BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

30/05/2017 - 03/06/2017

Production Details

Will you participate? Will you be manipulated? Will you listen? Will you really listen?

“Despite the powerful message, the piece is not at all heavy handed. Soleimanpour takes us on a journey with plenty of comedy before turning our heads to explore the ways in which we can experience freedom, and how we construct meaning. White Rabbit Red Rabbit is mesmerising to be a part of. It’s an experience well worth having. Go.” Heidi North-Bailey – Theatreview

With no rehearsals, no director, a different actor each performance, and a script waiting in a sealed envelope on stage, internationally acclaimed White Rabbit Red Rabbit, by Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour, is an audacious theatrical experiment and a potent reminder of the transgressive and transformative power of theatre.

Forbidden to leave his native Iran, Soleimanpour wrote a play which travelled the world in his place. The audience joins each different performer on a journey into the unknown; stumbling upon the personal and profound, the limits of liberty and ultimately where theatre can take you. Since its joint premiere in 2011, the play has been translated into 20 different languages and has been performed over 1000 times to audiences all around the world. 

BATS Performers
Keagan Carr Fransch, Ricky Dey, Moana Ete, Daniel Gamboa, Kali Kopae, Salesi Le’ota, Karin McCracken, James Nokise, Jo Randerson and Mick Rose.

Image credit: Will Duignan

Please note: White Rabbit Red Rabbit contains discussion of sensitive themes and is suitable for a mature audience, recommended 15+.  If you have any questions, please contact BATS Front of House Manager Clare Davis on 802 4176 or email clare@bats.co.nz

A BATS Theatre fundraiser
Heyday Dome
30 May – 3 June
At 6:30pm & 9pm

The great White Rabbit Red Rabbit raffle

Buy a raffle ticket at the same time as you buy a ticket to the show to go in the draw to win this fabulous prize pack, and further support our fundraising efforts!

Thanks to our lovely sponsors, the prize pack includes:
An overnight stay in an Executive King Suite at QT Museum Wellington
A $75 voucher at Basque Rooftop Bar
A $50 voucher at The Botanist
A double pass to any BATS Theatre show
2 bottles of Rabbit Ranch wine

To buy a ticket for the raffle only, click here 

BATS Theatre fundraiser

On 1 April 2019, BATS will turn thirty years old! This means that we have plenty of success stories from both sides of the stage. With two different performers every night, White Rabbit Red Rabbit will be a great opportunity to celebrate some of those people who have been a part of the BATS whānau over our thirty year history and help to keep us flying into the future.

This season of White Rabbit Red Rabbit is being made possible by the generous support of Shoreline Partners, The Parkin Foundation, QT Museum Wellington, Rabbit Ranch, Basque, The Botanist and Phantom Billstickers. 

Theatre ,

Experimental play pulls fascinating rabbit out of the hat

Review by Ewen Coleman 02nd Jun 2017

The three essential items for any successful theatrical production are the play, the actors and the audience, and usually the actors have rehearsed the play to be performed before the audience.

But Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour turns all this on its head with his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit by each evening of the play’s run having a different actor perform his play with no director, no rehearsal and only a couple of chairs and two glasses of water as props. [More]


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Exposing and including

Review by Maraea Rakuraku 31st May 2017

The very premise of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is shrouded in secrecy and its performers are some of the most famous in the world.  

One Actor. Two chairs. One table. Two glasses of water. One ladder. Audience participation: lots of it, all designed to get you, the audience to ask yourself about what you will stand by and witness.  What will you allow to happen in your presence? As an audience member. As a human. What kind of person are you?

Is that even revealing too much? Will that ruin the surprise?

In these politicially volatile times, they’re all questions worthy of self examination as the migrant crisis breaks our hearts while simultaneously encouraging xenophobia; as nationalism rages throughout the West and bombs with inappropriate nicknames wreak generational devastation upon the East.

A google search will explain Nassim Soleimanpour’s compelling motivation behind the work.  It’s so alluring: actor turns up; no rehearsal, no director; handed a script in envelope – Action! 

The performance is reliant on the actor: how comfortable they are on stage, how good they are at reading instructions then acting upon them, all while maintaining the audience interest.

The actor in this performance is Ricky Dey who gets an enthusiastic response from portions of the crowd. He’s not above hamming it up and his impressions are memorable. Otherwise, however, he seems to be playing so low key it’s a little bit underwhelming.

There are some very clever observations about time and space which play out in the work. As for the fourth wall, forget about it. This piece requires audience participation. Actually it demands it. I am so relieved I have not sat in the front, though that doesn’t autommatically rule you out. Yes, this is about exposing you but also including you.

The humour is ironic in parts, even if it does seem a little smarmy. Unless that is the delivery. There are some very clever allusions to the writer’s voice, the performer’s voice and eventually the audience. There are very beautiful reminders about connection across State, Peoples and Nations.  

At one stage, I am reminded of those psychological experiments conducted in the 1970s such as the Stanford Prison.

While, I find this a little laboured in some parts (too many blimmin rabbits!) and my attention wanes, I completely understand how the power of this work being performed in a country with current histories of civil unrest is a bastion of political hope. In a theatre in a country where we’re probably a little too polite for our own good (unless of course we’re anonymously bullying on-line), it may miss it’s mark a little. But then I like my politics straight in the guts.

By the audience response, with a the range of ages and cultures present, they definitely get something out of it, even if it is empathy for a shattered actor. Though hearing the younger audience encourage the actor to undertake an action, “for theatre” while, the older audience is simutaneously dissuading such action – that is a little disturbing. In another context or country, dangerous – which just may be the whole purpose of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit.

BATS Theatre is using this as their annual fundraiser. And with a who’s who of BATS alumni, the real power of this work and its differences of interpretation will be something to see at 6.30 pm and 9.00 pm each night until the 3rd June. 


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