Christchurch Arts Centre (meet at the Clock Tower), Christchurch

13/12/2018 - 15/12/2018

Production Details


Get out your garlic for The Court Youth Company’s delightfully frightening end-of-year performance, Children of the Night.

The Arts Centre is being turned into Castle Dracula as The Court Theatre’s young performers immerse audiences in a thrilling adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula this December.

Directed by Dan Bain, the co-creator of the original Christchurch Ghost Walk, Children of the Night showcases both The Arts Centre’s hidden nooks and crannies and The Court’s upcoming talents in this interactive theatrical experience.

“Audiences can expect to be taken on a journey, see some parts of The Arts Centre they might not have seen and experience a youthful take on a classic,” says Programmes Manager (Education, Training and Jesters) Rachel Sears, who oversees The Court Youth Company.

Children of the Night is the company’s final performance together, exhibiting the skills of 21 young performers aged 17 – 21 who have spent the year honing their theatrical abilities at The Court Theatre under the tutelage of a range of theatrical practitioners.

“We wanted to try the genre of immersive horror with a group of young people who we thought would give it loads of energy and a fresh perspective,” says Sears. “We thought the tale of Dracula would be a great story to adapt but wanted to make it slightly different. So, in Children of the Night, audiences will follow different characters in a journey around The Arts Centre.”

Each performer will have a character (or two!) that audiences will find roaming around The Arts Centre, with Bain saying, “the audience is guided through the experience by Dracula characters Jonathan, Mina Harker and Abraham van Helsen who, along the way, meet a bunch of characters from the narrative in a spooky but fun experience.”

Children of the Night runs for three nights only, but despite its limited season, Bain is excited for this show to be bringing a bit of supernatural fun back to The Arts Centre.

“The original Ghost Tour ran for around three years at The Arts Centre and it was in Lonely Planet for things you have to do in Christchurch. So, I think the idea of something going back – even if for only a short-term basis – is an ongoing sign of the recovery of that space and the city as a whole.”

Children of the Night runs at The Arts Centre from the 13 – 15 December 2018.

Warnings: Children of the Night travels around The Arts Centre, with numerous flights of stairs. It isn’t wheelchair accessible or recommended for anyone with heart conditions or other health problems that may be exacerbated by climbing and/or sudden frights.

The Arts Centre (meet at the Clock Tower), Christchurch
Thursday 13th – Saturday 15th December 2018
8:00pm & 9:30pm
Students $15 | Adults & Seniors $22  

Sam Bowler
Tane Patterson
Paris Thornley
Anaru Shadbolt
Rongopai Tickell
Grace Newton
Freddy Thornton
Alex Wright
Todd Anderson
Conor Hill
Harrison Searancke
Alice Cheersmith
Felix Elliott
Joanna Fan
Holly Fraser Devenny
Ruby Pledge
Meg Fulton
Miriam Qualls
Ocean Pearl Jones
Anita Mapukata
Lillian Fata 

Youth , Theatre , Promenade ,

Supernatural post-apocalyptic vampire horrors balanced with heart-warming fare

Review by Ruth Agnew 15th Dec 2018

Spine-chilling screams echo around the stone buildings. The courtyard is littered with convulsing corpses. Vampires lurk in the shadows… yet we willingly enter.  

This is Children of the Night, the Court Theatre Youth Company’s newly devised post-apocalyptic/ psychological thriller/ film noir horror genre homage/ audience interactive site-specific promenade theatre event. If this explanation of its theatrical style seems overly complicated, allow me to paraphrase: Children of the Night is simply thrilling.

Summoned to meet at the Clock Tower at 9:30pm, a disparate group of strangers shiver in the shadows of the imposing Gothic Revival style buildings. By the hour’s end, we will have become allies in a fight for our lives against supernatural powers.

There is no passive observation here; the audience must willingly suspend their disbelief so completely we become players ourselves. The success of such an immersive entertainment is entirely reliant on a strong cast, which is unquestionably the strength of this production.

While some nerves are a necessary part of the experience, the company achieves an excellent balance of not making the audience feel uncomfortable. From the outset we are given a strong leader to guide us through the vampire infested buildings of The Arts Centre in the character of Jonathan.

Popular fiction has taught us that when a vampire infestation or the end of the world is imminent, follow a fresh faced earnest teenager (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight) to increase your chances of survival. Felix Elliott as Jonathan fits the mould perfectly. His beautifully modulated voice control, intense characterisation and razor sharp cheekbones are reminiscent of a young Antipodean Benedict Cumberbatch.

The storyline, tone and characters lean heavily into generic conventions, tapping into our reflective fear responses; once the audience has embodied their collective role as a group of refugees escaping the vampiric threat, a trio of wyrd sisters float through the crowd, dead eyed and red eyed. The commitment to character is beyond impressive, with Lillian Fata, Alex Wright and Grace Newton maintaining their eerie, stony faced stares even when met with anxious giggling.

Both good and bad things, they say, come in threes. Scarier than the dark manifestations we escaped at the start are the very bad incandescently white trio of corpse brides, brought to (half) life by the very good acting talents of Alice Cheersmith, Miriam Qualls and Grace Newton. Their scenes are perhaps the most chilling and thrilling.

The best supernatural post-apocalyptic vampire horrors balance the fear factor with more heart-warming fare. What elevates Children of the Night above similar interactive performative fright nights is that it taps into a range of emotional responses. Sudden changes in circumstance complicate the flight or fright reflex by tapping into our sense of compassion: would you save your own life if it meant leaving one of your group to the ravages of the vampires?

Director Dan Bain acknowledges the origins of Children of the Night can be found in the Ghost Walk that ran for three years through the historic buildings of the Arts Centre. Being closer in age to the director than the cast, I have fond memories of taking part in the original Ghost Walk, and foolishly felt that I would be better prepared for whatever the Court Theatre Youth Company created. Rarely have I enjoyed being wrong so much. The comic element of the ghost tour has gone, and in its place is a story that demands a response from a wider range of emotions.

Before inviting Summer, my teenage niece, to join me for an unpredictable hour of Artaudian theatrics, I asked her mother if a frightening interactive show would be appropriate. Armed with maternal assurances that Summer had already been to similar events back home in Australia, we have entered the ‘castle’ together. Summer insists Children of the Night is the best show she has ever been to, bar none. She shares my admiration of the actors’ commitment to character and maintaining the fraught, tense atmosphere throughout.  

I would be enthusiastically encouraging people to book for this show post haste, if the entire season had not already sold out. Every time I attend a Court Theatre Youth Company show I leave with my heart warmed by the promise of the talented young people who will form the future Christchurch theatre scene. After Children of the Night my heart is warmed, and also beating much, much faster.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council