1862 ‘Jura’ ship trip experience

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Prepare to go back to 1862 at Toitu Early Settlers Museum.

The museum has launched a new interactive theatre experience where museum-goers become passengers on the ship Jura travelling from Scotland to Dunedin.

Toitu production co-ordinator Rua McCallum said the experience, called “Journey of the Jura“, was a trial but if it went well it could be used to tell other stories in the museum.

“The characters that we have got available to us in terms of living history is enormous,” she said.

“There’s a whole lot of potential with this and this is just a wee taste of the door that we could open.”

The story was based on a real voyage and featured extracts from a traveller’s journal.

Character hosts Sophie Graham and Sam Shannon interact with the passengers during the 30 to 40-minute journey, staying in character the whole time.

“They won’t be breaking character for anything.”

Priscilla Porter will play the part of a customs officer.

Ms McCallum said the idea was to create a cultural tourism product aimed at cruise ship passengers, but it was also open to Dunedin residents.

Museum director Anya Tate-Manning said the character hosts were based on female migrants who came to New Zealand, many of whom were looking for work.

“During the 1860s about 12,000 women were brought over from the United Kingdom because there was a massive shortage [of them in New Zealand].”

The experience takes place in a ship exhibit in the museum and will be open for about two weeks.

Dramaturg and researcher Emily Duncan said she hoped people would “go along with the journey”.

“Forget that it’s 2018 out here and just sink .. into this world.”