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''My parents found a mapbook of New Zealand and looked for Dunedin, but it wasn't in there,'' she admitted yesterday.
The 37-year-old American arrived in Dunedin last month with husband, Phil Braithwaite, who is the new University of Otago theatre studies William Evans Teaching Fellow in playwriting.
''I feel like I've won Lotto. It's such an exciting opportunity to work in professional theatre.
''People have such a passion for theatre and live performance and the Fortune is a Dunedin institution that has, over the last few years, really upped the ante in terms of delivering high quality contemporary theatre to local and national audiences,'' she said.
''I am thrilled to be a part of such a unique and vital organisation and look forward to helping sustain its place within the local community and on the national level, too.''
Mrs Thompson worked in theatre, private industry and the government sector in the United States and will be responsible for the commercial operation of the Fortune, working in tandem with artistic director Lara Macgregor.
The theatre has been without a general manager since May, when former-manager Nicholas McBryde resigned to resurrect the Otago Festival of the Arts, after its record loss last year.
Fortune board chairman Peter Brown said at the time he was disappointed to lose Mr McBryde, but accepted that ''someone with Nicholas' skill set is needed to restore the festival's credibility''.
''We have been without a GM for some months now, which has meant our artistic director and the rest of our small management team have had to cover that role,'' Mr Brown said.
''We have continued to operate successfully during that time, but it will be great to get back to a full complement. Jennifer has the energy and enthusiasm to help us regain the momentum we've enjoyed over the last few years.''
Ms Thompson starts at the Fortune on Monday.