Opera House - Toitoi, Hawkes Bay Arts & Events Centre, Hastings

22/10/2021 - 22/10/2021

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

24/06/2020 - 27/06/2020

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

31/03/2021 - 10/04/2021

Production Details

PRODUCTION BY Circo Aereo and Thom Monckton
DIRECTOR Sanna Silvennoinen
SOUND DESIGN Tuomas Norvio and Atte Kantonen
CONSULTANT Eveliina Hämäläinen
COMPANY Circo Aereo 


NZ premiere in collaboration with Circa Theatre & A Mulled Whine  

An artist arrives at his paint-spattered studio ready to create a new work. He waits for inspiration. When it finally comes, things don’t proceed quite as he would wish. For this artist, every task is filled with challenges – chaos is unavoidable.

When international circus sensation Thomas Monckton came home to New Zealand earlier this year, it was to debut his new solo physical theatre and contemporary circus show for NZ audiences. The Artist was mere days out from its scheduled opening at Circa Theatre when Circa and the company made the difficult decision to postpone and close the theatre doors. On what would have been opening night, the country went into lockdown.

Now – three months after Thom’s arrival in Aotearoa – The Artist is bouncing back for an exclusive Sneak Preview Season. It will be the very first live performances to return to the building, marking Circa’s triumphant return into the space.

From the creators of smash-hit The Pianist, Monckton’s new show is an exceptional feat of theatre, comedy and storytelling – entirely without words and packed with physical spectacle. The Artist makes a fine art out of physical comedy.

“Thomas Monckton is a performer to behold. His show is a feast I would love to devour again and again.” – Theatreview (NZ)

“It is always enjoyable to witness a perfect performance” – Helsingin Sanomat (FIN)

“Thomas Monckton is a comic genius” – The Dominion Post (NZ)

“Embodies the art of laughter” – The Times

“A sister show to The Pianist, The Artist is an incredible feat of physical strength, skilled theatrics, and comedic storytelling. To be in the audience of a Thom Monckton performance is simply spellbinding, as he makes a spectacular experience out of the ordinary.  His ability to hold our attention and make us laugh is a masterclass in clowning” – Scotsman (UK)

Created by Thom Monckton & Sanna Silvennoinen

Thomas Monckton is an award-winning physical theatre and circus performer originally from Patea, South Taranaki. Monckton trained for two yearsat Christchurch circus school CircoArts and two years at the physical theatre school Lecoq in Paris. He has now been based in Helsinki, Finland for several years, where he collaborates frequently with Circo Aereo and Kallo Collective. His previous works The Pianist, Only Bones v1.0, and Moving Stationery have all earned considerable acclaim:

** Best in Fringe – NZ Fringe, 2019 **
** Best in Fringe – Auckland Fringe, 2019 **
** Total Theatre Award for Best Circus Show – Edinburgh Fringe, 2014 **
** Grant Tilly Award for Actor of the Year – Chapman Tripp Wellington Theatre Awards, 2012 **
** Best in Fringe – NZ Fringe, 2012 **
** Best Theatre – NZ Fringe, 2012 **

Circo Aereo is an international contemporary circus group from Finland. Currently one of the most active Finnish groups performing abroad, Circo Aereo is among the flagships of Finnish cultural exports. Director Sanna Silvennoinen is one of the artistic directors of the group.

Circa One
Weds 24th – Sat 27th June 2020
Exclusive “Sneak Preview” 4-night season!
Limited 140 seat capacity per show! Don’t miss out!
Weds 24th & Thurs 25th June – 6.30pm
Fri 26th & Sat 27th June – 8pm
$25 Under 25s
$38 Friends of Circa
$42 Concession
$52 Adult
Book Now!

Limited capacity of 140 in 224-seat theatre
General admission seating so patrons can space out from other groups/bubbles
Hand sanitiser at the theatre entry, Box Office, bar, bathrooms, and by the water cooler
The building has had a thorough clean by both cleaners and Box Office staff
All bookings have a name, email and contact phone number associated for contact tracing


After a sell-out 2020 season, The Artist returns to Circa!

“This world-class performer has accomplished what feels like a full day’s work in his artist’s studio with an ease that belies the years of training that have brought him to this exquisite moment.” – Theatreview (NZ)

“It is always enjoyable to witness a perfect performance” – Helsingin Sanomat (FIN) 2

“Monckton is a delight” ★★★★★– The Stage (UK)

“A masterpiece of hilarious chaos” – Scotsman (UK)

“Thomas Monckton is a comic genius.” – The Dominion Post (NZ)

Circa One
31 March – 10 April 2021
$30 Preview – Tues 30 March
Tue – Thur 6.30pm; Fri – Sat 8pm & Sun 4pm
$25 – $52
Book Now!

Opera House – Toitoi
Friday 22 October
Adult $49.00 | Concession $44.00 | Child – 12 and under $24.00
Adult – A Reserve $49.00 | Adult – B Reserve $39.00
Concession – A Reserve $44.00| Concession – B Reserve $34.00
Child – B Reserve Section Only $24.00

Theatre , Clown , Circus ,

1 hr

Captivating physical theatre

Review by Ken Keys 23rd Oct 2021

To its massive credit, the Hawkes Bay Arts Festival has battled through Covid to keep the Arts alive, especially in their beautiful Base-Venue, the H.B. Opera House, or, these days, Toi-Toi.  

Last night’s mime extravaganza, The Artist, by Patea-born, CircoArts and Paris (Lecoq)-trained Thomas Monckton, is a delightful one-hour long exhibition of; mime/movement physical theatre at its zaniest and most accomplished.

A small, carefully-managed audience loves every moment!

As for all classical mime exponents, the most restricted of settings, the most humdrum of experiences, are enough to set free a bubbling imagination; with physical and facial contortions, all conveyed through a ‘classical’ clown-type character  being confused, gleeful, inane, delighted, curious, excited, bored, exploratory … Think Charlie Chaplin or Marcel Marceau – in this case, all within the confines of the artist’s studio.

The props?  Easels, canvases and all the accoutrements of the archetypal artists….the standard fruit bowl, the standard self-portrait (though, in this case, painted upside-down!).

How can you staple together the 4 wooden sides of a painting frame and get it wrong and then tie your body in knots climbing in and out of the frame? And the ramifications of accidentally stapling your sock to the frame, not to mention climbing a ladder to get the paint brushes, obviously just out of reach on the top shelf – although ‘climbing a ladder’ is a misnomer for a series of amazing balancing exhibitions!

A standard paint palette becomes a table-tennis bat and leads to a hilarious “batting” interchange with the audience. Brushes and picture-frames become an excuse for some zany juggling and even flicking ones spectacles on to ones face becomes an epic feat!

However, who needs props? Not Thomas. Folding his arms becomes a hilarious exploration of the limbs!!!

But the climax? For me, and most of the enthralled audience, the Water Drip is the real ‘coup de theatre’. Brilliant! A steady drip, captured by the astute stage lighting, becomes, from the start, an event of fascination for audience and artist alike.

The fact that a section of the stage is now dangerously wet, leads, inevitably, to some hair-raising slipping and sliding, just as potentially catastrophic as the ladder-clambering earlier.

Physical theatre/mime has always lent itself to satire in this crazy world (Chaplin’s The Great Dictator) and Thomas’s final scene does just that. With all the paintings assembled for an up-market exhibition, he becomes the wine-sipping, superior, artistic ‘expert’ examining the collection with all the appropriate disgust/contempt/fawning admiration of the usual ‘aficionados’.

Thomas has performed his captivating physical theatre works all over Scandinavia, Europe, the Far-East and Australasia, and has been called “a delight”, a “comic genius” and a “maverick surrealist”. I think all of last night’s audience would endorse all of those salutations.

And congratulations to Pitsch Leiser and his wonderful Arts Fest team, for keeping the flag flying (despite the loss of 60% of the shows); for their warm and expert management of the drip-fed audience; preceded by the beautiful ante-room (the HUB) where one can relax with drinks, nibbles and good conversation! 


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Adult absurdity at its best

Review by Margaret Austin 01st Apr 2021

We’re Kiwis – and look what we’ve hatched! Thom Monckton, the eponymous artist of this show, hails from Patea, South Taranaki. He’s one of us! – albeit with two years of training at the Christchurch Circus School and two more at the Lecoq physical theatre school in Paris – something not all of us can boast of. Not to mention his years with Circo Aereo in Helsinki, Finland, where Monckton bases himself.

We’re an extra expectant audience on Monckton’s first return-season night at Circa (he premiered The Artist at Circa last year, just before Lockdown). Those of us who witnessed his astonishing prowess in The Pianist (at Circa in 2014 then 2015) are already familiar with his physical strength and dexterity – and the contrived clumsiness which points them up to hilarious effect.

Our Artist, lanky and bespectacled, is in his studio, awaiting inspiration for a new work. We watch with happy absorption his attempts to staple gun a canvass to an unruly frame, his experimental rearrangements of fruit and a bottle of wine in preparation for a potential still life, and his struggles with a ladder. 

It’s difficult to say who’s enjoying themselves more – audience or performer. I remind myself that Monckton’s gymnastics have to be balanced with the discipline of impeccable timing and mighty fast reflexes. He’s working hard.

I’m also appreciating the childlike aspect of what we’re watching. Inventiveness – exploring the possibilities of objects – is something children do. Not, unfortunately, to the same gloriously entertaining effect. Just watch Monckton with his palette. Audiences always love acknowledgment of their presence. We get this in the form of a nod in the direction of an audible comment or a stare at an inadvertent laugh. Then there’s the ping pong – but I’ll leave that to your imagination.  

Special mention should be made of lighting and music – Lighting Design by Juho Rahijärvi; Sound Design by Tuomas Norvio and Atte Kantonen – all finely tuned to this magical performance. Well done too to the New Zealand production team.

Are we watching a clown? Well, there’s lots of hilarious action reminiscent of the circus. No white paint though – just plenty of paint! This is contemporary clown, à la Lecoq.

Treat yourself to Monckton – he’s adult absurdity at its best. 


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Exquisite artistry

Review by John Smythe 25th Jun 2020

Live theatre is back – live in the theatre with an actual live audience! And what better way to celebrate it than with The Artist: a brand new Thom Monckton contemporary clown show – albeit one that has had to hibernate for three months thanks to the Covid-19 safety measures. Thank goodness this is where he locked down and he has stayed in level One long enough to treat us to this exclusive Sneak Preview Season (sold out, now, but scheduled to return next year).

artist n. 1 a person who produces works of art, especially paintings. 2 a person who does something with exceptional skill. 3 a professional entertainer. 4 colloq. (as the final element in compounds) a habitual practitioner of a specified (usu. reprehensible) activity; booze artist; bull-artist; con artist; etc. [The New Zealand Oxford Paperback Dictionary

Thom Monckton is all of the above except, as a habitual practitioner of the art of clowning, his artistry is anything but reprehensible. Certainly if there is a complicated way of achieving a simple task, he’ll go that way – but the result always makes it thoroughly commendable, entertainment-wise.  

Clown logic is quickly established with the easel gag, the shirt gag and the drip gag – which becomes something of a running gag although it always remains a drip. The processes of constructing a frame, stretching the canvas and stapling it to said frame become works of art in themselves. Did someone say, “Put a sock in it?” He does and ups the ante with gasp-inducing acrobatics.  

The artist’s plan is to paint a still life: fruit basket, wine bottle and glass. Who knew what gems of clownish insights could be explored through something so simple! It is a veritable salad of delights. As for solving the problem of where the paint brushes have been placed … Let’s just say he reaches new heights of acrobatic comedy.

Seemingly incidental tricks come to the fore too, involving paint brushes and his spectacles: spectacular enough to earn whoops of praise and delighted applause. Monckton’s instant responsiveness to the odd unexpected noise or audience reaction attests to his truly being ‘in the moment’. Indeed everything which must, on reflection, have been meticulously planned and thoroughly rehearsed is made to seem spontaneous – discovered in-the-moment with all the innocence of the classical clown.

The artist’s palette allows him to have a ball interacting with the audience. But when he becomes trapped in his canvass the physicality blends with metaphysics, recalling a sequence in the last show Monckton brought to Circa One: The Pianist. There is mystery, too, in how he actually does what he does in there.

What with all this procrastination I, at least, have decided he’ll never get round to actually painting which is fine by me – and then (spoiler alert?) he is about to! His collaboration with one audience member involves risk and confidence in equal measure. This opening night, consummate improviser Christine Brooks steps up to the role splendidly. And yes, there is painting.

It all comes together with a show of the gallery opening kind, with Monckton’s clown himself perambulating as the Art Critic. In just 45 minutes this world-class performer has accomplished what feels like a full day’s work in his artist’s studio with an ease that belies the years of training that have brought him to this exquisite moment. 


John Smythe June 27th, 2020

Thank you Christine. I was quite clear that you were chosen because the colour of your hair matched the unfinished painting. And I expect Thom has an intuitive sense of who will rise to the occasion. 

Christine Brooks June 26th, 2020

Hi John,

A couple of people on the night asked me if I was an 'audience plant' so I thought I'd clarify that I was not! I very much enjoyed my small part of the opening night show but it was not pre-arranged. 


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