Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

03/09/2015 - 26/09/2015

Production Details


Silo Theatre’s third offering for 2015 is a remarkable piece of contemporary theatre that has polarised audiences around the world. Grappling with the unfathomable, acclaimed Scottish playwright David Greig investigates the impact of a mass shooting in a fictional, unnamed village. The multi-award winning The Events will have its Australasian premiere with Silo at Auckland’s Q Theatre from September 3 – 26. 

In the fallout of one horrific act, Claire, a young priest and choir leader, is forced to question the nature of evil and battle with the idea of forgiveness. It’s a journey that will take her to the edge of reason, science, politics and faith

Born out of a deeply troubled and bewildered response to the Anders Breivik attacks in Norway, Greig found there was no shortage of tragic events to draw on, including the murder of Lee Rigby and the 7/7 suicide bombings of 2005. Speaking with the Evening Times about the work, David Greig said, “These things happen a lot and I find myself reading page after page of newspapers, all saying this is because of Islamic fundamentalism or this was because of male violence or American imperialism or gun control, and I found myself feeling this deep unsatisfaction that I couldn’t get to the bottom of it. I wanted to investigate that and when I have that question I usually write a play.” 

Starring Tandi Wright and Beulah Koale with 22 choirs from around Auckland

Returning to the stage after Silo’s 2010 watershed production of When the Rain Stops falling, acting heavyweight Tandi Wright (The Returned, Nothing Trivial, This is Not My Life) will play Claire – a challenging role that requires the kind of skill, finesse and power limited to actors of her calibre. Silo newcomer Beulah Koale (The Last Saint, Black Faggot, Shortland Street) will play both the young gunman and a raft of other roles including girlfriend, psychiatrist and journalist. 

Joining the actors on stage every night will be a different choir from the Auckland region, from North Shore hobbyists to church choirs, the professional Jubilation Gospel Choir to The NZ Young@Heart Chorus. Incorporating these choirs provides a kind of Greek chorus to the action on stage, whilst heightening a major theme in the play, that of community. Each choir experiences the play for the first time along with the audience on their performance night, reacting openly and without pretence to the actions unfolding on stage – a reflection of the audience themselves and the community at large. The choirs learn a set repertoire of music for the show that ranges in style from classical to popular music, elevating the storytelling with a powerful and evocative musical score.

Silo Artistic Director Sophie Roberts was drawn to The Events for its ability to ask big questions in a unique way. “Greig has written a work that explores the construct of community and the demands we place on it. While it’s about a very current issue on a global scale, it’s also a profound study of personal grief and how that can lead us to obsessively search for meaning,” says Roberts. 

David Greig has been described as “one of the most interesting and adventurous British dramatists of his generation” (Daily Telegraph) and “one of the most intellectually stimulating dramatists around” (The Guardian). His previously staged work in New Zealand, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Heart (Auckland Arts Festival, 2013) and Midsummer (Silo Theatre, 2013) were both enthusiastically received by critics and audiences. The Events premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013, where it sold out, received a Fringe First and the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award and was named The Guardian’s best show of 2013. 

The Events is at the cutting edge of contemporary performance and promises audiences a theatrical experience like no other.

3 – 26 September
Rangatira at Q Theatre

For more information and bookings, visit 

Tues and Wed at 7pm
Thurs through Sat at 8pm
Sun at 5pm

Preview: Thurs 03 Sep
Premiere: Fri 04 Sep
Closing: Sat 26 Sep

Direction: Sophie Roberts 
Musical Direction: Robin Kelly
Design: Simon Coleman
Tandi Wright
Beulah Koale
Twenty-two Auckland choirs

Theatre , Musical ,

Asking the Unanswerable

Review by Matt Baker 07th Sep 2015

When we hear reports of mass shootings, we can recognise the actions of, in the case of the forcibly nameless Anders Behring Breivik, a complete stranger in “human” terms. Tragedy without character is comprehensible, but it remains impersonal, however empathetic one may be. So how do we understand beyond the ‘what’ without character motivation? How do we make sense of the senseless?

This is the question that impels choir leader Claire (Tandi Wright) on a journey of discovery, not only of The Boy (Beulah Koale) who perpetrated the titular events she survived, but of herself, and it is the latter that provides the dramatic shift in David Greig’s play; the focus of conflict from the external to the internal. Said shift occurs as Claire confronts various characters; her partner, her psychologist, The Boy’s father (all played by Koale), who act only to catalyse the innate absurdity of the question itself. There is no answer to this question – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek one. [More]


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More poetic, spiritual and still than graphic

Review by Vanessa Byrnes 05th Sep 2015

The Events is a simple, effective and intelligently produced show that centrifugally dances around the question: Why do people commit horrific mass crimes? 

It situates this question with Claire (Tandi Wright), a choirmaster who has been part of a terrifying event in the recent past. She has sacrificed herself in a way we can’t predict at the outset. Most petrifying is not so much the event itself but its effect on her: she has ‘lost her soul’ and this, we come to see, is possibly the most unsettling thing for a victim. She clearly fears that a part of her self has been taken forever and her faith is eroded by what has happened.

As it unfolds we learn that the perpetrator of this mass-victim crime, The Boy (Beulah Koale), is himself a victim of previous events. There’s a racist /Nationalist impetus behind the shooting event but the motivations go deeper. The ‘events’ becomes shorthand for serious crap that’s gone down – sustained or sudden – for which nobody seems directly responsible.

There’s the rub: how can a perpetrator ever really explain why they ‘step inside a 30-second moment’ (to quote the wonderful Celia Lashlie). Are they mad, bad or just plain evil? What do we do with ‘monsters’ and how do we make sense of their actions? These are big questions – possibly unanswerable – and this is the play’s challenge. 

Wright and Koale have a strong chemistry and it’s a big story to carry between these two actors. Wright gives a Claire who is searching and obsessive; now unafraid of death but somehow unable to cope with ‘normal’ existence until she eyeballs her aggressor and inflicts a reciprocal surprise on him. Life is now the challenge for her.

Wright’a return to the stage is welcome; intelligent, focused brave, and capable of upholding a state of agony, she is a gem. Her character’s through-line is direct and this is her strength. Koale is best playing The Boy and he’s a fabulous actor. I do want more delineation though between the several characters he plays against Wright’s single character.

The work’s construction is clever, the writing evocative, and Sophie Roberts’ assured direction takes advantage of the wit in Greig’s script. A stripped-back Rangatira space at Q Theatre brings an epic, church-like quality to the production. Simone Coleman’s lighting and sparse set design is simple and bold. The wooden chairs are a nice touch. I imagine they have more potential to be victims, though, as they populate the stage like quiet visitors waiting to be animated. This kind of interaction may develop further in the season.

Each night a different choir is brought on stage to sing seven hymns and the music offers a comment on the events or actions as they unfold. This in itself is a challenge to conventional norms of theatre, since we have an actual choir next to characters. In its style it seems to be edging towards a rendition of meta-theatre that is aware of its own construction of make-believe. This is a challenge the play throws up, and I have a hunch that it’s wanting to be more connected to actual events such as those in Oslo, Norway, in 2011 where 77 people were killed and 242 others injured. I’m intrigued by this challenge. The final song ‘We’re all here’ unites Claire and the Choir to underline the terrible irony of the song. Tonight’s choir of the more than 24 throughout the season (go Stage Management!) is The Handel Quire and they handle it with grace and simplicity.

When faced with devastating violence and sudden loss, we all react in different ways. I imagine there are more graphic ways of unpicking the resultant trauma of a horrific mass shooting such as the actual events this play is based on. But the work steers away from this graphic territory to offer something more poetic, possibly more spiritual, and more still. Its stillness is its attraction and also, at times, its weak point. Dynamic interaction between the two main performers most potently brings the work to life.

One last thought: the choir has the potential to more directly be a Greek Chorus, observing and making sense of the action. It will be fascinating to see how different groups on stage interact and bring their selves to the fore over the run of this play.


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