Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent, Havelock North Village Green, Havelock North

16/10/2016 - 16/10/2016

Capital E, Wellington

30/06/2007 - 14/07/2007

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2016

Production Details

Devised by: Peter Wilson and Tim Denton
Directed by: Peter Wilson

Set & Puppet Concept Design: Tim Denton

Capital E National Theatre for Children

Paper Shaper is a charming story about a mischievous little man who lives in a rubbish bin… and this is one bin that doesn’t stink! In fact it blooms flowers and butterflies, caterpillars, dogs, boats and more . . . a whole range of lively creations made by the “Paper Shaper” out of paper rubbish!

Paper Shaper uses trickery, humour and the magic of origami to transform trash into treasure. Mysterious as well as hilarious, we join the Paper Shaper on a magical non-verbal adventure into the amazing paper world inside his bin. Full of surprises, as well great messages about recycling, strange things happen when an unsuspecting man tries to throw his plastic lunch box away!

Children will think twice about what they throw in the rubbish after seeing Paper Shaper, a funny and colourful family show from Capital E National Theatre for Children.

Generously supported by The Dominion Post.

AGE: Ideal for all ages
DATES: July holiday season – 30 June-14 July – Sat 11am& 2pm (Sat 30 Juney 2pm only); Mon -Fri 10am & 11.30am.
VENUE: Capital E McKenzie Theatre
TICKETS: $10.50 per person, $38 family pass (4 people, incl at least one adult). Children aged under 2 years of age free.
BOOKINGS: For booking information click here

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2016
Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent
Sun Oct 16th: 1:30pm
Adult: $25 | Premier Adult: $35
Concession: $20 | Premier Concession: $30
Family Pass (price per person):  $20
Buy Tickets

The Cast
Robbie Hunt & Kenny King (2007)

Composer:  Gareth Farr
Origami:  Jonathan Baxter
Lighting Design:  Jo Bunce
Stage Manager:  Katie Fletcher

Theatre , Puppetry , Children’s ,

1 hr

Heart-warming and heart-winning

Review by Jenny Wake 17th Oct 2016

It’s a full house in the Spiegeltent and an audience of young and old is bubbling with anticipation. Little Dog Barking Theatre Company knows its audiences too well to terrify the smallest of them with a blackout: foregoing the usual dimming of lights, the show starts with a swell of music and the audience hushes.  

Onstage are a park bench, a winter tree and a big rubbish bin. Along comes a caretaker and, wouldn’t you know it, there’s rubbish everywhere except in the bin. Grumpily he bins the rubbish, shakes his fist at some loud, pesky birds and gets an eyeful of bird poop for his pains.

The caretaker is an actor in a full-face mask with two holes for eyes. He says not a word but his actions speak volumes and invest the mask with a rich variety of expressions. There are children in the audience as young as three years old and they watch with rapt attention, making the connections between sound effects, gestures and action, fully engaged in interpreting what’s happening on stage.

There’s something strange going on in that bin full of rubbish. As soon as the caretaker has gone, there’s a great rustling sound. Up pops a little puppet man with wonderful things he’s crafted from discarded newspaper and other scraps.

The little man is a ‘paper shaper’. He may live in a bin, but he creates, animates and inhabits a beautiful world straight from his imagination.

He fashions some shiny paper into a spiky disk and positions it overhead. Delighted children murmur, “A star!” But the way the paper shaper stretches out beneath it, it’s quickly apparent the ‘star’ is a broiling sun – and the little ones are just as quick to get it, bursting into huge giggles when the paper shaper touches the disk again and reacts as if it has burnt his hand.

A visitor (another masked man) arrives in the park. He’s here for a solitary picnic and a quiet read. This visitor isn’t a grouch like the caretaker and the paper shaper covets his reading material. Odd things start happening. The visitor has no idea there’s a little man playing with him from his hiding place in the bin. But the audience knows, and it’s delicious fun knowing that the visitor doesn’t know and anticipating the surprises that follow. 

Paper Shaper, devised by Peter Wilson and Tim Denton, is perfectly crafted for very young audiences – and for anyone else open to its charms. The story is simple and gently told, but there’s a wealth of humorous detail in the visual storytelling as the paper shaper and the visitor discover a shared love of creative play and forge a wonderful friendship. 

The puppet and masks, beautifully designed by master craftsman Tim Denton, have an open innocence that is immediately endearing and draws us in. Puppeteer Kenny King and Peter Wilson as the caretaker and the visitor both expertly and emotively bring puppet and masks to vivid life through gesture and body language. Their performances are heart-warming and heart-winning.

Little Dog Barking Theatre Company specialises in productions for early childhood, junior primary and young family audiences. Over many years, director Peter Wilson’s understanding of very young audiences has developed tremendous depth, and this is fully reflected in this production.

Seize the chance to take your little ones (3 years and older) to see Paper Shaper if you can. It’s like watching a picture book come alive before your very eyes. For first-time theatre-goers it’s a perfect introduction to the magic of theatre.  


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World-quality children’s theatre

Review by Thomas LaHood 02nd Jul 2007

Short and simple, yet rich with emotion and humour, Paper Shaper is the antithesis of big-brand kids’ entertainment such as Hi-5 or The Wiggles.  With utmost care and skill the company weaves together a magical world that will introduce children to the true beauty that theatre is capable of expressing.

The story springs straight from the realms of imagination and curiosity that children inhabit.  What happens to the little man on the side of the rubbish bin when no-one is looking?  He creates a whole universe out of people’s paper, with a paper sun, paper trees, paper flowers and paper butterflies.  When a long-faced but cheerful man visits the Paper Shaper’s park for a picnic, the two start out as opponents, but soon become playmates and finally, friends.

This tale, devised by director Peter Wilson and Puppet/Set designer Tim Denton, needs no dialogue to communicate to its junior audience.  The combination of mask-work and puppetry opens up some wonderful possibilities for visual storytelling, deftly performed by Kenny King and Robbie Hunt.

Simple characterisation in mask goes a very long way, and when the long-faced man uses his picnic blanket to imitate superman he is immediately a sympathetic protagonist, someone that the kids can relate to.  The puppets come from a world somewhat more mystical, but are delightfully alive.  When the Paper Shaper set loose his puppet caterpillar to steal the long-faced man’s magazine, the toddler behind me couldn’t restrain his excitement, screaming "’Pillar!  ‘Pillar!  ‘Pillar!" at full voice.

Visually, the show is beautiful to watch.  Jo Bunce’s lighting design gives both the real world of the park and the magic world of the Paper Shaper’s rubbish bin a rich vibrancy.  It’s colourful, but evokes the subtlety of twilight.  There are some breathtaking effects, notably the thunderstorm and the flickering, flame-like sheets of paper that the two characters pass by on their way into the rubbish-bin world.

Gareth Farr’s soundscape is also perfectly pitched for the show.  Soft and subtle, the sound effects are an essential part of the communication onstage.  Farr uses electronic midi technology to create these splashes, leaps, bangs and crumples, but far from being irritating bleeps, they have a gentle, organic tone and a precision of quality that is ideal for the visual action they accompany.

This return season utilises the original cast, but there are new hands on deck in the operating booth.  I couldn’t find an operator listed in the programme but, together with stage manager Katie Fletcher this is a tremendous role, as the show boasts a high level of technical content and visual effects.  Combining the lighting, sound and the timing of the puppetry and performance onstage is demanding, but this is a very well-oiled machine.  The technical performance is so smooth that the subtleties of the sound and lighting are brought into their own, without needing to crank up the volume.

This is the kind of enchanting, poetic and moving theatre that is ideal for nourishing little minds.  They are not told when and what to call out, but freely do so anyway, completely ensconced in the world of the show before them.  This is world-quality children’s theatre and deserves big houses the length of its upcoming tour of the North Island’s West Coast.

Finally, a note about sponsorship.  At the recent Creative New Zealand Arts Reviewers’ Seminar, there was some heated discussion about whether or not sponsors deserved mention in show reviews.  In this case, The Dominion Post, as the major sponsor, merits note for its inspired match to the content of the show.


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