BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

03/03/2021 - 07/03/2021

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

20/10/2020 - 23/10/2020

TAHI Festival 2020

NZ Fringe Festival 2021

Production Details

Devised by Peter Wilson and Kenny King

The Circle of Life is a new work in development that explores the birth, life, and death of two puppets – one born from a block of wood, and the other from newspaper. These inanimate objects come to life as we suspend our disbelief and are taken on a journey, where the end is the beginning and the beginning is the end.

BATS Theatre, The Dome
20, 22 & 23 October 2020
Tues 20, 7pm
Thurs 22 & Fri 23, 6pm
Full Price $22
Group 6+ $20
Concession Price $18

TAHI Festival
This performance is presented as part of and in collaboration with TAHI: New Zealand Festival of Solo Performance.  This five-day festival is dedicated to showcasing Aotearoa’s finest, most engaging solo performance. TAHI gathers soloists from around the nation, and beyond – from established to emerging practitioners – to present work, collaborate and make connections across the industry. Alongside premiering and showcasing solo performances, the Festival provides opportunities for practitioners to extend the life of their performance work, to upskill, and to network through an integrated programme of performance, workshops, and forums. TAHI also seeks to foster relationships among tertiary institutions, actor training courses, secondary schools, BATS Theatre, and industry professionals.

Part of NZ Fringe 2021

The beat of a heart, the warmth of a breath, the feel of a touch…

Circle of Life weaves the tale of two puppets, told using the ancient art form of puppetry following their journeys through Birth, Life and ultimately death.

These inanimate objects come to life as we suspend our disbelief and are taken on a journey, where the end is the beginning and the beginning is the end.

BATS Theatre – The Dome
3 March – 6 March 2021
7 March, 8pm
Book at BATS
Book through Fringe

Performed by Kenny King
Composer (Part One) Liam Reid
Admin and Marketing by Hayley Collett  

Theatre , Solo ,

1 hr

Who creates The Creator?

Review by John Smythe 04th Mar 2021

Kenny King is sitting at a desk reading a newspaper – a broadsheet, so a weekend one – as we file into BATS Dome. Despite the mandatory spaced out seating, as the houselights dim a cosy feeling imbues the room … interrupted by a sudden crinkle. The paper is coming to life! 

The first part of Circle of Life is delightfully mesmerising as Kenny gives form to judiciously folded paper, gradually building a ‘man’ from the legs up. There is humour and magic in the process, and in the way life seeps into his creation. Indeed Kenny could lord it as a deity if he succumbed to Man’s desire to worship him but of course he’s too modest for that.  

Nevertheless, he is The Creator and there is something faintly biblical in the way Paper Man becomes aware of his nakedness and is fitted with a loincloth before he – the Man – asks for, and is given, a Woman companion. Their meeting and their waltzing together is a high point in this so-far exquisite show.

Being a puppet show opening at 9pm on a weeknight, Circle of Life is clearly for adults so I’m ready for some sort of manifestation of the next inevitable phase in the life-cycle of homo sapiens. But (spoiler alert) when Woman lies back on the ground, it turns out she’s dead! His attempts to resuscitate her are fruitless and his grief is palpable. All he can do is grow old and decrepit, and join her in the wastepaper basket. (ends) I have to say this disappoints me.

Perhaps the idea is to consider evolution rather than creationism, given the second part involves a sophisticated and impeccably crafted wooden marionette – albeit created by a real (uncredited) person. Mind you, the tree that made the marionette is also where paper came from. Am I overthinking this or am I onto something here, regarding what gives life to which?

While it is more complex, the workings of a marionette are better known to most of us so, for me at least, the hooking up of Wooden Person to its strings and struts by way of bringing it to life is not quite so riveting – although anxiety about the strings getting tangles does hold my attention. And the tap dance is a treat.  

For a while it seems we are headed for further disappointment with life being lost before a new generation can be brought into being – but no … This lifecycle is more conceptual. Everyone will come to their own conclusion. For me it’s more about ‘who creates The Creator?’ than ‘who is manipulating whom?’

Either way, where do we, the audience, come into the circle which has no beginning or end? 


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Existential entrancement

Review by Margaret Austin 21st Oct 2020

Opening night of the Tahi Festival is signalled by an enthusiastic crowd outside BATS. ‘Tahi’ means one, or single: this is a festival featuring solo shows. I’m here to see The Circle of Life, described as a work in development, devised by Peter Wilson and Kenny King of Little Dog Barking.

Centre stage at BATS Dome is our soloist – Kenny King, seated, silhouetted in a sturdy frame. As the lights come up, we see he is reading a newspaper spread flat on the surface before him. So far, so unremarkable. Our sense of intrigue is heightened, however, when the newspaper seems to move, to assume a life of its own, causing its reader to consider it in a new light.

Now he starts to tear the paper, fold it, form it – first into a pair of legs and then, bit by bit, into a complete body. We have, in effect, two performers now. The paper puppet, although seemingly manipulated by the man, has a mind of its own, something the audience delights in.

“Who’s manipulating whom?” is the question which intrudes. Perhaps the answer lies in the wastepaper basket which stands to one side of the stage.  Poignancy is mixed with dismay at the fate of the newspaper puppet.

Attention now shifts to a wooden tub, hitherto in darkness, from which emerges – fully formed – a wooden puppet. King draws it out, carries it to the frame in which he originally sat and attaches the puppet to long silver strings. Behold: A marionette! The man manipulates, the marionette dances and dangles, we wonder and sense a mounting inevitability.  

That a silent solo performer can keep an audience silently entranced for an hour, as he and we are presented with existential questions about life and death, is remarkable. Devisers Peter Wilson and Kenny King are to be congratulated.


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