Scary Sagas at Bats

BATS Theatre, Wellington

08/01/2010 - 16/01/2010

Production Details

Soul Food Tellers, the storytelling branch of Baggage theatre co-op, is offering young audiences a unique opportunity to visit the iconic BATS theatre and enjoy a special holiday show targeted to children 7 years and over –and for the extremely fearless.

“We don’t consider our stories ‘really’ scary,” says Soul Food Teller Moira Wairama. “But older kids are better suited to stories told in a dark theatre, especially as unlike with a television screen, they can’t turn off the storyteller. That’s why we recommended the age restriction, but ultimately it’s the parents call. They know their kids best.”

The show which runs for approx. 45 minutes features a collection of spine tingling tales from Maori, Native American and European folklore and also features Wellington storytellers Tony Hopkins and and Ralph Johnson. 

“I think my story may make the adults more uncomfortable than the children,” laughs Tony Hopkins, originally from Washington DC and co founder of Baggage Co-op, which is producing the show. “We’ve never staged a children’s show at Bats but as we have an adult show scheduled in the evening, we’re taking advantage of having a venue for a matinee.  We’re aware the seven plus age group have limited affordable theatre options and we liked the idea of parents being able to share a BATS experience with their kids. BATS was also very supportive when we took the idea to them. It’s going to be fun!”

Ralph Johnson the third storyteller involved in the show has recently finished a role as Santa Claus at Capital E. “I’m looking forward to having fun with a very different type of children’s show at BATS. When we did a trial run of the stories with some school classes last month we had a great response.”

Children who attend the show are invited to dress in their scariest outfits, as are the adults who accompany them.

Scary Sagas
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
1pm Fri 8th Sat 9th and Thurs 14th, Fri 15th, Sat 16th January 2010.
Ticket prices $6.
Bookings: ph 802-4175 or email  
For more information

Ralph Johnson
Moira Wairama
Tony Hopkins

Operator: Cam Nicholls

40 mins

Confronting the fearsome in fantasy and fable

Review by John Smythe 08th Jan 2010

The same trio that plays Te Haerenga: a journey of identity at night is bringing their story-telling skills to children 7 years and over, and “the extremely fearless.

While we are waiting for the show to start a small boy in the second row accuses his mother, five rows back, of being too scared to sit down there with him. Like all the others he is full of anticipation for the experience promised by a stage dressed with spookily-lit masks and animal bones.

Each storyteller presents their ‘saga’ in turn, offering a brief ‘overture’ to set the tone of their tale then introducing themselves and their story in natural mode before launching into it, with well-integrated characterisations and vocalised sound-effects, abetted by appropriate lighting effects.

Cautioning kids who complain about their mums to be grateful she’s not like this one, Moira Wairama delivers an ancient korero from Ngati Porou. Houmea, the wife of fisherman Uta, mother of Tutawake and Nini, is a voracious consumer (you will have to go, to find out of what). Especially impressive is Moira’s manifestation of Houmea’s ‘gorgantuan’ appetite.

Ralph Johnson has chosen a story from France and delights in bringing a beautiful countess, her doting husband and various members of their household to life – and, in one case, death. A leg, badly broken and graphically amputated – we get to choose how – then replaced with a golden one, becomes the focus of attention. A clear moral that theft doesn’t pay is tainted with a whiff of how wrong it is for a valet to get ideas above his station.  

Hailing from a west coast tribe of native American Indians is Tony Hopkins’ monstrous creature: Dashkaya – related, I’m told to the Big-Foot / Sasquatch / Yeti legends – who sports greasy long hair, dribbles snot from her nose (“Mmmm, what a nice appetiser!”) and looks for children to suck out their brains. Fortunately for the little Indian girl who has heard this tale and has the inevitable encounter, the antidote proves to be to call on the protection of her ancestors – just as her mother told her. But … There is always a ‘but’ to keep us on our toes.

Having found it sad that the baddies are not scary enough in pantomimes these days, I’m delighted to observe the children attending the opening show of Scary Sagas lap it up. Confronting the fearsome in fantasy and fable is a crucial part of our early lives.
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