Great-grandmother’s ‘death’ inspires play
When Sophie Dingemans heard the story of her greatgrandmother Grace, she knew it had to be told.
In 1907 Grace Oakeshott faked her own death in London and eloped to New Zealand with the man she loved.
More than a century later, Sophie is bringing her family’s story to life in the play, Grace, opening this month at the Basement.
“I’m really passionate and driven about it,” says Sophie.
She says ever since she first heard the story at the age of 10, she has wanted to tell it.
“I thought it was an amazing story. I’ve always been really inspired by it and thought it was very bold and courageous.”
The story is set in London where Grace and her husband were heavily involved in Fabian socialist society.
In 1907 Grace faked her own death to elope with her lover, Wa lter, and spare her family the shame a divorce would have meant.
Sophie says the move was even braver because at age 35, Grace was not young and had much to lose.
“She was a mature and accomplished woman who had a lot to give up.”
Sophie worked on the play as part of her masters degree in theatre studies at Auckland University, researching about London at the turn of the century.
She says there is so much that intrigues her about the story.
“It brings up so many questions of what is moral and truthful behaviour.”
When asked how Grace faked her death, Sophie is not giving anything away.
“You’ll have to come and see the play.”
Founder of The Rebel Alliance theatre company Anders Falstie-Jensen has worked with Sophie producing the play and streamlining the script.
He says he immediately knew the story had a lot of potential.
“If somebody gives you an opportunity like that, you’ve got to go for it.”
He says the fact that it is a true story makes it even more fascinating.
“Maybe it’s something that, every once in a while, we all wish we had the courage to do.”
Grace has just fi nished a sellout fi rst season in Wellington, and runs at the Basement Theatre from September 15 to 20.
Tickets are $20 to $25 from www.the-edge.co.nz.
B ro u g h t t o l i fe :
Sophie Dingemans is br inging the stor y of her great- grandmother’s fake d d e a t h t o t h e s t a g e.