Southwards Theatre, Otaihanga, Paraparaumu

29/09/2016 - 30/09/2016

Prefab Hall, 14 Jessie Street (access also from Vivian St), Wellington

03/10/2016 - 07/10/2016

Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

16/04/2016 - 30/04/2016

Expressions Arts & Entertainment Centre - Upper Hutt, Wellington

24/09/2016 - 24/09/2016

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

18/03/2017 - 18/03/2017

Capital E National Arts Festival

Production Details

Capital E’s Brand New Show Hits the Road 

Young children aged 2+ and their families will be heading to the Hannah Playhouse from Monday 18 April – Saturday 30 April at 10am during the April school holidays to see the world premiere of Capital E National Theatre for Children’s Shu’s Song.

Capital E National Theatre for Children’s Shu’s Song is a new live show created by Laura Gaudin, Rachel Callinan and Gina Moss for children across Aotearoa, New Zealand. In over 45 minutes, audience members follow the journey of Shu learning to adapt to an unfamiliar world, gradually turning curiosity into confidence with each new encounter.

Capital E National Theatre for Children’s Creative Producer Marianne Taylor says, “Shu’s exploration of new objects and environments encourages ideas such as exploration, identity, belonging and critical thinking. We’re very much looking forward to premiering this production for schools and ECC’s across the country.”

This live show will delight and inspire young people as Shu discovers the secret life of everyday objects in a home office. Shu’s imagination brings these objects alive in this charming and inventive story about exploring our environments and building relationships.

Sound and music are key elements of the show, using tone, volume, and composition to demonstrate emotion, communication and purpose. In fact, sound, movement, puppetry and light replace speech, creating a non-verbal visual theatre experience that provides each audience member with opportunity to connect and understand the story through their individual perspective. 

Shu’s Song reflects a young person’s world of discovery and imagination. It tells a story we will all recognise – a path to understanding our complex world and the challenges faced along the way.

The show provides a great opportunity for children to explore and discover drama and sound, to understand the concepts of what can be achieved when working together as a group, and to respond to live theatre – another experience that may be new in their lives.

Bookings are open for all Capital E shows with further information on how to book, dates and times visit the Capital E website .

Information on location and venues (touring) 

North Island
Palmerston North // Regent on Broadway // 5 May
Napier // Municipal Theatre // 11 & 12 May
Hamilton // Clarence Street Theatre // 16-18 May
Tauranga // Baycourt Community & Arts Centre // 20 May
Rotorua // Civic Theatre // 24 May
Kerikeri // The Turner Centre // 27 May
Whangarei // Forum North // 1-3 June

Manukau // Vodafone Events Centre 7 & 8 June:
To book for Manukau performances, please contact the Vodafone Events Centre directly on or

North Shore // The Pumphouse // 13-16 June 
Gisborne // War Memorial Theatre // 20 June 
New Plymouth // TSB Showplace Theatre Royal // 23 June 
Carterton // Events Centre // 28 June 
Taupo // Great Lake Centre // 1 July


Expressions Arts & Entertainment Centre 
836 Fergusson Dr, Upper Hutt
Saturday 24 September, 10am-10.45am
$8 per person; under 2s are free
Bookings via the Expressions website

Southward Car Museum 
Otaihanga Rd, Paraparaumu, Kapiti
Thursday 29 & Friday 30 September, 10am-10.45am
$8 per person; under 2s are free
Bookings via Capital E

14 Jessie St, Te Aro, Wellington
Monday 3 – Friday 7 October, 10am-10.45am
$12.50 per person; under 2s are free
Bookings via Capital E   

Hannah Playhouse
12-21 October

South Island 
Invercargill // Civic Theatre // 27 October
Christchurch // Isaac Theatre Royal // 31 October – 1 November
Timaru // Theatre Royal // 4 November
Dunedin // Kings & Queens Performing Arts Centre // 8 November
Nelson // Theatre Royal // 14 & 15 November 

CAPITAL E National Arts Festival 2017

Public performance:
Circa Theatre
Saturday 18 March, 11.30am
Suggested Age: 2-5 yrs
Tickets are $16.50 each

The Creative team that brought you Shu’s Song!
Created by Laura Gaudin, Rachel Callinan and Gina Moss

Director Gina Moss
Composition Jason Wright
Designer of Set and Costumes Rose Kirkup
Designer and Maker of Animated Object Steffen Kreft
Lighting Designer Marcus McShane
Shu performed by Laura Gaudin
Playwright Rachel Callinan
Puppeteers Jon Coddington and Rachel Baker
Creative Consultant Nick Blake
The Production/Technical team that sorted all the logistics
Creative Producer Marianne Taylor
Production Manager Sonia Hardie
Tour Manager AmyLouise Mill
Stage Manager Ruth Love
Technical Operator Kelly Kiwha
Set Construction Royal New Zealand Ballet
Costume Construction Anne de Geus
Design Assist Nic Lane

The Capital E Team who dedicate their work to igniting the creative spark in children and young people

Director Stuart Grant
Creative Producer - Theatre Marianne Taylor
Production Manager - Theatre Sonia Hardie
Marketing & Communications Manager Victoria Dadd
Marketing & Publicity Coordinator Pippa Drakeford
Marketing Coordinator Sarah Tuck
Business Manager Morag Zaric
Education Bookings Coordinator Margaret Cranney
Curriculum Resource Writer Caroline Dinnis
Front of House Supervisor Fiona Tucker
Creative Technology Manager Melissa Conway
MediaLab Coordinator Samuel Phillips
OnTV Coordinator Peter Graham
Digital Tutor Kit Benham
Events Coordinator Karen Carey
Visitor Services Host Cara Waretini
Visitor Services Host Elly Holland
Relationship Development Coordinator Amanda Hereaka
Capital E National Theatre for Children Artistic Advisory Panel
Jenny Wake, Amanda Hereaka, Jason Te Kare, Annette Downs, Bevin Linkhorn, Stuart Grant, Marianne Taylor

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

45 mins

Entertaining exploration

Review by Margaret Austin 19th Mar 2017

Shu’s Song, a favourite Capital E production performed this time at Circa, is ostensibly for children, but adults can enjoy it too. Created by Laura Gaudin, Rachel Callinan, and Gina Moss, it presents three characters of a puppet like nature on an interestingly detailed set.

Two of the characters act as foils to the central one – a quirky personage with a cardboard box for a head – whose exploration of objects onstage forms the central action. There isn’t a story, but that doesn’t matter.

We are sufficiently entertained by Shu’s reactions to such things as an old fashioned telephone, a swivel chair, and a typewriter. The duet between typewriter and telephone is particularly delightful.

Lighting from the wings lends an air of intimacy to proceedings, though its dimness makes it difficult to see some of the details of the set. The music is all instrumental, some of it electronic, and it builds to a largely drummed crescendo. 

Children present react most exuberantly when a drawer opens and balloons magically emerge. Then the cupboard above it also opens, revealing intriguingly jiggling objects.

When some kids drift towards the stage in climactic moments of movement and music, mothers restrain them. Pity. 


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A clever, poignant theatre experience for any developing imagination

Review by Tess Jamieson-Kahara 26th Sep 2016

I had the pleasure of seeing this show with a 2, 3, 5, and 6 year old. When I realised there was no talking involved, I wondered how long their attention span would last. Being used to seeing kids shows with bright lights and crazed actors with over the top facials demanding their attention, I guessed not long. So I was amazed to find that every one of them was fully engaged for the whole 45 minutes!

The simple set gives away nothing as you walk in. Shu’s wonderful co-stars set the mellow, quirky scene right off the bat as they hold up signs with a silent cell phone image, point to the exit then camouflage themselves into the curtains to let you know the show has started.

Giggles come straight away at the sight of Shu’s head popping over the bookcase. Shu’s timid demeanour in the mundane environment makes it easy for us to empathise. The more Shu starts to explore his/her environment, making friends with different office equipment along the way, the more engaging and delightful the ride gets.

There’s something eccentric about all the elements of the show put together. The classic office supplies, dated set and humble costumes mixed with the spacey sci-fi music and a stationary cupboard that opens up with glittery shelves, shiny folders and colourful pencils all swaying to the music makes for a truly unique visceral experience.

Using devices such as the raw element of wind, mime and brilliant object animation, this show is one that will surely stick around in the image bank of the kids who see it.

A clever, poignant theatre experience for any developing imagination. Take your kids 🙂 It’s gotta be good for them! 


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Review by John Smythe 17th Apr 2016

Laura Gaudin’s box-headed Shu first appeared in public at BATS Theatre two years ago. Now, by virtue of aCapital E National Theatre for Children commission, Gaudin has joined forces with Playwright Rachel Callinan and Director Gina Moss to create Shu’s Song.

Silently performed by Gaudin, Shu is a vaguely clown-like innocent given to exploring spaces and objects, discovering anything but their true purpose and imaginatively liberating them into new experiences.  In this case the environment being explored is a home office (which is probably off-limits to small children who have them in their homes).

I say “vaguely clown-like” because Shu eschews the direct acknowledgement of, and connection with, the audience which is essential in most clown conventions. Also, unlike most performance masks – neutral, commedia and larval (aka Basel), for example – the square-eyed box is incapable of creating the illusion of emotional expression.

It is remarkable, then, that clad in a simple grey boiler suit, Gaudin’s physicality – abetted by composer Jason Wright’s soundscape – is nevertheless capable of conveying that Shu is fascinated, nervous, delighted, scared, excited, sad or happy.

The premise, then, is that a discarded cardboard box becomes inquisitive and inadvertently gets up to all sorts of mischief when no-one’s around to watch – which makes us hidden, secret voyeurs – and when this anthropomorphised box finds a friend, she values the friendship a lot. It’s a bit like the premise of Toy Story, but in this case a large trunk labelled ‘Toys’ remains resolutely shut throughout.

In another inversion of convention, the ‘Puppeteers’Jon Coddington and Rachel Baker – who animate the other objects, do relate directly to the audience, albeit as subtle side-line commentators during the substantive action rather than as central characters sharing an experience. 

Having discovered the often-surprising properties of a phone cord, address stamp, office chair, ball of string, manual typewriter, date-stamp and snow-generating hole-punch, including the intriguing sounds some of them make, Shu finds herself in ‘conversation’ with the landline telephone.  

It is when she reaches for, and finally gets from the top of a huge wardrobe, a ‘Musictionary’ that blows a gale when opened, then turns the phone into a kite only to have it sail out the window, that she realises she’s lost a friend.

Dancing with desk-lamps offers a distraction, as does discovering bubble-wrap and a balloon-burping wardrobe drawer. Eventually I find myself losing interest these apparently inconsequential actions – is this padding, I wonder, to fill the allotted time? – and I sense a restlessness in some of the children too.

When more experimentation with sound-producing objects gets a response from beyond the window, I realise Shu may have been looking for ways to call the phone back all along. If so, our understanding of this needs to be strengthened in order to sustain our interest by enrolling us in her quest.

The reunion is a happy one, of course, illustrated by a spectacular reveal of the celebratory contents of the huge wardrobe: the ‘icing on the cake’ of Rose Kirkup’s excellent set and costume designs, abetted by Object-Animator Steffen Kreft.  

It has to be said the youngsters in the audience, including those we bring (a 4 year-old girl and 3 year-old boy) are entranced for the whole 45-minutes, apart from that penultimate moment. Even as they begin to ask, “Why …?” they are mysteriously compelled to continue observing the action and are reabsorbed by it.

Capital E National Theatre for Children has a long history of employing talented professionals to create original works of a high standard and Shu’s Song is a creditable addition to their repertoire.  Following this premiere season it heads off on a national tour. With just a little more tweaking Shu’s Song will deliver on its promise to “delight and inspire young people as Shu discovers the secret life of everyday objects in a home office.”


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