Meet at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington

14/11/2017 - 25/11/2017

Meet at Hamilton Gardens Info Centre, Hamilton

28/02/2019 - 03/03/2019

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2019

Production Details

An immersive audio experience that satirically reimagines Wellington

“Tripadvisor meets Pokemon Go in this absurd, fantastical tour”
★★★★ BROADWAY BABY, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017

Ancient Shrines and Half Truths is an immersive audio experience taking place in Waitangi Park and nearby surrounds, that audiences participate in via smartphone technology. Created by performance mavericks Binge Culture, Ancient Shrines gently satirises the concept that ‘real travellers belong everywhere’, and that anyone can be a local if their tourist experience is simply authentic enough.

Wellingtonians will be able to take a fresh look at their own city, while visitors can enjoy some alternative truths about our history and customs.

Director and co-writer Joel Baxendale says “AirBnB was a big inspiration. Their slogan ‘Belong Anywhere’ encapsulates a sense of entitlement that can come with travel nowadays. The ‘be a traveller, not a tourist’ ethos has really escalated with the advent of social media and online ways of engaging with cities.  We wanted to use both technology and performance to challenge this thinking, to offer people a fun and humourous way of considering how they’d like to travel and why being a local might be important to them.  The show also celebrates independent travel, that gritty desire to look under the surface of a city and find the miniscule and bizarre details that really make a place special. To do all of this, we created an immersive audio adventure disguised as a tourist guide”.

Ancient Shrines and Half Truths had its world premiere in the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where Binge Culture performed over 40 performances in 20 days, receiving multiple 4-star reviews. The Wellington season will be the New Zealand premiere, with shows taking place out of BATS Theatre.

A twist that Edinburgh audiences loved is that participants choose their own journey via the smartphone app’s pick-a-path system. Due to the variety of experiences on offer (enough to exceed the show’s duration), many Edinburgh audiences came back a second time. Another surprise is that not everything is delivered via audio. Audiences engage with actors, and are invited to physically participate in fantasy tourist adventures such as being in a blockbuster film or stumbling into a fragile cultural ceremony.

The performance has been designed to be as easy as possible for participants. Audiences are lent a mobile device and headphones and encouraged to explore the neighbourhood, with Binge Culture members on hand as guides. Ancient Shrines and Half Truths is a new-form, autonomous performance experience, designed for an agile and aware global audience.

“…manages to mercilessly send up the whole traveller-vs-tourist ethos”
★★★★ THE LIST, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017

Tickets and booking information

VENUE: Meet at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
DATES: Tuesday 14 – Saturday 25 November 2017 (no performances Sunday or Mondays)
TIME: 7pm
TICKETS: Phone BATS Theatre box office: 04 802 4175 or book online at
PRICE: $14 – $20. 

“…Manages to mercilessly send up the whole traveller-vs-tourist ethos…dares to be downright silly at times…but hits home in lampooning visitor expectations…” – The List, Edinburgh Fringe 

“…not only immensely enjoyable and satisfying, but a type of performance rarely experienced…” – Dominion Post 

Meet at Hamilton Gardens Information Centre
Thursday 28 Feb & Friday 1 Mar, 6pm / 8pm
Saturday 2 Mar & Sunday 3 Mar, 4pm / 7pm
$25 General Admission
*Booking fees apply

About Binge Culture: 

Binge Culture works to re-imagine theatre for the information age, presenting works in theatres, public spaces, and through digital platforms. The company is committed to forging new ways of engaging with audiences, and giving them real stakes in each performance.

Nominated for the prestigious TOTAL THEATRE AWARD for Innovation, Experimentation & Playing with Form, 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  

Theatre , Outdoor ,

1 hr 10 mins

Amusing, bemusing and to be embraced

Review by Margaret Austin 15th Nov 2017

Audience participation takes on a whole new dimension with this production by Binge Culture, Ancient Shrines and Half Truths, ‘staging’ its opening night with BATS Theatre as its starting point but actually taking place in nearby Waitangi Park. 

Early evening strollers on Oriental Parade are bemused by the sight of 20 or so ‘audience members’ wandering apparently aimlessly around the park with headphones, and devices that they’re intently studying. What isn’t obvious is the carefully and cleverly intoned set of instructions coming through the headphones. 

“The ticket you have purchased this evening gives you an experience that can’t be bought,” we’re told. Inspired by the phenomenon of Airbnb and its slogan “Belong Anywhere”, this very loosely termed ‘show’ more resembles a happening.

Devices and headphones this reviewer can deal with; apps and hash tags she needs a hand with from time to time from one of the very friendly actor/ facilitators.

On touching one of the icons on the device, I’m directed to a row of nearby lamp posts. “These are mature lamp posts,” our invisible informant declares. “By 2020, they’ll be …” [spoiler averted]. This, and similar comments, are probably examples of the ‘half truths’ of the title, and set the tongue-in-cheek nature of the whole ‘performance’.

The park offers various spots and ‘shrines’ to which we are directed. Parking meters, a step ladder, even a rubbish bin have a part to play. We’re encouraged to role-play and negotiate a cheaper price for a latte.

Participants are eager, amused, and bemused by turns. We co-operate with the instructions, laugh at each other’s antics, and the whole thing culminates in an improvised dance.

Promoted as for the agile and the aware, this new form of show should attract anyone prepared to embrace a very broad concept of theatre.


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