Invitation - The 50th Anniversary New Fortune Lecture-Performance: ‘Fortune Tellers: Shakespeare and Dorothy Hewett’
As part of ongoing celebrations for the 50 year anniversary of the Arts Faculty Building and the New Fortune Theatre at The University of Western Australia, we invite you to this free special lecture-performance by acclaimed director Aarne Neeme.
Aarne will share some of his thoughts and conclusions regarding the use of the Fortune as a playing area, and illustrate them with selections entitled Fortune Tellers: Shakespeare and Dorothy Hewett, performed by actors from various works.
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions Faculty of Arts, The University of Western Australia
In the summer of 1967/8, Rex Cramphorn and Aarne Neeme accompanied Phillip Parsons as assistants on his Festival production of Richard III in the New Fortune Theatre. It was Neeme’s first journey to Perth, and he was absolutely smitten by the Fortune’s vast open playing area and its stadium-like actor-audience relationship. Shakespeare, like any competent playwright, was fully conversant with the staging possibilities and conventions of his time, and this venue was like a palette to an artist for Elizabethan stagecraft. Neeme was excited about gaining insights into the structure and intended visual effects of his plays and how the use of this space would illuminate Shakespeare’s intentions. During this initial visit, he also had the good ‘fortune’ to meet Dorothy Hewett, and to strike up a rapport with her. She had an office in the English Department overlooking the New Fortune and was likewise fascinated by its possibilities. In the course of time, he had the honour of directing four of her plays there, most notably The Chapel Perilous (1971). While he has staged only two other Shakespearean plays in the New Fortune – Antony and Cleopatra (1974), with Robin Nevin and Arthur Dignam, and The Taming of the Shrew (1986), with John Bell and Anna Volska – the unique stage has fully informed the production of 10 other plays he has directed, tackling them in a variety of other venues.
Biography of Aarne Neeme
Aarne Neeme started his professional career in 1962 as a dancer in a pantomime at Melbourne's Tivoli Theatre. He then joined Wal Cherry's Emerald Hill Theatre, where he learned the ropes of acting.
In an attempt to postpone conscription, he attended Australia's first School of Drama at UNSW and, as a consequence of his undergraduate productions, was appointed Resident Director of the then newly built Octagon Theatre, 1969-71.
Later work in Perth included being Artistic Director of the National Theatre at the Playhouse, 1973-7; Head of the Theatre Department at WAAPA, 1985-9; and Artistic Director at the Hole-in-the-Wall, 1990-1. He has directed some 300 plays, covering both the classical and contemporary repertoire, and specialising in new writing; he has worked for most major theatre companies across Australia, and in New Zealand and Singapore. He has also taught in vocational and academic institutes; and since 2001, he has been involved in directing television drama, including Blue Heelers, All Saints, MDA, Neighbours and Home and Away.
In 2013, Neeme was conferred an Order of Australia for his contribution as a director and teacher in theatre and television.