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12:16  Retiring NZ Film Commission CEO Annabelle Sheehan

Annabelle Sheehan

Annabelle Sheehan Photo: supplied

Recently the Chair of Te Tuma Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission, Dame Kerry Prendergast, announced that CEO Annabelle Sheehan would step away from the role, after three years leading the agency.

Annabelle has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer over the past six months, and has decided to return home to Australia, complete her treatment there, and focus on her family. 

When Annabelle took over the Film Commission three years ago, she had no idea quite how tumultuous those years were going to be for the industry,  for the country - and for her personally.

In a year of a global pandemic, and the illness that forced her to leave the job early, it was also one of the most successful 12 months our film industry has had in years - from the Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit to box office hits Savage, Six60, Baby Done and Cousins.  

Simon Morris talks to Annabelle Sheehan about a momentous three years.


12:39  Fifty years of the Court Theatre

Christchurch's Court Theatre has outlived all the other first professional theatres set up on New Zealand.  It proudly celebrates its 50th birthday on the 21st of April.

Felicity Price, a long time patron and board member,is the perfect person to write the account of the much loved theatre.   It follows the Court from its origins, to its numerous different homes over the decades, to some of its most memorable actors and productions.

50 Years of the Court Theatre includes dozens of interviews with people who've been on stage and behind the scenes. That includes long time Artistic Director Elric Hooper.

Lynn Freeman talks to Felicity and to Derek Hargreaves, whose own account of his 47 years as secretary to the Court Theatre Trust forms the backbone of the book.  He talks about working alongside the Court's two founders, Yvette Bromley and Mervyn Thompson.

The History of the Court Theatre is published by Caxton. 

1:10 At The Movies

Simon reviews Cold War thriller, The courier, the sequel to Peter Rabbit, and actioner Nobody.


1:31  A girl called Lily 

"I want to prove that people with Down syndrome can do anything."

That's Lily Harper's mission. She's an award winning actor from Palmerston North who's starring in Up Down Girl, directed by Nathan Mudge.

They've adapted it from British writer Sue Shield's play Up Down Boy.

Lily's version tells the story of 19 year old Mattie as she prepares to move out of home for the first time.

The 'Best Emerging Actor' at last year's Central Regional Theatre Awards dreams of touring the play around the country, and is starting with Wellington.

Ultimately she wants the cast of Shortland Street to come see it, not only as a devoted fan of the TV series but because it was a hurtful scene from the show that made her determined to challenge stereotypes surrounding the condition.

Lynn Freeman talks with Lily and with director Nathan Mudge.  Up down girl opens at Wellington's Circa Theatre on the 20th of April.   


1:50  Tales from the back of the painting

What's on the back of a painting can tell as story as fascinating as what's on the front.

There are not only the obvious - signatures and labels - but all kinds of other tantalising clues.

Three New Zealand art conservators have gathered more than 30 of their favourite paintings where what's on the back - even what the back's made from -  have either solved or posed mysteries.

These rear view stories are collected in a new book, The Back of the Painting,  by Linda Waters from Te Papa, Sarah Hillary who's based at Auckland Art Gallery and Jenny Sherman who's at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Lynn Freeman talks with Linda, Sarah and Jenny about how the idea for the book came about.

The Back of the Painting is published by Te Papa Press.

2:06 The Laugh Track - Kirsty Hardwicke

Kirsty Hardwicke

Kirsty Hardwicke Photo: supplied

This is the season when we can expect that comedy highlight of the year - the star-studded New Zealand Comedy Festival.  We love seeing our own favourites, of course, but we're mostly there for the big international names.  Usually.

This time though it's almost all home-grown talents, thanks to Covid and travel restrictions.   So that puts even more pressure on the organisers - the New Zealand Comedy Trust - to find a way to put, shall we say, familiar wine in new bottles.

It seems to be a challenge they relish.  Talking to Lynn Freeman is today's Laugh Track guest - representing the team - Festival And Event Producer, Kirsty Hardwicke.  

Kirsty's picks include Two Hearts, James Nokise, Melanie Bracewell and Pax Assadi.


2:25  The Hall - a small story told by a big choir

A small town family story about dementia and the healng power of music - performed with a mass community choir! - is the new offering from the team behind the play and movie Daffodils

Alison cares for both her daughter Billie and mother Tup who has advanced frontotemporal dementia.  Billie comes across a YouTube video that leads the family to search for a mass choir.

Playwright Ro Bright and director Kitan Petkovski have worked with New York based composer Pat Irwin on the original songs.  They will be performed by a choir made up of Voices Aotearoa NZ and locally-sourced community singers at the premiere at the upcoming Festival of Colour in Wanaka.

Ro explains to Lynn Freeman that the idea for The Hall has been kicking around for a few years:

The Hall premieres at the Wanaka Festival of Colour on the 15th of April. 

2:40  Catherine Robertson and the Gabriel's Bay trilogy

Catherine Robertson

Catherine Robertson Photo: Photo Russell Kleyn

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Photo: supplied


The fictional New Zealand seaside town of Gabriel's Bay is the setting for a third novel by Hawkes Bay based author Catherine Robertson.

The central theme explored in Spellbound is power, from family violence to factions that can emerge within a small community.

There is a large cast of characters in the book, so you have to keep your wits about you as a reader.

Catherine sets the scene for Lynn Freeman and talks about the many characters in the trilogy.

Spellbound is published by Black Swan.


2:50  Students from Nelson Marlborough writing diploma publish an anthology

Carol Neilson

Carol Neilson Photo: supplied

Jenni  Komarovsky

Jenni Komarovsky Photo: supplied


It's been a tough year for numerous creative writing and publishing tertiary courses around the country.

Last year was the last for budding writers at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.   Even then, for part of the year they were confined to their homes because of the pandemic.

It did however offer them time to write.

Since 2017, students on the course have had their work published on the Nelson online literary and arts journal.   It's called, after Admiral Nelson's famous last words!

In a fitting tribute to the now-defunct course and its past students, highlights from those years are being published in book form, in an anthology called The Space Between. 

Lynn Freeman talks to two of those involved, Carol Neilson  and Jenni Komarovsky.   :


3:06 Drama at 3 - Deep Vein Thrombosis by Mel Johnston and Rochelle Savage

In this romantic comedy, Shannon is sick of living in the village that is Wellington.  But just as she plans to ship out, she finds someone who could be worth staying for!