Storytime for the Hungry

Mystery Location – meet at 225 Aro Street, Wellington

01/03/2010 - 03/03/2010

NZ Fringe Festival 2010

Production Details

Porridge is for dinner, but these peculiar strangers must entertain for their supper… 

Don’t be alarmed! Before you ask- the strange folk who have appeared on your streets won’t be tamed, can’t be predicted, and might not be strictly human. But they won’t harm you. In fact, once you’ve gotten to know them on neutral territory, you’re invited back to their hiding place for Storytime For The Hungry:  a desperate smorgasbord of tall tales, twisted bedtime stories and precious porridge served while the sun slowly dies. Come on in, you must be hungry… 

“We want to become totally fearless as performers,” says director Rachel Baker, “so we’re going way out of our comfort zones.” The result is a month of manic, clowning-inspired street theatre culminating in three free performances in a mystery location (to be announced on in February). 

Binge Culture Collective are no strangers to Wellington’s streets. You might have seen them creating a life-sized Facebook page in Cuba mall, building a cardboard model of the city onstage in Drowning Bird Plummeting Fish, or as jovial street reapers promoting Downstage’s Good Night The End. This Fringe, the company are taking time to train in clowning, then will leave the safety of the theatre behind and take to the streets to make the entire city their stage. Armed with only their personal clowns and an unquenchable curiosity, they’ll be roaming central Wellington, discovering the city and the people in it. If you see them, feel free to come and make their acquaintance! 

2009’s Drowning Bird Plummeting Fish won "Best Newcomers" at the NZ Fringe and "Most Original Concept" at the Dunedin Fringe and led to an invitation to “gatecrash” Downstage’s Pick of the Fringe. Binge Culture’s next show, Animal Hour, was described as "the kind of underground theatre that is at once the fount, the boundary and the acid test for the wider arts community it lurks beneath" (theatreview).The company makes performance which is “serious fun”; dangerous, immediate and surprising devised work with young Wellington audiences and the real world in mind. They have performed at dance festivals, city streets, public parks, and theatres. Check out the wide range of pictures, news, writing and video on their website,

“Binge Culture get my award for the most exciting new company. Brave, expressive, energetic, hilarious. Their work is messy and explodes off the stage. It’s unusual, thorough and uncomfortable – everything theatre should be.” –Jo Randerson

7.00pm, 1-3 March
– meet at 225 ARO STREET 

Performers: Joel Baxendale, Simon Haren, Claire O’Loughlin and Gareth Hobbes. 

Charming, cheering, feeding

Review by Hannah Smith 02nd Mar 2010

This show is FREE! I love free stuff. So do most of the people who live in the Aro Valley and there are plenty of them wearing jumpers and clutching cushions awaiting the opening performance of Story-time for the Hungry, the latest offering from Binge Culture Collective.

Hailing from Victoria University, Binge Culture took out the Best Newcomers award at last years Fringe Festival and kept themselves busy throughout the last year developing their own particular style of theatre; touring their 2009 Fringe show Drowning Bird, Plummeting Fish and producing a follow up piece entitled Animal Hour. They clearly love what they do and are passionate about performing and creating new work.

This latest piece, under the directorial guidance of Rachel Baker, is the groups’ first foray into clowning. We meet outside 225 Aro St and are led a short distance up the valley to where the clowns are waiting to meet us. Toilette (Claire O’Loughlin) is stirring a bubbling pot of porridge sitting atop a brazier. Once she ascertains that we have come for porridge and a performance she is joined by her clowning compatriots (Joel Baxendale, Simon Haran and Gareth Hobbs) and they proceed to clown their way through making some porridge and feeding it to us. We watch them. Nothing much happens. It is nice.

There are a couple of kids in the audience and they have an absolute riot. They are the keenest to join in; the most amused by the gaggery and half of my pleasure in the performance comes from enjoying their enjoyment. This seems telling to me. Perhaps clowning works best for children. In Baker’s director’s note she says her interest in clowning sprang from a memory of being entranced by clowns in childhood. In general there is something childlike and innocent about this piece, as opposed to the undercurrent of danger that has lurked within Binge Culture’s other work.

There are some really lovely moments. The natural setting offers the opportunity for some surprising entrances and exits, which Simon Haran, in particular, uses very successfully. Music on the accordion and guitar (Baxendale and Hobbs respectively) supports the rest of the performance pleasingly and could perhaps in further work be extended to even greater effect.

This brings me to my next point, which is kind of a sideline, but it seems pertinent, and that is a question of expectation. The audience at this show had a really good time. We were being given something for free and that made us feel generous, the atmosphere was warm and amiable – I had a really uncomplicatedly good time and felt as if I was in the company of some entertaining and well-meaning friends. The fact that there were awkward moments and little hiccups and a bizarre ending that didn’t bear any resemblance to anything else was totally fine. I didn’t care. I didn’t expect a story. I didn’t expect anything really. And I got a FREE show and a FREE meal. 

So, not to name any names or anything, but this is kind of the opposite of other works where prices are high and as a result expectations are also. This is an intriguing thought. Is there a sliding scale? Do we expect more from a show that costs $16 than one that costs $12? How exactly does the logic of this work?

Do not get me wrong; I am not saying that because Binge Culture aren’t charging they aren’t trying. They are clearly hard at work on an art form that is new to them. Go along and have a sweet as time, and if you know any children then take them with you. You will be charmed and cheered and potentially fed.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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