Playwrights kept afloat

Dramatised reading . . . Kim Morgan (left) and Mac Veitch appear in a reading of The Swan of Tuonela, part of the 4X4 programme in 2017. PHOTO: SUPPLIEDMentoring programme . . . Working together on the 4X4 Emerging Playwrights project are (from left) Shannon van Rooijen, Ruth Carraway, Emily Duncan, Feby Idrus and Kerry Lane. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A Dunedin playwriting mentorship programme has survived the collapse of the Fortune Theatre, thanks to the generosity of friends.

Created seven years ago by then Fortune artistic director Lara Macgregor, and developed further by Jonathon Hendry, the 4X4 Emerging Playwrights’ Initiative was threatened by the theatre’s closure earlier this month.

However, with some quick work from Dunedin-based playwright and mentor Emily Duncan and ex-Fortune staff members Shannon Colbert and Jordan Dickson, the initiative has found a new home at Allen Hall Theatre and will go ahead this weekend.

Each year, four playwrights are given 10 weeks’ mentorship, at no cost, with a professional playwright and the resources of the theatre.

The resulting short plays are then staged by a team of professional actors and directors.

Contacted by The Star, Dickson said the 4X4 Emerging Playwrights’ Initiative was eight weeks into its 10-week programme when the Fortune closed its doors.

“We have been incredibly lucky to have the generous support of other local arts organisations, including Arts Festival Dunedin, the New Athenaeum Theatre, Allen Hall and King Edward Court, allowing the project to go ahead,” Dickson said.

This means that months of work by four emerging Dunedin playwrights, Feby Idrus, Kerry Lane, Shannon van Rooijen and Ruth Carraway, under the guidance of Emily Duncan, will come to fruition this weekend with the staging of four 15-minute productions.

The 4X4 programme was made possible through Creative New Zealand funding, via Fortune Theatre until May 1. The 4X4 team is now looking for further funding of about $4500 to cover the remaining costs for this year’s programme and help secure its future.

“The 4X4 initiative is both an incredible support for emerging playwrights, and a means of helping more experienced playwrights to develop dramaturgy [script advising] skills,” Dickson said.

“This Dunedin programme is unique in New Zealand, and we need to make sure it continues.”

The performances will be held this Saturday and Sunday from 7pm at Allen Hall Theatre. Open to the public, all tickets $5.