Miss Jean Batten
Part of WTF! Women’s Theatre Fetsival
7 – 11 March
Jean Batten, was not only one of the finest pilots of her time but also an exceptional navigator. Her 1936 flight from England to New Zealand in a single engine plane made of wood and fabric navigating with a map, a compass and a watch must be one of the extraordinary feats of the last century. Her record for the flight stood for 44 years.
Utterly fearless she flew at a time when pilots regularly disappeared without a trace. She was unquestionably brave, unswervingly determined and at the height of her fame she was one of the most celebrated women in the world. But despite her high public profile she carefully guarded her privacy.
Miss Jean Batten is a solo show written by Phil Ormsby and performed by Alex Ellis about New Zealand’s legendary Aviatrix.
In June 2014 Phil wrote a first draft of Miss Jean Batten at Playmarket’s ‘Writers Retreat’ for a 40 minute solo performance at La Mama Theatre in Melbourne, Australia, as part of their ‘Explorations Season’ in October 2014.
The staging was simple, a chair on a bare stage, enhanced by a basic soundtrack (and Jean in her PJ’s)
Feedback from the Explorations season was great. It confirmed for us that the show needed to be a solo performance (Jean’s greatest exploits were achieved on her own) and that even though her whole life was fascinating it was her record breaking flight from England to New Zealand that really captured people’s imaginations.
Once Alex had completed her research…
Miss Jean Batten premiered at The Basement theatre in Auckland in March 2016 directed by Amanda Rees, set designed by John Parker, costume by Elizabeth Whiting, sound by Thomas Press and lighting by Ruby Reihana-Wilson.
“This is a gem of a show” Alex Bonham, Whats Good Blog
“It’s a star performance, one that the legend that is Jean Batten more than deserves.” Sam Brooks, Pantograph Punch
“a brilliant one-hour cameo performance.” John Daly-Peoples, NBR
We’ve since performed in the Aviation Hall at MOTAT
At the Nelson Arts Festival and the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival and now Circa.
Miss Jean Batten is a joyous celebration of an independent woman who pursued her ambition with unqualified success despite being judged and patronised because of her gender. She was someone who didn’t always fit neatly into the box society placed her in but she seems to have lived exactly the life she wanted.
Most of all, it’s about capturing the spirit of Jean Batten, New Zealand’s most famous Aviatrix. It’s a story of success against enormous odds and one that will resonate with every kiwi.