09/03/2015 - 14/03/2015
19/04/2016 - 23/04/2016
15/10/2016 - 15/10/2016
World Premiere by Little Dog Barking Theatre
And so this story of how love, family and friendship overcomes bullies and all adversities unfolds.
International award winning Little Dog Barking Theatre presents a world premiere show, Guji Guji as part of the Capital E National Arts Festival 2015 at Prefab Hall on Saturday 14 March at 10am. Originally a book by Chih-Yuan Chen, New Zealander Peter Wilson adapts the story to stage in an enchanting puppet show for children aged 4 – 8 years.
Guji Guji is the story of a large unhatched egg that rolled down a hill and into a duck’s nest. The Mother Duck was reading so she never noticed the extra egg, even though it was much bigger than all the rest. When the eggs began to crack, she called the first one Crayon, the second Zebra and the third Moonlight. The fourth and largest egg cracked and said Guji Guji, so that became his name.
Little Dog Barking theatre was established in 2010 by Peter WIlson. The vision for the company is to create innovative and original theatre productions for early childhood and lower primary school audiences. The company creates the thrill and magic of live theatre in their centre or school, and brings to children the stories of their world, told and presented in simple and imaginative ways.
Festival Producer Melanie Hamilton says, “Capital E is thrilled to work again with Little Dog Barking Theatre as part of the Capital E National Arts Festival. Guji Guji is a beautiful story that celebrates unique identity and addresses issues such as bullying with a young audience. Duck Death and the Tulip won Outstanding Theatre Production – Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 2014. Only two such awards were given this year over the 3000 companies performing at the Fringe.”
Guji Guji is one of the four world premiere shows part of the Capital E National Arts Festival. Tickets for the show are available for purchase online at the Capital E website.
Junior Week performances, 9 – 13 March, see Schedule
Public performances: Saturday 14 March at 10am & 11.30am
(please note: the 10am performance of Guji Guji has sold out)
To book tickets and view the full Festival programme visit www.capitale.org.nz
Award-winning Theatre Company brings kids books to life
New Zealand’s own internationally acclaimed Little Dog Barking Children’s Theatre is playing Wellington, Lower Hutt & Kapiti during the April school holidays.
Wellington audiences will be treated to two productions by the company. Guji Guji plays at BATS Theatre in Wellington, Little Theatre in Lower Hutt and the Kapiti Playhouse in Paraparaumu in April along with a season of Death Duck and the Tulip at BATS.
Guji Guji – BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
Tuesday 19th April – Saturday 23rd April at 10:00am and 11:30am
Duck, Death and the Tulip – BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
Tuesday 19th April – Saturday 23rd April at 6pm.
Bookings for BATS at BATS Theatre via email@example.com or 04 802 4175
Guji Guji – Little Theatre, Queens Drive, Lower Hutt
Thursday, 28th April at 10:00am and 11:30am
Guji Guji – Kapiti Playhouse, 7 Ruahine Street, Paraparaumu
Thursday, 28th April at 10:00am and 11:30am
Bookings and enquiries for Kapiti and Lower Hutt 021 042 1851 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Graphic & shadow puppet design: Nancy Jxu
Composer: Stephen Gallagher
Lighting design: Nigel Percy
Animation & operator: Jason Longstaff
Theatre , Puppetry , Children’s ,
Good lessons learned
Review by Sonia Mackenzie 16th Oct 2016
The house is full and the children attending obviously enjoy the story. A lovely backdrop scene with a large sun moving across opens the show to a new day. The sound of music and, later, beautiful whistling enhance the air.
On a very colourful nest Mother Duck prepares to lay her eggs. The sounds and effort involved suggest it is not an easy task. Unnoticed, a large green egg rolls in to join the three in the nest – as Mother Duck relaxes and reads from her book.
The ducklings hatch and are named by Mother: Crayon, Moonlight, Zebra and the larger, strangest looking one is named Guji Guji, after the first noise he makes. To the audience it is obvious he is a crocodile but Mother Duck does not seem to see this – making the point that to mothers all their babies are beautiful! She teaches them to dive and swim and Guji Guji gets stuck in the bottom of the pond.
The scene changes to under the sea/water and we have pretty fish swimming about. Two ugly crocodiles appear, hell bent on eating the ducklings, and try to persuade Guji Guji to show them where they are. In the process of talking to them Guji realizes that he too is a crocodile.
All ends well as he manages to dispose of the two ugly crocodiles and save the ducklings. The moral of the tale is about accepting diversity and who you are and not being controlled by bullies. A good lesson to learn when young.
Altogether a good entertainment for those between three and eight years old – and a few grandparents too! The sounds of enjoyment are such that I am unaware of a huge thunderstorm raging outside!
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Beautifully and gently told
Review by Jo Hodgson 20th Apr 2016
There is a bubbly excitement as the young audience and their adults take their seats. The stage is bare except for a screen in 3 sections lit up with one of Nancy Xu’s designs, a forest scene, projected on it.
Soon enough the lights go down and Stephen Gallagher’s peaceful musical soundscape brings the screen to life as the sun rises and a chirping bird makes its way through the forest, meeting a foraging bunny for a morning chat.
This idyllic scene is interrupted by a rather large green egg bouncing in and it begins to taunt the curious bunny in a humorous slapstick kind of way which brings much chortling and laughter from the audience.
Meanwhile Mother Duck has made her nest and laid 3 eggs – with great comic effort – but is distracted by a cheeky worm – cue fun double bass and drum ‘catch me if you can’ type music and un-noticed, the large egg bounces screen saver style into the nest.
The eggs all hatch: 3 little ducklings, Crayon, Zebra and Moonlight and then out of the big green egg hatches the most unlikely looking huge duckling who is named Guji Guji (because of the first sound he makes after hatching).
In a much kinder twist on the Hans Christian Anderson story The Ugly Duckling, Guji Guji is accepted into the duck family without a second thought and Mother Duck proceeds to lovingly teach them all the art of being a duck – swimming, diving, and waddling – before snuggling up for a storytime lullaby, to which my 3 year old calls out loudly that they haven’t eaten dinner yet!
But there are watching eyes which send worried ripples through the auditorium and audible whispers of what they might be. “It’s a squid” and “It’s Guji’s mother” are some of the thoughts closest to me but it transpires that they are crocodiles who want to have a duck dinner.
Luckily, although initially a little scary, this tension is cleverly relieved with a mix of humour. But these characters are the ‘baddies’ of the story; they bully Guji Guji about his thinking and acting like a duck and tell him he has to lead the ducks to them to eat and then return to live with his own kind.
So now Guji Guji has to figure out who he is, what and who is important to him and how to solve this conundrum.
Guji Guji is a beautifully and gently told story adapted from the book of the same name by Chih-Yuan Chen: a story of unconditional love, being true to who you are and want to be. The puppeteers Kenny King, Matthew Benton and Debbie Fish manoeuvre Peter Wilson’s magical shadow puppets behind the screen with great skill while Jason Longstaff smoothly operates the animation and Nigel Perry’s lighting design.
Live theatre is an important and impressionable medium especially for young audiences and there are often opportunities for later discussion and debate about the messages and challenges faced by the characters.
This production is no exception and after such a thoughtful and imaginative story about kindness and acceptance of each other and oneself, I personally feel the ending jars somewhat when Guji Guji chooses to settle his conflict by throwing rocks at the bullish crocs. I feel this could have been an opportunity for the adapter/director to also challenge the ‘Punch and Judy’-esque tit-for-tat messages often seen in stories to match the ever growing wave of awareness that bully-ish behaviours can be resolved in a different way.
This can still be seen as theatre doing its job but I believe it’s a tricky balance when aiming a play at children as young as two. The potential impacts need to be considered carefully.
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Engaging and entertaining allegory
Review by John Smythe 09th Mar 2015
Originally a best-selling children’s book by Chih-Yuan Chen, Guji Guji has been adapted and directed by New Zealander Peter Wilson (Little Dog Barking Theatre) using an ingenious combination of front projection with a bit of animation and back-lit shadow-puppetry of the coloured kind.
Nancy Jxu’s scenic designs are projected on to three screens, enhanced by Jason Longstaff’s animations, and her delightful puppet designs have been printed into plastic film then mounted on to articulated Perspex, to be operated with rods.
Three extremely adept puppeteers – Shona McKee-McNeil, Kenny King and Rachel Baker – voice the action live, as much with non-verbal noises as with words, and Stephen Gallagher’s composition of music and sound adds aural mood and texture to proceedings. There are songs, too, to keep things lively.
There is something of a prelude to the main story with a rising sun, flitting bird and bustling bunny setting the scene – then a large green egg appears, rolling and bouncing about the landscape. Its inadvertent monstering of the bunny has the kids in stiches.
In the book, having settled in her nest and laid three eggs, Mother Duck is too busy reading to notice the green egg join the others. Here it’s an inchworm that distracts her, which of course is more active and visually interesting.
As the three ducklings hatch they name themselves – Creon, Zebra and Moonlight – then the fourth much bigger hatchling says “guji guji” so that becomes his name. As the illustration shows, he turns out to be a crocodile. But he grows up identifying as a duck.
Malevolent eyes add a sense of danger. Some crocodiles are nasty, and they try to tell Guji Guji the ‘crocoduck’ that it’s his tribal duty to deliver the duck to them for their dinner.
So how does he solve his moral dilemma? Let’s say his solution rocks. He could have been tormented by the ducks as a different-looking outsider – the nasty crocs certainly ridicule him for walking like a duck – but instead he is hailed as a hero for protecting the only family he knows.
As adults we could overthink the allegorical implications. Personally, rather than see rocks used as weapons, I’d have preferred the crocs to swallow them whole and suffer for their greed. But for the junior-primary (4-8) target audience – who are probably not ready to face the realities of the inter-species survival food chain, let alone debate assimilation vs diversity – Guji Guji is entirely suitable, clearly engaging and very entertaining. There’ll be lots to follow up on back at school.
(Performances for schools groups continue throughout the week then there are public performances on Saturday 14 March at 10am & 11.30am – although the 10am performance has already sold out.)
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