Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland

06/06/2017 - 17/06/2017

Community Gallery, 20 Princes St, Dunedin

21/09/2018 - 23/09/2018

Suter Theatre, Nelson

20/10/2018 - 21/10/2018

MTG Century Theatre, 1 Tennyson St, Napier

25/10/2018 - 25/10/2018

BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

30/10/2018 - 03/11/2018

Repertory House, 167 Esk Street, Invercargill

01/05/2019 - 02/05/2019

Southland Festival of the Arts 2019

Dunedin Arts Festival 2018

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2018

Nelson Arts Festival 2018

Production Details


Roastbusters. Scott Kuggeleijn. The boasting around sexual assault at Wellington College. And an American president who has bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy” without their consent. We’re not short of reminders that there is a problem with rape culture and the value of consent in our society.

Presented at Q Theatre from June 6 – 17, Jane Doe seeks to open conversation about these issues through the collective reading of a trial transcript from a rape case. Written and directed by Eleanor Bishop (BOYS, The Intricate Art of Actually Caring) and led by performer Karin McCracken, the court case is interwoven with reflections about sexuality and consent from young people across America and New Zealand, as well as providing participatory opportunities for the audience – volunteers stand in for lawyers and witnesses, and are invited to respond directly to the performance as it happens, through text messaging.

Jane Doe began during Eleanor’s Masters in Fine Arts in Directing at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama in Pittsburgh. It has evolved through 65 interviews with young people from multiple college campuses in the United States, as well as New Zealanders this year. After previewing at this year’s Auckland Fringe, Jane Doe was seen by a visiting programmer from Assembly Roxy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and will be travelling to Edinburgh for a month long season in August this year as part of NZ at Edinburgh 2017, supported by Creative New Zealand. The upcoming Q Theatre season will greatly assist in covering the costs of this presentation in Edinburgh.

On top of her recent work in America, Eleanor Bishop has most recently written and co-directed BOYS, a feminist reworking of Foreskin’s Lament for Auckland Theatre Company’s youth oriented Here & Now Festival, and is currently also in rehearsal on an adaptation of Othello for UNITEC’s acting programme. Prior to her work in America, Eleanor worked in New Zealand as a freelance director, and co-director of acclaimed New Zealand theatre company The PlayGround Collective, whose works Like There’s No Tomorrow and The Intricate Art of Actually Caring have toured New Zealand.

The performance is led by Karin McCracken, a Wellington based theatre-maker and specialist educator for the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, a non-governmental organisation that provides primary prevention sexual violence training.

“Beautifully and innovatively expressed – more potent now than ever.” – The Tartan on Jane Doe 

Winner of the Unf*ck the World: Social Impact Award, Auckland Fringe 2017 

Jane Doe is travelling to the Edinburgh Fringe as part of a cohort of shows with Zanetti Productions which also includes Julia Croft’s Power Ballad (Fundraiser: Basement Theatre, Auckland, 6 – 17 June), a suite of three Binge Culture shows and Trick of the Light’s The Road That Wasn’t There (NZ season: Herald Theatre, Auckland, 11 – 15 July).

Jane Doe plays
Q Theatre, 305 Queen Street, Auckland CBD
6 – 17 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: $25 – $30 (Booking fees may apply)
Bookings: www.qtheatre.co.nz or phone Q Theatre 09 309 9771  

Arts Festival Dunedin 
Friday 21 – Sunday 23 Sept, 7.30pm 
Community Gallery 

Nelson Arts Festival 2018
Sat 20 & Sun 21 October 2018
FULL $39 | UNDER 25 $25
SENIOR $35 | GROUP OF 6+ $35
Plus TicketDirect Service Fee

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2018
MTG Century Theatre, Napier
Thu Oct 25th October 2018
Adult:  $40
Concession:  $35
High School Student:  $20
Book Now!   

BATS Theatre, The Random Stage
30 October – 3 November 2018

Southland Arts Festival 2019
Repertory House, 167 Esk Street, Invercargill.
Wed 1 – Thurs 2 May 2019
R16. The show discusses and describes sexual violence.
Adults – $30.00
Under 30’s – $20.00 Persons under 30 years with I/D
Double Bill Deal – $48.00 A single ticket for both Jane Do and My Best Dead Friend
Wheel Chair seating please ring 03 21 87188
Tickets will be sold at the door on the day depending on availability.
Doors open at 5.30pm
Show starts at 6.00pm

Theatre , Solo ,

1 hour

Important conversations incredibly thoughtfully crafted

Review by Alana Dixon-Calder 01st May 2019

Jane Doe could be anybody.  

She could be 16, 14, 22. She could hail from a coastal town in Wales, a nondescript small town in the States, left flailing after the death of the steel industry. She could live in a town tucked in the deep south of New Zealand, a city at the bottom of the world. 

There could be one boy, two. Ordinary boys. They could be anybody.

Jane Doe captures our shared humanity almost immediately: relying on some of the most nostalgic scenes ripped from pop culture, like Noah’s swinging on the Ferris wheel in The Notebook to Drew Barrymore’s downcast gaze in Never Been Kissed; from the plucky strains of ‘Moon River’ as Audrey Hepburn searches frantically for Cat in the rain, or the saccharine strains of ‘Kiss Me’, a song that immediately transports everybody of a certain generation back to posters of Freddie Prinze Jr. lining their bedroom walls. It’s the feeling of your first kiss, the feeling of what we all want and expect love to be.  

Actress Karin McCracken has an easy charm and the audience is quickly tittering gently to her steady banter. But the humour of Jane Doe soon gives way to its stomach-turning premise: a young woman goes to a party and she is raped.

Jane Doe is incredibly thoughtfully crafted and the experience is an immersive one, highlighting how real and prevalent these events are.

The trial transcript, the description of events portrayed in the show, the text messages between witnesses and defendants, are all taken directly from the headlines or closely inspired by true events. Audio from talking heads like Piers Morgan and Megyn Kelly discussing real-life rape trials is horrific.

Members of the audience join McCracken in reading excerpts from a trial transcript that feels all too familiar, and everybody is invited to share their thoughts about what they are viewing live via an online polling system. What could easily feel gimmicky instead adds to the authenticity and the sombre tone of the show.

A single word that pops onscreen, fed in via the live polling, resonates: defeated.

Watching this show makes you feel defeated. Jane Doe is interspersed with footage of women from New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States discussing consent, the sexual empowerment of women, the male gaze, feminism. These are all important conversations but conversations that appear difficult for society – even in 2019 – to have frankly.

Thank goodness for those involved in productions like Jane Doe, and organisations like KIND Women that brought the show to Invercargill, for continuing the conversation – even when it seems too hard. 


Make a comment

Extremely engaging and constructive

Review by John Smythe 31st Oct 2018

“More men need to be in this audience,” someone messages live on screen, via the anonymous response app provided for audience members engaging with Jane Doe at BATS last night. “Where the fuck are they?” Fair question.

Rest assured this presentation offers a very safe and respectful place for women and men to engage with the phenomenon identified (since 2013) as rape culture, and more recently highlighted through the #MeToo movement.

Jane Doe is creatively crafted to be both a very private yet revealingly shared experience: supportive, collegial and reassuring; an invaluable opportunity to review attitudes, values and behaviours concerning sexual relationships. The mutual pleasures to be experienced in consensual love-making are also honoured and valued to counterpoint the case in point. While difficult terrain is traversed, warmth and laughter also permeate the proceedings.

To digress for a moment (except not really):
A few days ago a group of us watched the currently-streaming Netflix documentary Five Foot Two. At one point Lady Gaga speaks to camera about a particular cohort of male record producers: “Those men have so much power that they can have women in a way that no other men can. Whenever they want, whatever they want. The cocaine, the money, the champagne, the girls – the hottest girls you’ve ever seen. And then I walk in the room and it’s like, eight times out of 10, I’m put in that category. And they expect from me what those girls have to offer, when that’s not at all what I have to offer in any way. That’s not why I’m here, I’m not a receptacle for your pain. I’m not just a place for you to put it.”

Pain. Is that what lurks behind the predatory sense of privilege and entitlement that drives rape culture? Perhaps. Peer group pressure plays a part, even for loners who feel excluded from the dominant group. Most males would recognise the times in their lives when their sense of self-esteem is inextricably linked to whether they’re ‘getting any’; whether they ‘score’. Note those objectifying phrases.

In 2013 – the same year the ‘Roast Busters’ scandal hit the headlines in NZ – Jane Doe’s writer/director Eleanor Bishop moved to the USA, “around the time that the issue of sexual assault on campuses was exploding (watch the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘The Hunting Ground’ for more on that).”

Her programme note, co-written with lawyer/ sexual assault prevention educator/ performer Karin McCracken, goes on to define rape culture as “the political and cultural systems that enable sexual violence to go ignored or dismissed in our society – media that sensationalises and normalises sexual violence, media that shows blurring consent as sexy, and a justice system that encourages blaming a victim for being raped. This is all contained in Jane Doe.”

The question of how to address this issue effectively within a theatre space is ingeniously answered by Eleanor Bishop. She first created the format with university students in Pittsburgh and developed it while touring college campuses across the USA. Back home in NZ she teamed up, last year, with Karin McCracken who, like the two performers before her, brings her own perspectives and interviews with other women to the work.

This version of Jane Doe played the Q in Auckland then went to the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2017, “right before #metoo became a rallying cry.” Over the past few weeks it has played the Sydney Fringe, regional arts festivals in Dunedin, Nelson and Hawkes Bay – and now it’s Wellington’s turn. I’m not the first to say it needs to be seen by senior high school students too, and in tertiary institutions everywhere, not to mention sports clubs, business clubs, law firms – and by every police person and judge in the land.

McCracken establishes a relaxed, friendly and convivial mood before stating the premise: “Jane Doe goes to a party. She gets drunk. She blacks out. She is raped.” And before that is explored further McCracken recalls a young woman’s desire to be affirmed with compliments and a kiss, to the romantic strains of ‘Moon River’. The air is alive with empathy.  

It is from this perspective that the exact nature of the event that has been brought to trial begins to be revealed, through excerpts from the court transcript read on mic by audience volunteers. Actual text exchanges between Jane and her friends, and between the perpetrators, are also revealed as evidence.

Intercut with the court proceedings are video-recorded interviews with a range of women, sharing first-hand experiences and observations, both negative and positive, of how it is to move through this world as a woman. Their talking heads appear on screen while McCracken uses the verbatim theatre strategy of listening to their voices on headphones and simultaneously replicating them on mic. Her extraordinary skill at doing this certainly adds ‘entertainment’ value although it may also distract from the substance of what’s being said. Maybe the idea is to keep us all grounded ‘in the room’.

Twice we take a break to digest what we’ve witnessed so far and, if we wish, respond via the aforementioned app. (Instructions for doing this were up on the screen as we arrived and it’s very simply achieved – with a total guarantee that all responses will be anonymous.) The messages displayed express anger, sadness, fatigue, amazement … and the odd comment that produces a laugh; a release of our collective tension.

While clear warnings have been given up front that what follows will necessarily include explicit details of what transpired that night, after the post-match party, the exact nature of the violation is unexpected. And it is all the more powerful for that; for not involving extreme violence. The event is not sensationalised. The focus is clearly on consent, or rather the absence of it. That is the point.

As relevant and relatable as one could want any piece of theatre to be, Jane Doe honours the principle that by distilling the particular the universal can be exposed and explored. Although its main focus is in the heterosexual cis-gendered space, it is hard to imagine anyone being unable to identify with it at some personal level. And the opportunity it gives each of us to expand our understanding of how it is for others is invaluable.  

The extremely engaging hour ends on a very affirmative upbeat. Some people avail themselves of the invitation to stay for a cup of tea and a chat, others move on in groups or alone with plenty to discuss or dwell upon. (The programme includes very clear information of where to get help if anyone needs it.)

If your reaction to the premise of this show has been, “This is not what I go to the theatre for,” I recommend you reconsider. We are all in this ‘conversation’ one way or another and Jane Doe is a very constructive antidote to the sort of media coverage we may rage at in isolation. 


Make a comment

Engaging disabling of denial

Review by Gemma Carroll 26th Oct 2018

Actor/presenter Karin McCracken is inordinately cheerful yet business-like as she greets us and leads us through this frank conversation between player and audience, about rape culture and what it is to be a young woman in this context. I can only assume she does this to put us at ease, as we engage in an uncomfortable but necessary contemplation. Her demeanour is also a stark reminder of the innocent, the bright, fresh-faced female at the centre of the stories depicted in the script.

The male voice is not silent but is depicted as reticent, uncertain, defensive and of course as the offender. 

We are invited to engage directly with the work throughout, by using a web app that allows us to share anonymously, in real time, our thoughts and feelings. These comments are projected onto the large screen, centre-stage. 

Jane Doe is described as a theatre show in the HBAF programme, but it is so much more than that. Audience members are involved in reading from real court transcripts, Verbatim segments provide myriad cultural/ sexual/ gender types, sharing their views and experiences, and our own reactions scroll down the screen, at various break-out moments, throughout the piece. We are asked to participate, from our own truths.

The work does not attempt to provide any answers but poses many questions and the audience comments indicate the range of emotions, thoughts, questions and revelations that are sparked by what is seen and heard on stage: parents concern for their children, young and old relating to what is presented, men expressing shame and frustration at the ‘male gaze’ and rape culture, women expressing helplessness at the trap society holds us in. 

There is gathering horror for many, as brutal scenes are presented to us from real court transcripts of high profile cases and real text messages from evidence, projected onto the screen. To read the text conversations between ‘ordinary’ young men, who have committed a vile act on an unconscious woman, is almost beyond belief, but it is real. To read that they photographed her naked body and each other as they violated her, is enraging.

It does not escape me that the very devices we use to engage with tonight’s discourse, play a huge role in rape culture and the disconnection between social media and reality.

The script also allows space for the truth around what young women really want, what desire feels like, the need to be open, empowered and real about sexuality, sex, lust and falling in love. 

This important work lights a fire in all of us. This is the purpose of the show: to disable our denial.

There are many moving parts, all manoeuvred skilfully by McCracken and her AV technician. The result clearly indicates that this conversation is unavoidable.

We must speak to this, for the sake of our children, for the sake of ourselves.

I congratulate Eleanor Bishop, the creator, and touring team who bring us Jane Doe and provide post-show Q & A, support from local professionals on hand, tea and biscuits and a clear mission to start conversations that are well overdue. Here’s hoping high schools around Āotearoa schedule this in their wellness programmes. Visit www.wearejanedoe.org


Make a comment

Needs to be seen by a younger audience

Review by Melanie Stewart 21st Oct 2018

We all know someone who has been raped, whether we realise it or not. For many women and men of my generation the shame and repercussions of disclosing a sexual assault far out-weighed what was a harrowing process of bringing the perpetrator to justice. Have things changed? I hope so but fear they haven’t.

Jane Doe is a challenging piece which uses Verbatim theatre techniques to investigate rape culture. Much of what we hear is a quote, a court transcript or dialogue transcribed from interviews. The reality of the material makes it all the more thought provoking.

Eleanor Bishop wrote this piece with her colleagues after becoming frustrated and angry at what was happening at their university. It has toured campuses in the USA and had a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe. Bishop does not use high drama to get this message across. It is not written to shock the audience but rather to confront the audience with the facts. There is no blame laid, no one is hung out to dry and there is no offer of any solutions. Just hard reality.

McCracken performs with grace and charm in presenting a young girl’s view on love and romance. Throughout the performance she revisits this young woman as she grows up, kisses her first boy, goes on dates and has her first sexual experience. Contrasting this is the reading of a court transcript that follows a rape case. Audience members are invited to share in the experience by texting their feelings at various moments in the performance and to read part of the transcript. The clever use of voice overs where she mimics the voice and actions of women being interviewed while they are being shown on a screen is inspired.

My main concern for this piece is that I am not sure that the Arts Festival platform is the right place for it. Younger audiences have less access to these performances for numerous reasons and this performance needs to be seen by a younger audience. Augusto Boal once said, “We must all do theatre, to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.” Let our senior high school students see this and it really could make a difference.  


Make a comment

Low-key, thoughtful look at a big problem

Review by Barbara Frame 23rd Sep 2018

They may be young, they may have drunk too much, they may have been assaulted by one person, or more than one. The case may or may not come to court, and a conviction may or may not ensue. The focus is not on how horrible it is to be raped — it’s assumed that the audience understands this to some extent at least — but on the pervasiveness of rape culture, its constant presence in women’s lives, its limiting influence on how those lives are lived, and the silence, indifference and shame that it feeds on. It also encourages reflection on the ways in which it’s nurtured by media influences. [More


Make a comment

Succeeds beyond doubt

Review by Terry MacTavish 23rd Sep 2018

We all have stories. I knew a 14 year old who was raped at a party by a popular boy. Even her friends blamed her for speaking out, for ‘getting him into trouble’. She was forced to leave her school, the hostility was so crushing.  Jane Doe (the generic name to protect those who have been sexually assaulted, as well as unidentified corpses) is a beautifully conceived and executed work that allows us to share our stories, to confront our ugly rape culture, to effect change in our society. 

I admire writer/ director Eleanor Bishop for her crusading spirit as much as for the absolute professionalism of this show. I was privileged to hear her speak to the young actors at the SGCNZUOSW Shakespeare Festival, urging them to see beyond the thrill of merely creating convincing stage violence, to show us Othello’s remorse as well as Desdemona’s murder. I am intrigued to see her own innovative work, in which she has directed actor Karin McCraCken. 

The Community Gallery manages to be at once austere, with a simple raised platform with severe black curtains, and reassuring, with an open hatch for tea and bikkies, representatives of Rape Crisis chatting cosily in the back row, and McCracken herself wandering round putting patrons at their ease. Bishop is here smiling, and even the very efficient technician is friendly. By the time the play starts, we don’t have to be told we are in a safe space.

Jane Doe is actually a rape trial.  Audience members are invited onstage to read the transcript – prosecutor, witness, defence attorney, defendant. In between the interrogations, the screen shows women Bishop has interviewed in New Zealand, Britain, USA, while McCracken speaks their words with fluent accuracy, her physical presence endowing their answers with an immediacy and urgency film could not provide. 

McCracken is a most skilful and engaging performer, and I am especially charmed by her achingly accurate examples of the ridiculous romantic fantasies we all indulge. She tackles the tough stuff uncompromisingly, but many moments are very funny, like her solo mime of a girl dancing with a boy, desperately hoping for – and getting! – her first kiss. The audience giggles knowingly at characters like the frustrated lady begging her lover to “go for the clit! … It just requires a tiny bit of innovation!”

A lawyer and sexual assault prevention educator, McCracken is as much a facilitator as an actor, and a damn good one, as becomes clear when, in a break, members of the audience are encouraged to text their thoughts to her. The honesty of these is a testament to their trust and how affected they have been.  They are shown on the screen. “I am thinking about my friend who did get raped.” “Nervous to put this up, but it really hits home about the disrespectful behaviour I saw and did as a young man.” “I realise how much our culture allows silence to be an accepted response to violence.” 

The Jane Doe trial encompasses every case of sexual assault. “She is 13. Or 22. Or 16. The boys are convicted. Or not. They go to prison where they spend their energy on survival, not on self-reflection. Never forced to consider the underlying beliefs that led to rape. Jane Doe comes to believe it wasn’t her fault. Or she doesn’t. Somewhere else another Jane Doe goes to a party…”

Chilling. But does Jane Doe get the message across without hectoring? The issue seems eternal. Last night I saw Blood of the Lamb: rape in the 50s as a man’s absolute right to establish control over his possession. Then in my youth, the sexual revolution put pressure on us all to swing. We scarcely blamed our boyfriends for rape – it was expected and we were frigid if we didn’t enjoy it. Today’s boys get their idea of love-making from porn videos, and fear they will disappoint their girlfriends if they do not imitate even the most extreme.

I am here with a small group of teenagers who are currently navigating these dangerous waters – how to enjoy being desirable, without being exploited. All are impressed by the show, and feel Jane Doe should be presented in all schools, but most especially boys’ schools, some of which have no sex education classes at all. And girls, they add shyly, are not told anything about pleasure.

If a measure of good theatre is whether you are changed by it, Jane Doe has succeeded beyond doubt with these young women. “It’s not too heavy,” says one, “it’s not aggressive. But it makes you think.” Yet though Bishop has been careful not to sensationalise the sensitive subject matter, the production is anything but dull. Congratulations to the Festival for supporting accomplished work that carries such a powerful social message. Kia kaha, Bishop and McCracken, and Jane Does everywhere.


Make a comment

Powerful critique of rape culture

Review by Ethan Sills 12th Jun 2017

A girl leaves a party with a group of boys, drunk to the point of vomiting and passing out.  

At the home of one of them, she is sexually assaulted and the rape captured on camera; the next morning she wakes up confused and distressed with no memory of what transpired.

This real-life assault lies at the heart of Eleanor Bishop’s powerful new play Jane Doe, a complex and richly layered exploration of rape culture and the influences media has on nurturing it. The experimental, multimedia play opens with a powerful monologue that sets the chilling tone for the intensity of the subject matter to follow. [More


Make a comment

Be Heard

Review by Rachael Longshaw-Park 12th Jun 2017

Eleanor Bishop attended Carnegie Mellon University in America during the ever-growing focus on rape culture. Jane Doe began out of the confusion and anger that Bishop and her peers experienced. Since then, the show has toured campuses in America and grown accordingly with new material and new performers. The Auckland show is tailored specifically for Karen McCracken, and her performance is engaging, skilful and honest.

McCracken is our guide through an hour-long investigation of rape culture. First, she introduces us to her teenage self. We learn about her favourite films (She’s All That, The Notebook) and her idealistic views on love. She describes her first kiss with a boy with spikey hair and combat pants, and the lingering feeling of wanting and being wanted.

Then McCracken introduces Jane Doe’s story. [More


Make a comment

Well-crafted, powerfully performed and immensely important

Review by Leigh Sykes 07th Jun 2017

As I enter the theatre, the usher checks my ticket, hands it back to me and comments, “Enjoy!” As I take my seat, I reflect on the potential incongruity between this greeting and the description of the show as “a public reading of a rape trial transcript”. I am a little apprehensive before the show starts, not really knowing what to expect, but the venue quickly fills up and there is an expectant buzz in the air.

Not long before the show is due to start, Karin McCracken casually walks onto the stage with a water bottle. She waves to some people in the audience, greets some others, sings along to some of the songs that are playing as we wait and is relaxed and alert. As I watch her watching the audience, I notice that the songs we are hearing are by artists such as Katy Perry or Taylor Swift and that they deal with relationships and first love and young love and looking hot. As I listen to these songs, knowing the subject matter of the show, there are moments where I question the perspectives expressed in them, but before I can think too deeply about these, McCracken steps forward and the show begins.

She informs us that she would like to tell us a story about Jane Doe, a girl who went to a party and was raped. The first section of the show sets that story in context, or rather, a number of contexts. With the usher’s comment in the back of my mind, I find that I do enjoy this first section because it is engaging and honest. What I find surprising is that it is also amusing and warm.

We are invited into McCracken’s own world. [To clarify: each version of Jane Doe is developed with the specific performer, incorporating their stories and experiences – and others not experienced by the performer – ed.] She discusses some of her favourite films and actors, alongside observations about feelings that are personal, recognisable and seem in many cases to be shared by the audience.

McCracken is a skilled and empathetic performer and the ease with which she tells her story belies the craft behind it. Bishop’s writing and direction is just as deft, steering a delicate course between empathy and the potential for outrage. 

There is much laughter in this first section of the show, as members of the audience recognise and appreciate elements of themselves in McCracken’s story. However, the section that follows is much less amusing, as we are shown text messages sent by Jane Doe the morning after the party, which she cannot really remember.

It is heartbreaking reading her growing sense of disbelief and despair as she keeps asking why no-one stopped what was happening. This repeated question captures a huge concern about the environment that surrounds stories like the one we are being told, and I am made to consider what circumstances must be in place for someone not to recognise or want to stop something like this happening to another human being.

It is now that the innovative and beautifully crafted nature of the show becomes apparent, as two more strands of story are introduced and woven together. In one strand, McCracken invites audience members to help her read the trial transcript, and in the other, she gives us beautifully observed and recreated verbatim performances of interviews answering questions such as, “Do you feel safe walking around at night?” or, “Are you a feminist?”

The trial transcript is confronting and I applaud those who volunteer to read at this performance. They approach the material with commitment and grace, while McCracken captures the formality and insensitivity (such as witnesses being forced to describe events in specific and technical detail) of the trial perfectly, and this helps me to truly listen to what is being said and to focus on my responses to it.

The verbatim sections offer other perspectives on the general environment that surrounds an event such as the one being described. Some of these perspectives lighten the atmosphere and some of them add to or enhance the feelings that are generated by the trial transcript.

After each section, the audience is given an opportunity to respond (via a live online poll) and share their thoughts about what they have just heard. This sense of communal response is immensely important, as we respond as a unique community to what we have just experienced. We see what our fellow audience members think and feel in real time, and can recognise or share the feelings behind comments such as ‘sad’, ‘hopeless’ or ‘disgusted’. These comments are not discussed, but sharing them feels important and necessary.

As McCracken continues to share her own stories, some moments resonate powerfully and immediately, such as the story of the man who gropes her and then describes himself as the kind of guy who “gets away with” actions like that. It is impossible for me not to hear the echo of Donald J Trump in those words, which sends a shiver of revulsion down my spine. It is powerfully and painfully apparent in moments such as these that events do not happen in isolation: attitudes and events are irrevocably connected.

Each time we are given the opportunity to breathe and to assess our responses to what we hear, a sense of community grows. As people recognise moments from well-known cases, we respond together and the sense of communal contemplation is very powerful.

Someone once told me that the most powerful aspect of live theatre is the conspiracy (literally breathing together) between the performer and the audience. This show creates this special type of conspiracy as we are encouraged and allowed to respond to and think about the material presented.

Jane Doe is not heavy-handed or over-dramatic; it is specific yet restrained and does not hit us over the head with detail or horror; it does not tell us what to think and it does not try to make us feel helpless or hopeless, but it is thought-provoking in the most positive way. This show does not provide answers, but instead opens up the space for a necessary conversation.

In offering us many alternatives for aspects of this story (where, when, who), it allows us to recognise the attitudes and environments that lead to events such as this one. It offers us the opportunity to consider our own current and future actions and attitudes.

This is a well-crafted, powerfully performed and immensely important show. It is timely, it is real and it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council