January 12, 2007

Actor Louise Petherbridge Honoured

The Globe Theatre, under the auspices of Globe stalwarts Brian and Rosemary Beresford, hosted a ceremony last month to celebrate the work of actor and director Louise Petherbridge. Many of Dunedin’s theatre workers attended the party, which recognised all Louise has done for the arts in Dunedin in the thirty-three years since her return to her hometown after twenty years as an actor in England. Among the guests were Bernard Esquilant and William Menlove, who operated The Southern Players in the days when Louise toured to New Zealand in roles such as Hedda Gabler.

Louise was able to lend her talents to the Fortune Theatre in its infancy, and many were eager to recall her stunning performance as Katherine Mansfield in The Two Tigers in 1974. She has remained the patron of the Globe Theatre, and has had an extraordinarily full theatrical career, directing, designing, acting, lecturing, devising and scripting for film, opera, and theatre. In 2000 she was honoured with the QSO.

Told only to be sure to ‘dress fancy’ for the annual end-of-year function, Louise was suitably surprised to find the theatre, still set for Season’s Greetings, decorated with photographs, reviews and costumes from her thirty-three years in NZ theatre. Old friends and colleagues presented scenes from plays Louise had directed or performed in, and she found herself recreating roles ranging from Nurse in Romeo and Juliet (with Rawiri Paratene and Vivian Laube) to Auntie in Auntie and Me(with Jeremy Elwood, directed by Lisa Warrington), and yet another Aunt in Travels with my Aunt  (directed by Hilary Norris).

Her influence is sure to continue for many years; it is impossible to imagine the Dunedin theatre scene without Louise Petherbridge.

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