NZ FESTIVAL CLUB, Odlins Plaza, 17 Cable St, Wellington

03/03/2018 - 03/03/2018

New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2018

Production Details

“It’s a rare thing for a show to be able to take you so honestly from moments of laughter to moments of self-reflection. Raw insights will no doubt leave you wanting to see more.” PERTH NOW

Australia’s most popular live storytelling series, Barefaced Stories, lands in Wellington for one massive New Zealand Festival Club night.

Minute by riveting minute, hear real people reveal real stories. From comedians to firefighters, transsexuals to war correspondents, each person takes to the stage armed only with a true-life tale – some humorous, some sad, some downright perverse!

Hosted by co-creator, comedian and ABC Radio public broadcaster Andrea Gibbs, this one-off Festival edition features special guest artists, solo raconteurs and interesting Wellingtonians with a tale to tell.

A sure-bet evening of refreshingly honest, bold and brutally frank entertainment.


Judith is a volunteer firefighter from Kāpiti and the first woman to be elected to the board of the United Fire Brigades’ Association. Her relationship with fires started when she was four after burning her eyebrows while blowing out her birthday candles. She writes manuals for a living and poems and stories for fun.

Avi is a Wellington-born writer, traveller and educator. Although trained as a lawyer, he gained his MA from Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters in 2013. He has worked and lived all over the globe, and his travel writing has been published with BBC Travel, The Listener and Lonely Planet, among others. Avi has worked as a writing instructor and trip leader for National Geographic, directed a school in Ghana and is the most recent winner of Survivor NZ.

Zoë is a performer, writer, artist and comedian. She grew up in Grafton, Australia, where she and her best friend staged a musical instead of going to Schoolies week. Her show Trigger Warning won two Green Room Awards and both the Golden Gibbo and the Barry Award for Most Outstanding Show at the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It was also nominated for Best Show at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Drama. Don’t miss Trigger Warning also at the New Zealand Festival Club, 2 & 3 March. 

Georgina is a pioneering transexual who has endured the rigours of the sex industry and overcome the disapproval of being who she is to triumph as a social justice and human rights advocate. Georgina was the first “out” transexual in the world to be elected as mayor (of Carterton) and to become a member of Parliament. She has a raft of stories to share, but which one of them will it be?

Susie is a journalist and broadcaster, currently co-presenter of New Zealand’s highest rating radio show, RNZ’s Morning Report. Before moving to NZ from Edinburgh, Susie was a war correspondent for six years and covered major world events including the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She’s reported and presented from around the world, including from Afghanistan and Iraq, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and the Balkans. She’s also witnessed and reported the immediate aftermath of disasters including the 2004 Asian tsunami, 2005 Pakistan earthquake and presented rolling coverage on RNZ following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and through the night of the Kaikoura quake in 2016.

Thoraya majored in Development Studies and Social Policy at university and applied for Volunteer Service Abroad’s UniVol programme for Development Studies majors. In 2016, Thoraya undertook a 10-month assignment as Support Officer with the Samoa Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (SASNOC) – transferring her skills to SASNOC staff so they become fully independent of outside help in computer skills, writing press releases, social media use and website maintenance. Since returning to New Zealand, Thoraya has gone back to university to complete her Bachelor of Laws at Waikato University.

Joe Blossom is the performance project of musician and composer Sean O’Brien. Based in Wellington, O’Brien has toured internationally and performed in noted festivals such as the Big Day Out and Camp A Low Hum. 2014 and 2015 saw him branch into the international arts festival circuit with the critically acclaimed theatre show Demolition of the Century – a production featuring Blossom alongside author, playwright and filmmaker Duncan Sarkies (Scarfies, Flight of the Conchordsand Two Little Boys).

New Zealand Festival Club
Saturday 03 March 2018
GA (seated): $39.00
Pricing excludes service fee More about ticket categories

Under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian 

See a show, stay for the party. This electric pop-up on Wellington’s waterfront is the place to be and be seen for three fun-filled Festival weeks. And when the curtain falls each night, Wellington’s newest hot spot throws open its doors with free entry for everyone. Because the show ain’t over until the Festival Club closes.

View Festival Club shows

Theatre , Spoken word ,

Told to a packed crowd at New Zealand Festival Club

Review by Jessica Long 05th Mar 2018

Seven journeys combined bravery with adversity, and limitations with triumph in a raw collection of personal and insightful Barefaced Stories at the packed New Zealand Festival Club pop-up venue on Wellington’s waterfront. 

Everyday Wellingtonians, and a couple of Aussies, talked about life-changing experiences when life collided with a variety of political and social issues: such as discrimination and war. 

The audience welcomed a firefighter, transsexual, fighter, war correspondent, comedian, dare devil and self-professed liar. Judith Stanley, Georgina Beyer, Thoraya Abdul-Rassol, Susie Ferguson, Avi Duckor-Jones, Zoe Coombes Marr and Sean O’Brien’s (Joe Blossom) journeys through doubt, defiance, fear, fatigue and survival were relatable. [More


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Some rise above the ramble

Review by Margaret Austin 04th Mar 2018

There are many stories to tell and many ways to tell them, as we discover in ‘Barefaced Stories’, playing for one night only in the fabulous Festival Club Spiegeltent on the waterfront.

Brought together by Australian stand-up comedian Andrea Gibbs, five women and two men are given the stage to ‘tell a story’. Only two of the participants are well known to the audience and a fuller introduction by the MC would be appreciated.

‘Story’ is a loose term, and one that this reviewer has learned to be wary of. It gives rise to pitfalls in content and delivery, some of which are present in this show.

A dictionary offers the following definition of story: “an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment”. Tonight’s story tellers are intent on reality, albeit legitimately embroidered in some cases. And most of them have a dose of entertainment value.

The most enjoyable story, because it’s the most sensational, is Georgina Beyer’s. Her possibly unfair advantage, at her own admission, is being not just a transgender person but Māori and a woman. Her oft-repeated tale of her extraordinary rise from Vivian Street slapper to Member of Parliament has stood her in good stead.

There are arguments for and against the practice of writing out in full, or you might say scripting, a presentation of this kind. We aren’t listening to TED talks here, but a reading of TED CEO Chris Anderson’s book on what works best for a talk reveals that someone giving one is most effective if, at some point, they have written out in full, word for word, what they want to say.

Scripting is useful for the effect it has on the structure and wording of a talk. A couple of speakers take us on a ramble, and largely lose us. Some of the anecdotes are not worded precisely enough to make their point and provoke the intended laugh. And openers which refer to ‘taking you on a journey’ or ‘wanting you to imagine’ are clichés to be avoided.

To relate the content of these stories would be boring. You had to be there. Standouts are Susie Fergusson’s account of six years as an embedded journalist in Iraq, and the diminutive lass from Dubai’s boxing success.

The hundreds-strong audience are happy enough to sit through over two hours in rather uncomfortable seating, and my companion is stuck directly behind a tall man with his view of the stage obscured.

Prize for the best opener goes to the stand-up comic who begins with: “Thank you for coming out – if you have.”

And just before leaving the stage, her punch line: “My longest relationship has been with you.” 


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