Theatre historian finds 'heaven on earth'

 Anna van den Bosch (left) and Catherine Hart are joined by (back, from left) Charlie McArtney, Sarah Williamson, Emily Day and Isabella Chuah in a mask-related class at the University of Otago summer school.
Anna van den Bosch (left) and Catherine Hart are joined by (back, from left) Charlie McArtney, Sarah Williamson, Emily Day and Isabella Chuah in a mask-related class at the University of Otago summer school.
Seeking a change, and disillusioned over gun violence in the United States, theatre historian Dr Kim Axline Morgan has bought a house in Dunedin and plans to raise a family here.

And the American is sharing her ''passion'' for mask-related theatrical performance with University of Otago students through a lively theatre studies paper she is teaching at Otago's latest annual summer school.

Also an actress and director, Dr Axline Morgan (40) recently took early retirement from the University of Denver, in Colorado, where she was an associate professor in theatre and taught for 10 years.

She and husband Matthew Morgan said Dunedin appealed as a university city, with historic buildings and a vibrant theatre and arts scene.

Kim Axline Morgan
Kim Axline Morgan
She had been concerned about recent mass shootings in the US and the associated highly-polarised political debate. Two of those shootings - at a cinema screening of Batman last July, and the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 - were in the Denver area.

Adding to Dunedin's appeal was its closeness to nature, with the sea lapping near their Otago Peninsula house.

''It's heaven on earth to us.''

She and her husband had moved to New Zealand as residents last September.

''We plan to make Dunedin our life-long home and raise a family in our new house in Broad Bay.

''We love the city, which reminds us of the college towns we each grew up in.''

The theatre faculty and community were ''talented, diverse and quite welcoming of us as kindred spirits'', she said.

Dr Axline Morgan said the ''Mask and Scenario'' paper was her ''first offering'' at Otago and ''hopefully not my last''.

Otago student Catherine Hart (20) said the paper was ''incredibly interesting'' and she also enjoyed her teacher's enthusiasm. Fellow student Anna van den Bosch (22) said the paper was ''absolutely fantastic''.

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