BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

26/02/2021 - 28/02/2021

NZ Fringe Festival 2021

Production Details

Using exquisite handcrafted sets and puppets, comedy, storytelling and original songs, The Boy with Wings is an epic fable of one young man’s life-altering journey following only the compass of his spirit, set against the backdrop of a natural miracle that is the great migration of the Kuaka/Bar-tailed Godwits.

“The story telling is beautiful with wonderful puppetry and imaginative sets – a truly magical piece that had our kids and staff spellbound” Andy Heast – Hawkes Bay Arts Festival

A comic, touching, educational and environmental story that links New Zealand to the rest of the world via the epic journey of bird migration, asking the question: how do we listen and trust our inner map? How do we find our own wings?

Currently on tour around New Zealand schools and festivals, this work is resonating with both children and adults alike! Suitable for ages 5 to 95!

Birdlife Productions are a theatrical partnership committed to creating theatre to inspire, delight and inform. Between them they have over 30 years’ experience telling stories, making things, and creating memories for young and old! As well as writing their own material, they make all their own puppets, props, masks and sets, incorporating live music and plenty of wonder! They recently completed further training at The John Bolton Theatre School in Melbourne.

Past Productions and awards include:
2015 Birdlife, 2016 Kokako’s Song, 2018 Kotuku and the Moon Child, 2019 Box of Birds
WINNER: PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD Festival Valise, Poland.
2019 WINNER: GREEN LIGHT LIST AWARD New Zealand Fringe, 2019

WINNER: OUTSTANDING DESIGN Dunedin Fringe Festival, 2019
NOMINATED: BEST FAMILY SHOW Guildford Fringe Festival, UK, 2019
NOMINATED: BEST VISITING SHOW Dunedin Theatre Awards, 2019
Find out more:

BATS Theatre, The Random Stage
26 – 28 February 2021
Fri 26, 6:30pm
Sat 27 & Sun 28, 11am & 2pm
The Difference $40
Adult $16
Group of 4 Price $50 (4 tickets only) $12.50
Child Aged 12 or Under $12.50
Addict Cardholder $12

The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

Theatre , Puppetry , Family ,

50 mins

Gorgeous puppets bring journey of kuaka to life

Review by Sonya Stewart 01st Mar 2021

The delightfully clumsy Professor Beatrice Bartholomew (Bridget Sanders) is here to talk to us about the kuaka/bar-tailed godwit. Technically challenged, her enthusiasm and passion for these marvellous birds who travel from NZ to Alaska for breeding and back is infectious.

One kuaka particularly special to the Professor is EB53, who she has been tracking on her yearly migration of up to 30,000 miles. Part of Māori mythology, the kuaka were seen as mysterious birds who were a signal of the arrival of spring. [More


Make a comment

Beautiful worlds made from everyday objects

Review by Ines Maria Almeida 28th Feb 2021

Birdlife Productions loves a good story and with The Boy With Wings they’re here to share that love with Wellington. Bridget and Roger Sanders created this gem of a puppet show, about finding one’s wings, during lockdown.  

I can imagine that it must have been cathartic of sorts, to focus on creating a touching story about hope and the unimaginable struggle the Kuaka (or Bar-tailed Godwits) take on their long migration from New Zealand to Alaska while being stuck in the confines of their home. And if you’re like me, and you don’t know much about Kuaka, you’re in for a treat.

These birds know a thing or two about living life to its fullest, taking huge risks during a 30,000km round trip following nothing but an inner map that compels them forward. So it’s natural that just a few minutes in I find myself silently posing the questions: How do I find my own wings? And what is my own inner map telling me?

As much as this story is about birds, it’s also about following our dreams – something many of us are told not to do when we’re young (and older, for that matter).

The protagonist is Jack, a young man who has a dream about finding a treasure. If you’re familiar with Brazilian writer Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, you’ll pick up on his influence here. Jack sets out on a quest to find a treasure, but not the kind of treasure you’re thinking of. He needs something to help fix his homeland, as the trees he loves so much are dying – which also might be why the birds are leaving.

The story is a classic hero’s journey but the set is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The Sanders duo know how to construct beautiful worlds in your everyday cardboard box. I’m still awestruck by the shiny blue fabric that makes up the roiling seas as Jack progresses on his adventure.

It’s easy to get carried away with the stunning craftwork and puppetry, and Roger’s gentle singing and strumming on the guitar, but I’m pulled abruptly back into reality when a child a few rows behind me yells: “What’s the point of this movie?! It’s so dumb!”. No one says anything and the performers continue on without missing a beat. But you can feel the energy shift in the small BATS theatre, a collective wishing that the child’s parent will step up and hush their rude child. It’s sad that a child can’t see the beauty in the slow art of puppetry, and would rather be entertained by some CGI tricks on a screen. But I digress.

While I wouldn’t say The Boy with Wings is for everyone from age 5-95, it’s a sweet tale for younger, well-behaved children ages 5-10 who still believe in a bit of magic. And there’s plenty for adults to ponder, too. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council