Chance to form new theatre structure

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A new approach to professional theatre in Dunedin looks set to rise from the ashes, in the wake of the Fortune Theatre closure.

At a special general meeting of the Fortune Theatre Trust last week, attended by about 30 people, the resolution was passed to wind up the trust and appoint liquidators Insolvency Management Ltd.

The meeting was attended by representatives of Stage South, which is leading a series of hui in which the wider Dunedin theatre community can discuss a way forward.

Stage South member Karen Elliot said the group was storing the costumes from the Fortune, and was in the process of forming a charitable trust.

“We have had three very well-attended hui since the Fortune Theatre closed, where there has been a massive amount of information gathered,” Ms Elliot said.

“There is a huge willingness [in the theatre community] to generate and create and find outlets.”

The aim of Stage South was not to take on running theatre in Dunedin, but to help, empower, promote, and enable theatre in the city, she said.

Fellow Stage South member Stephen Kilroy said the group recognised there was an opportunity now to form a new, modern structure for theatre in the city that was better than the old.

“The process of discussion has been very positive, democratic, and very careful, because this could could last for the next 44 years,” he said.

“It is important that we make theatre sustainable for practitioners and audiences in Dunedin, Otago, and Southland.”

Friends of the Fortune vice-chairman Andy Leishmann said the group would now hold its own meetings to decide whether to go into recess or to disband.

“These are sad times for the Friends [group], which has been going for as long as the theatre,” Mr Leishmann said.

“However, there are a lot of people out there who still want to do something with theatre, so we will be keeping that in mind.”