Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

10/07/2018 - 22/07/2018

Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

17/03/2019 - 17/03/2019

Capital E National Arts Festival 2019

Production Details

Black Dog and Christina lived together in a little cottage on the edge of a forest. They had been friends for a very long time, they played together, they swam together, they ran barefoot through the forest. Then, suddenly, one cold day in winter, everything began to change…

Even the very young know the pain of love. In this hauntingly beautiful story we share Black Dog’s pain as he waits and waits for the return of Christina’s love.

10 July – 21 July 2018
Tues – Sat 10.00am & 11.30am
All tickets $12.50 | Family $40 (2 adults 2 children)
Refreshments can be purchased from circa Theatre’s licensed bar and café.
Bookings 1 Taranaki ST Wellington;  04 801 7992; 
Suitable for ages 2–99 years old and their companions.

10am Thursday 19th July

This is a performance designed with the needs of children and young adults who will benefit from a more relaxed environment including people with an Autism Spectrum condition, sensory and communication disorders or learning difficulties. There will also be a relaxed tour at Te Papa at 9am before the museum opens to the public. Tour Free of Charge.

The house lights will be kept on, we will have a smaller audience and audience participation is most welcome. If it does become a little too much we will have a chill out space where you can go and sit quietly. We will also be sending out an information pack with images of the theatre, the actors and a list of plot points so everyone is prepared for the performance.

Tickets are $10.  If you have any questions, please email:

BOOK NOW or call the Box Office 04 801 7992

Little Dog Barking was established in 2010 by Peter Wilson, former artistic director of Capital E National Theatre for Children. The company specialises in puppetry and mask performance, creating work for young audiences in early childhood centres, kindergartens and lower primary schools. 

Capital E National Arts Festival 2019

Hannah Playhouse
17 March 2016
PRICE: $0.00 to $19.50 


Designed by Tolis Papazoglou
Puppet design and Construction Sharon Johnson
Music by Liam Reid and Stephen Gallagher 

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

45 mins

Relevant, real, responsible

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 18th Mar 2019

Three actor/ puppeteers – Kenny King, Rebekah Head and Craig Geenty – introduce themselves and cleverly become the characters in this production, empathetically directed by Peter Wilson and based on a book by Pamela Allen. Endearing, charming and totally engrossing, Black Dog is a magical 45 minutes that tells a story we can all relate to: how do you feel when your best friend dumps you?

Flanked by two, tall stylised trees, a simple set designed by Tolis Papazoglou, with effective lighting by Tony Black, transports us to a range of places. At times a glittering moon transforms into a beaming sun at the flick of a disc. Puppets are used to address friendship, love, rejection, heart break, loyalty and dreams in a beautiful telling of this simple story. 

As each day dawns we find ourselves in a new season. The flowers of Spring, leaves of Autumn, snowfall of winter and wonderful frolicking in the river in Summer are simply conjured up and used to great effect. Excellent musical choices and songs, designed and written by Liam Reid, support the storybook feel and presentation.

Birds, rabbits, bubbles, superb puppeteering skills and a brilliant Black Dog vocalisation give us many memorable moments – heartbreak when Black Dog howls at the moon; absolute joy as Christina and Black Dog go swimming together …

This is Theatre for Children at its best: relevant, real, responsible. Children know pain and deal with big issues all the time. They are not to be underestimated and this production speaks to the issues sympathetically and with assurance.

I have taken two four year-olds who talk about the feelings of the Black Dog all the way home. On a weekend when understanding and caring has been paramount for us all, Black Dog has been a perfect show to be at, for everyone.


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An exquisitely crafted live entertainment experience

Review by John Smythe 10th Jul 2018

I suppose it’s because NZ-born Pamela Allen spend most of her prolific working life in Australia, creating more than 50 picture books (some in collaboration with other writers but most of them all her own work), that we have only seen one other theatre production based on her works: Mr McGee and the Biting Flea, produced by Capital E National Theatre for Young People back in 2014.  

Now Little Dog Barking’s Peter Wilson has adapted and directed Black Dog (first published in 1991) with wonderful true-to-the-original-drawings rod-puppets designed and constructed by himself and Sharon Johnstone, on a splendid picture-book set designed by Tolis Papazoglou and atmospherically lit by Tony Black, who also operates the sound and lights.

Few words are used, meaning those that are have greater impact. Played out to a mesmerising score by composer Liam Reid, the story of Christina’s love for her Black Dog – how it thrives through the seasons, then is lost, then found again – is mostly told through visual language by three highly skilled black-clad puppeteers: Kenneth King, Rebekah Head and Pippa Jane. Black Dog’s body language is extremely eloquent, as is Christina’s increasing preoccupation with the sky, high above the forgotten dog.

It starts with physical comedy as Christina and Black Dog fight for the duvet in bed then captures the playful and languid moods of the seasons until Christina’s elusive dreams of a Bluebird, interrupted by the dog to her increasing irritation, lead to her quest to recapture her dream. Only when Black Dog climbs a tree and tries to fly to reclaim her attention does Christina herself ‘come down to earth’, with less of a physical thump than poor Black Dog has suffered but with emotional impact all the same.

Adults may liken this scenario to the way real relationships suffer when people ‘disappear’ into the fantasy realms of their electronic devices. My young companions (5 and about-to-be-3) are thoroughly engaged at both emotional and observational levels, as their constant commentaries attest. Sorry if that irritates the adults but it does prove to be an excellent ‘survey’ of what interests them and how they feel about it – affirming the assured judgement with which all involved have crafted this play.  

(What also interests me is that my young companions vocalise their thoughts and feelings much more here, in a darkened theatre where lighting and sound have a big effect on the experience, than at KidzStuff Theatre’s Jessica Bo Peep, where daylight, floor-seating and chatty direct-address make at all much less … what’s the right word? Spooky? Not sure. But sensing the long blackout at the beginning of Black Dog and their becoming aware of dark shapes moving in the gloom has made them rather trepidatious, I’m thinking their comments are how they reclaim the space and feel safer in it. It may also indicate it’s more suited to older ages – although there is no doubt these two get a lot out of being there.)

Little Dog Barking offers an exquisitely crafted live entertainment experience to children that is very different to the other types of holiday entertainment on offer. I encourage all parents and care-givers to include Black Dog in their activities.  

(This alternates with their Duck, Death & the Tulip, at Circa Two, 6pm.)


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