, Kate Pullinger, Chris Cleave, Paula Morris
Along with these notes I also took away new ideas, new confidence and new friendships. The NWF was superbly well-organised and well worth the time and money.
On the occasion of what would have been her 107th birthday, I chatted to actress Alex Ellis about the experience of portraying one of New Zealand's greatest adventurers - Jean Batten.
“If you have an ambition you should go for it, even if it sounds ridiculous,” says local actress Alex Ellis. “Jean Batten was an Auckland teenager who, in 1930, decided she would sail to England, learn to fly a plane and be the first person ever to fly all the way to New Zealand. Ridiculous."
Read the full story on the Glory Days telegraph.
Not in Our Neighbourhood
Written and Directed by Jamie McCaskill
Presented by Tikapa Productions in association with Te Whāriki Manawahine O Hauraki
Fortune Theatre, 13 September 2016
Yesterday evening I stepped over the threshold of Dunedin's Fortune Theatre for the first time, where I was treated to an outstanding performance from Kali Kopae. Kopae is like a graceful tornado as she twists and turns from broken, sexy, tyrannical, nurturing and powerful. At times her performance is like dance or like song. Watching Kopae in action is the theatrical equivalent of watching an Olympic gymnastics routine: controlled, exquisite, exhilarating.
Read the full review on Theatreview.
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.