Hi, I'm Renee Maurice. You may know me as the winner of New
Zealand's Got Talent 2013. I've had a big interest in music for
many years and in 2006, I decided to write a musical. I did some
research, looking for interesting stories and ideas and I stumbled
across the story of the Seacliff Mental Hospital fire that
changed my life.
Now I'm inviting anyone who has a personal interest, or
involvement with mental and psychiatric health, or anyone who would
be interested in getting behind a historical and exciting musical
production, to donate.
On the 8th of December, 1942, a fire took place at Seacliff
Mental Hospital in Dunedin. 39 women were locked inside the ward
which burned to the ground - 37 of those women perished. At the
time, it was the worst fire disaster in New Zealand, until the
Ballantynes Fire in 1947 which killed four more people. I continued
my research into the Seacliff fire, and became more and more
appalled at the circumstances around it. I went to school the day
after first reading about it and asked my history teacher if he
knew anything about it - he had never heard of it. I asked several
other people who'd "been around a while", and they too had never
heard of the tragedy. What began as a desire to tell a story
through drama and music became a crusade to expose a terrible and
tragic event in our Nation's history.
Now, after leaving school to devote my time to writing the play
and spending 8 years researching, conversing with people involved
and tweaking the script, the play has reached a standard which I
deem ready for stage, and so, this December, I, along with a
talented group of Otago performers, will be premiering the musical
at the Westpac Mayfair Theatre in Dunedin. The show will run for 4
performances, from the 5th-8th of December, closing on the 73rd
anniversary of the fire.
I have put a deposit down on the beautiful Mayfair theatre, I
have booked a rehearsal space and I have sound/lighting and
marketing all set up. I have a play, a very important musical play
which I am hoping will not only allow these women to properly rest
after more than seven decades, but will shine a light on the
atrocities of mental health - emphasizing how far we have come but
how far we have yet to go.
This is such an important message that needs to be spread. I,
and the ladies of ward 5, along with many other mental health and
psychiatric patients around New Zealand, thank you so
wholeheartedly for your support.
Help me tell an important story!
20 MONTHS AGO