Great-grand­mother’s ‘death’ in­spires play

Central Leader - - News - B y J o c e ly n R e i n

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.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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