Dame Kate Harcourt in Taranaki
Fresh from a successful revival of her Flowers from My Mothers Garden at Wellington’s Downstage Theatre in September, actor Dame Kate Harcourt took her family story to Taranaki.
Thanks to the initiatives of the Inglewood Branch NZSG and The Taranaki Electricity Trust Cue Theatre, appeared in Kapiti Genealogy’s 2012 “Why You Are You” production Virtues from The Past, sharing a journey through time with stories of her ancestors, her family and her life. This show had a successful season in the Wellington Region as part of Family History Month in August.
Photo courtesy of Angela Vidal photography
Dame Kate was born in Amberley, Canterbury and has a fascinating family history, much of which was told in Flowers which first showed in the New Zealand Festival of The Arts in a 1998 play and which is currently being filmed. In Virtues from the Past she celebrates the tenacity of her ancestors, recalls her early years training as a singer, broadcaster and actor, and highlights some of her theatre performances. Dame Kate worked with Kapiti’s production and research team to script this great family story.
She has appeared in numerous New Zealand theatre productions, films and TV shows and has also worked extensively in radio. In 1996 she was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contribution to theatre. Dame Kate is the mother of actress Miranda Harcourt and Fair Go TV presenter Gordon Harcourt. She is NZ’s oldest working actor and was recently awarded first prize in the Best Female Actor category of the 2011 Rhode Island International Film Festival, for her role as Grace, a spritely rest home resident, in the short Kiwi film Pacific Dreams. She is also remembered by many for her radio show “Listening with Mother”, a programme for pre-schoolers.
Dame Kate can lay claim to two very large Scottish clans, the Cameron’s and the Macfarlane’s, and another Scottish family, the Fulton’s. Her English line comes from her mother through the Austin family who emigrated to Australia .
Set around the breakfast table in a farmhouse, Dame Kate talks to friends of this intertwining of families from the social upheavals of Scotland and England, stories of hardship, perseverance, cruelty, kindness, failures and successes.
Virtues from the Past shows at TET Cue Theatre, Inglewood, Sunday December 2 at 2pm and 7.30pm; bookings at Inglewood Book Centre, 06 756 7032 from Nov 1.