Boys and Girls at the School Silent Disco

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

09/07/2024 - 13/07/2024

Production Details

Playwright/Dramaturg- Jack McGee
Production Design- Jacob Banks
Director- Ben Kelly

Squash Co. Arts Collective

It’s disco time at Ngaio Primary!

Christopher wants a silent disco, where everyone can choose their own dream night of bangers.

Julianne wants a classic disco where everyone comes together to jam to Who Let the Dogs Out.

Prepare for their emotional battle of ideals to sweep you away, in this nostalgic romp celebrating youth, sincerity, and Britney Spears!

Jack McGee’s Playwrights B425 Award-winning play makes it’s world premiere at BATS Theatre! Brought to you by the team behind One NIght Band, Sandwich Artist, Long Ride Home and Night of the Silver Moon, “Boys and Girls” pulls together Te Whanganui-a-tara’s best emerging talent for a show that will have you laughing, pondering, and bopping along!

Squash Co. Arts Collective are dedicated to creating distinctive, original theatre. Based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, we’re proud to create shows that we’re not embarrassed to ask our Mums along to. Find out more about Squash Co. Arts Collective here.
“Grossness” warning for vomiting onstage.
Likely to be flashing lights.

BATS Theatre, The Dome
9-13 July, 8pm
Tickets $20-$30

Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
Anna Barker
Mia Oudes
Dylan Hutton
Phoebe Caldeiro
Daniel Nodder

Playwright/Dramaturg- Jack McGee
Production Design- Jacob Banks
Director- Ben Kelly
Costume Design- Heather Wright
Stage Manager- Julia McDonald
Producer- Austin Harrison

Theatre ,


Astoundingly clever collective magic a real pleasure to witness

Review by Tara McEntee 10th Jul 2024

Tuesday night at BATS Theatre sees the premiere of Jack McGee’s Playwrights B425 Award-winning play, Boys and Girls at the School Silent Disco.

The creative team behind this production are some of Pōneke’s brightest young theatre-makers – and honestly, thank God they’re here. Boys and Girls at the School Silent Disco is engaging, energetic, heartfelt and a breath of fresh air. I’m so happy this team are getting the air-time they deserve.

The Dome at BATS is set up in traverse, a clever staging choice for the space, and also for the story. My friends comment that it’s reminiscent of the school discos boy/girl divide that ramps the tension before a few brave souls pluck up enough courage to venture onto the dancefloor. The set, by Jacob Banks, is simple yet effective, with a series of raised boxes sporadically serving as plinths, seats, or soapboxes for passionate 10 year-old grandstanding. A delightful nod to primary school nostalgia lies in the painted gym lines all over the set – as soon as I walk into the space I am transported back to Fendalton School, Christchurch, 2005.  

The script is likely my favourite part of the production. Jack McGee is an incredibly talented creative, and the layers of meaning and nuance in his writing are truly unique. On the surface, the play is about a power struggle between two precocious Year 6 students at Ngaio Primary School. Julianne (Anna Barker) wants a disco for the times, with proper pop music and collective enjoyment of a shared experience. Christopher (Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin) wants a school disco underpinned by individualism; students listen to their own music on their headphones, so everyone ends up happy. Separate, but together.

Christopher wins out with his pitch and, at the disco, we follow a cast of the most eloquent pre-pubescent kids you’ve ever met. The narrative is peppered with philosophical theses, political parallels and relationship complexities. It’s an astoundingly clever piece of theatre: the dialogue of an adult, spoken by a child, gives a child-like perspective to adult issues and an adult perspective on children’s. It makes me want to talk to (and listen to) my nieces more about what it’s like being 13 in 2024. 

Ben Kelly’s direction of the piece is very effective, done with a light hand. He lets the energy of the performers blast their way through the narrative, never letting heavy direction get in the way – a lesson some of his contemporaries down the road might like to learn.

Unsurprisingly, I am engaged by every single performer on the stage. Dylan Hutton as the home-schooled weird kid Lawrence gives what I would consider a masterclass in heartfelt comedy, especially during his impassioned speech to his parents about his romantic prospects. Phoebe Caldeiro as Sarinka, the hot mess who just wants to dance, is delightfully bizarre and warm.

Anna Barker and Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin as the warring co-student representatives on the Board of Trustees are both hilarious and utterly serious in equal measure. Mia Oudes as Katie plays a conflicted, flawed ten-year old with impressive heart and intensity.

But I must say, huge props to go Daniel Nodder as Danny … For the avoidance of spoilers, I won’t go into detail on his character; suffice it to say I think Daniel is possibly the most charismatic performer I’ve seen on the Wellington scene, period.

After the show, the audience is buzzing. I think it’s a rare thing when a group of creatives like those behind Boys and Girls at the School Silent Disco find each other. It’s a collective magic created by all the right elements coming together at just the right time, and it’s a real pleasure to witness. The Silent Disco was a huge success, and the kids will be talking about it in class all week, and you should be too.

Boys and Girls at the School Silent Disco is on till Saturday. I highly recommend you get along; BYO glow sticks. 


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