A tale of heroes told by masters

Press Release – Fortune Theatre Company

Fortune Theatre is very excited to have secured two of New Zealand’s biggest and most enduring performing arts names for its second show of 2018.

Dunedin’s own Shayne P Carter and New Zealand icon Michael Hurst will bring An Iliad, written by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, to life on the Fortune’s stage.

An Iliad is part gig and part play, with Mr Carter composing the score, in between writing a memoir from his home in Aramoana, and Mr Hurst lending his renowned Shakespearean heft as the man at the bar, telling the story of his life.

Fortune Theatre Director Jonathon Hendry says, “After the sell-out response to That Bloody Woman, it became clear that Dunedin enjoys epic stories spiced-up with rock music, humour and politics. An Iliad has the energy and directness of a damn good night at the pub – a night where you drink in great sounds and stories with your local brew. Having two heroic performers hitting the stage amped and fired up by the material is really exciting.”

The performance will include periods of improvisation where the two cast members will riff off each other’s mood and presence on stage, creating a different performance each night.

Mr Hendry says, “We’re bringing some fresh thinking to our 2018 season, which includes offering our audiences new ways of experiencing theatre. An Iliad will be a production like none the Fortune has produced before.”

This also includes gauging some of the reasons people don’t attend theatre, which include financial as well as physical accessibility and of course content. Mr Hendry says he was gratified with the response to the public preview for current show Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense and so this will be available for all shows now.

“People said they came for two reasons – because they got to see the show before it opened, a sneak peek if you like, but also because of the $20 tickets. It removed the financial barrier for them and making theatre accessible to our community is one of our key areas of focus this year. It’s great to see this experiment worked so well.”

An Iliad opens at the Fortune Theatre on Saturday 7th April, and runs until Saturday 21st. The public preview for An Iliad will be at 7.30pm on Friday 6th April.

Key dates

6th April – Public preview | 7th April – Opening night | 21st April – Closing night


Michael Hurst

Michael Hurst was born on September 20, 1957 in Lancashire, England. He was eight years old when his family moved to Christchurch, New Zealand where he attended Papanui High School. He has three younger brothers: Mark, Stuart, and Nicholas (half-brother).

Michael began getting involved in school drama projects when he was about fourteen, developing an interest in everything from acting and directing to painting sets. When he was nineteen, after a year at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, he joined the Court Theatre on a two-year training programme.

At twenty-two he was accepted into Theatre Corporate in Auckland. He was there for seven years, ending up as Chair in 1985. He joined the Mercury Theatre, performing in or directing over twenty plays there between 1982 and 1991. In 1987 he became the first New Zealand actor to be contracted to Australia when he won the role of D’Artagnan in the Melbourne Theatre Company production of The Three Musketeers.

By the early nineties Michael had become something of a Shakespearian authority in New Zealand, both interpreting and teaching the works of the bard. In 1991 he was a co-founder of the Watershed Theatre, and in 2003 became co-founder and Artistic Director of The Large Group.

In 1993 he was the first actor cast for the Renaissance Pictures production of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, in which he starred for six years as Iolaus, Hercules’ sidekick and best friend.

As both actor and director, he has a very long list of theatre, film, television, and radio work to his name. He has received awards for both acting and directing, as well as the prestigious Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand and an appointment as Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit “for services to film and the theatre”. He is Chair of the AUSA Outdoor Shakespeare Trust.

Michael is happily married to award-winning New Zealand actress Jennifer Ward-Lealand, and they have two sons, Jack Louis Ward Hurst (born 25 January 1997) and Cameron Lane Ward Hurst (born 2 December 1999). He and Jennifer are the Patrons of The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC), and in 2005 became Champions of Auckland’s New Theatre Initiative (now Q Theatre). In 2010 they were named the Patrons of Q Theatre.

Michael’s skills include acting, directing, writing, dancing, and singing, and stage fight and fencing choreography. He was also a fencing champion.

Shayne P Carter

Shayne Carter is a Dunedin musician and songwriter/composer who has recorded and toured internationally for three decades. He first emerged in the original wave of Flying Nun Dunedin Sound bands in the 1980s and has been the chief songwriter, vocalist and guitarist for such bands as Dimmer, Straitjacket Fits, Doublehappys and Bored Games.

His work has been released on a variety of international labels including Arista, Rough Trade, Sub Pop, Sony and Flying Nun.

He has been the recipient of many New Zealand Music Awards including best vocalist, group and album and Bnet awards for most outstanding musician and best album.

He is a member of the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame and received a Bnet Lifetime Achievement Award from then Prime Minister Helen Clark in 2008.

Known as a creatively restless artist, Shayne has continued to diversify to the present day and in the last year alone has been the musical director for the Apra Silver Scroll Awards held in Dunedin for the first time last September, toured Asia playing live guitar with Atamira Dance Company, performed in a two man show with Don McGlashan that debuted at the Auckland Arts Festival, special guested on Bic Runga’s Drive 20th anniversary tour, played a string of solo dates through Australasia, performed sets with his improv band with members of the Dead C and just recently a special retrospective show with his former bands Dimmer and Straitjacket Fits played to sold out audiences in Auckland. His latest album Offsider an album written exclusively on piano – an instrument he’d never played before – was a finalist for the 2017 Taite Prize.

In between all this, he has been working on a memoir while based at Aramoana at the head of Otago Harbour.

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