A Fortune to be Found (and Maybe a Ghostie, Too)
New Zealand’s southern-most professional venue, the Fortune Theatre is your last chance for performing arts before you fall off the planet. All the world might be a stage, but the Fortune is a stage at the end of the world. It’s nothing but penguins from here on, folks, and their acting is rubbish.
With its rose window, copper-topped bell tower and tiny-castle-for-a-tiny-king white stone stitching, not only is it one of the most beautiful of architect Robert A Lawsons’ Victorian masterpieces (RAL was so unappreciated in his lifetime he went back home to England in a sulk), it has possibly the most interesting history. Once the Trinity Methodist Church, dating back to 1869, the trachyandesite (try saying that 5 times fast) and Oamaru stone confection was converted to a theatre in a fabulous reverse switcharoo in 1978, by moustachioed men in polo necks and flares who built the top tier of the theatre’s 227 seats above the former altar, and set the stage where the pews used to be. Grumpier former parishioners where aghast, but soon changed their minds when the theatre began having more world firsts and New Zealand premieres than they’d had hot dinners.
Not long after came tales of spooky voices and phantom audience members. Actors, a people legendary for their sensibleness, talked bumps in the green room. But any theatre worth its salt has a ghost − it’s only natural for places of heightened emotion, of tragedy and comedy, hilarity and contemplation to attract phasmagorical fans. Spirits need top-quality entertainment as much as anyone. They’re just harder to sell a ticket to and always try to sneak an ice cream at interval.
Thankfully, the living patrons of Dunedin have been doing the right thing for four decades now, ensuring the enthusiasm and energy of the founders who bravely favoured Fortune lives on, just as people’s love and belief in the theatre keeps it going.
Don’t be fortune’s fool, share the love yourself at: http://fortunetheatre.co.nz/
Watch Ghost Hunt at the Fortune Theatre: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SSbVJcdf-8
Post submitted by Lisa Scott