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February 18, 2008 | by  | in Theatre |
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Kia ora. Welcome to the Salient Theatre Pages for 2008! This part of the magazine is devoted solely to informing you about all of the funky theatre that’s going on in Wellington this year.

2008’s already off to a rollicking start, with the Fringe Festival in full swing and the International Arts Festival just around the corner too. So for those you already into the performing arts, keep checking these pages weekly for reviews of all the current shows, as well as a few pointers towards all the cool, must-see plays that are opening. For those thespians amongst us who are still coming out of the wardrobe, check us out once in a while and you might just find something that tickles your fancy!

Its no secret that Wellington is the artistic capital of New Zealand.

If you’re new to Wellington, there’s a good chance you moved here for that very reason – I know I certainly did! Here’s a wee orientation for the newbies, just to let you know what’s what in the big city:


You will find Circa Theatre down by Te Papa. There are actually two theatres in the building, aptly named Circa One and Circa Two. In Circa One you’ll find the larger scale productions (plays such as Death of a Salesman or The Cherry Orchard), while in Circa Two you will see some slightly riskier, edgier plays, like the fresh New Zealand works The Cape and Armslength. Downstage rests at the far end of Courtenay Place, near the Embassy. The theatre itself is very versatile and you never know what it will look like from play to play. The thing about Circa and Downstage is that they are commercial enterprises, and as such have to put on shows which will draw punters. Their tickets can be expensive, but they’ve recently loosened up and now have a few good deals for under 25’s.

If you’re looking for something a bit fresher (or cheaper), BATS is where it’s at. Located just over the road from Downstage, BATS was established for smaller, emerging artists to put on their work. You’ll find quite a variety of plays on here and seasons are generally quite short, so get in quick and don’t miss out!

Further down Courtenay Place you’ll find the St James. This is where operas and musicals are put on, and where Ian McKellen performs when he comes to town. I don’t know anything more about this theatre because I’m not actually rich enough to get inside – tickets are normally really expensive! INSIDER’S TIP – you can see the shows for free if you get a job there…


Right now, Wellington is pumping with the most theatre you’ll see all year. So get out there and see some!

The Fringe – the Fringe Festival is where the artists of Wellington, whether known or emerging, strut their stuff for about a month. This year it’s the biggest it’s ever been, so what the hell are you doing reading this stupid article? Get down to Civic Centre and grab a programme now! Watch out for…

Sensible Susan and the Queen’s Merkin – You can’t go wrong with Theatre Militia, one of Victoria’s most successful troupes of theatre graduates. 9.30pm @ BATS, 18-22 Feb.

Familiar Strangers – A walk through Wellington with performers splashed throughout the city. A very cool concept with much promise. 6.15pm @ Paramount, 12 Feb to 1 Mar (+3pm on Saturdays).

Caravan of Amazement – A motley group of bizarre circus creatures brought to life by Toi Whakaari Costume Construction graduates. Should be pleasant on the eyes. 6pm @ Civic Centre, 15-17 and 22-24 Feb.

The Ghosts’ Soiree – Dress up as a ghost and head down to the Mighty Mighty! I’m intrigued… 8pm @ The Mighty Mighty, 20 Feb to 1 Mar.

International Arts Festival – this is coming up at the end of the month and runs until mid-March. Some truly extravagant acts are coming to town from all around the world. Be prepared to fork out a bit of cash, though, as these things don’t come cheaply.

A few shows to check out…

Te Karakia – You would be silly to miss out on a Taki Rua production directed by David O’Donnell. A story of hope and forgiveness set amidst the 1981 Springbok tour. 7.30pm @ Downstage, 27 Feb to 4 Mar (4pm on the 2nd)

The Dentist’s Chair – Jacob Rajan’s latest play. You may know this guy from Indian Ink’s The Candlestick Maker and Krishnan’s Dairy. Guaranteed to be a winner. Multiple times @ Soundings Theatre (Te Papa), 6-16 Mar.

Honour Bound – An Australian troupe which fuses acrobatics, dance, theatre and film. 8.30pm @ TSB Bank Arena, 13-16 Mar. Cirque Ici – A night under the big top like no other. Odlins Plaza, Waterfront, from 22 Feb to 16 Mar at multiple times.


If you’ve made it this far through the article, you’re probably keen on theatre. The theatre pages need reviewers and writers, so if you want to join the team, email us on

Complimentary tickets to shows, of course!

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