Successful Collaboration Between The Fortune and University of Otago

The Fortune Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night has been able to come to fruition thanks to the exciting collaboration with the University of Otago and the Fortune. This sees eleven Theatre Studies students taking on a number of intern roles within the production: assistant director, stage manager, 2 set designers, 3 actors, theatre management, wardrobe, lighting and education.

The partnership between the Fortune Theatre and the University began in 2015 with a collaboration formed around the play Punk Rock. Following the success of that production, it was decided the programme would run again in 2017, this time revolving around the Shakespeare classic Twelfth Night.

The students have been working on the show in their various capacities since February. For Beth Waite, Stage Management intern, working on the production has been an extension of work she has done for past university papers, noting how the Theatre Technology paper had provided her with a good base for the role. For her, this really cements what young theatre makers learn as they grow up: that there are so many more facets to the theatre than just acting. There are so many ways to get involved in what she describes as “this weird and wonderful, crazy world” and this collaboration has allowed many of the interns to get a taste of what those are.

Kate Johnstone, Orion Carey-Clark and Shaun Swain are the student actors joining the professional company. A highlight for them has been working through such a “positive, funny, energetic process” with an amazing team of actors; to quote Kate, there is “some serious skill in that room”. Working with Ben Henson, Twelfth Night’s Director, has been a huge part of their experience. He is a director who is “in the world with you”, one hundred percent invested in the play and in the actors. His preparation and dedication to mining the details of the play has taught the actors so much about the work that goes into staging a production, with Shaun noting that it sets a “personal bar to strive for”.

Intern Sam Farr has been involved with the Fortune’s Education Programme, helping to put together education packs to make the show experience “dynamic and engaging” for the large number of high schools that will view the show as part of their school curriculum. Sam has found it very rewarding to work in a professional environment where his input has been considered and valued.

The collaboration between the Fortune Theatre and the University of Otago has provided the students with a way to gain work experience in the industry, learning hands-on that can only come from being alive and in the moment. They have been given a taste of just how much there is to learn, but have also gained the confidence to go out and learn those things.

Written by Amy Wright, theatre management intern

Front row, left to right: Sam Farr, Shaun Swain, Ariana Robertson, Shannon van Rooijen, Kate Johnstone, Beth Waite
Back row, left to right: Nina Murnane, Zoe Connor, Dominic Houlihan, Amy Wright, Orion Carey-Clark
Photo Philippa Crick of Cre8ive Marketing