Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

01/07/2013 - 13/07/2013

Production Details


It’s become a worldwide phenomenon that no-one is allowed to talk about; information so closely guarded that the performers have never laid eyes on the script and like the audience, the play is unknown until the lights come up and the performer steps onto the stage. Silo’s next production offers up a mischievous theatrical experience that explores where theatre can take you – with White Rabbit, Red Rabbit from July 1st.

Only the bravest performers have taken up the challenge to perform a play, handed to them the moment they walk on stage with no rehearsal, no director and no indication of what the performance will entail. For some it is their worst nightmare. Assured by Silo that this is a production of consequence in the world we live in, the actors only have one task – prepare an ostrich impersonation.

As the play unfolds, both the audience and the performer discover the play in real time, creating a never-the-same, shared experience. Holding hands, performer and audience stumble together into the personal and profound.

Part meta-theatrical experiment, part social experiment, White Rabbit, Red Rabbit requires the performer to become “Nassim Soleimanpour”, as we discover the limitations of liberty, freedom and above all else, the extremes of obedience.

Penned by the then 29 year old Iranian Nassim Soleimanpour, White Rabbit, Red Rabbit became the writer’s ticket to vicariously travel around the world. A conscientious objector, refusing to undertake mandatory military service, Soleimanpour could not obtain a passport.

Instead, from the confines of his own environment, he penned a play that helped him travel the world in his own way and without borders. Be it from reviews posted online, messages to his email address or through blogging and social networking, White Rabbit Red Rabbit is theatre that asks you to leave your phone on, and serendipitously meet Nassim.

By these means, Nassim has “visited” Edinburgh, London, Ireland, the United States, Canada and even Brazil. Upon its performance in Australia earlier this year, it marked a rare occasion that Nassim could watch the performance live – having finally been granted a passport.

Nassim’s proverbial shoes have been filled by an array of incredible performers across the world –as the likes of Arthur Darvill, Tamsin Greig, Juliet Stevenson, Kath & Kim’s Magda Szubanski,filmmaker Ken Loach and even stand-up comedian Mark Watson have take part in this theatrical voyage.

Each performance features one surprise performer. Silo’s season at Q Theatre’s Loft boasts some of New Zealand’s finest performers – the revolving cast includes: Mia Blake, Alison Bruce, Oliver Driver, Jess Holly Bates, Stephen Lovatt, Elizabeth McRae, Pua Magasiva, Natalie Medlock, Jarod Rawiri, Sophie Roberts, Paolo Rotondo, Rima Te Wiata and Jennifer Ward-Lealand… with more to be announced.

Entrust yourself in Silo, as they bring you a future classic we can’t really say much more about.

URGENT: All media and press agents have to keep in mind that the playwright lives in Iran. This play is NOT overtly political, and should not be portrayed as such. It operates on a deeper, metaphoric level, and very expressly avoids overt political comment. Any allusions to it being anti-government could, quite literally, endanger the playwright’s life. We therefore ask the press to be judicious in their reportage.

1st – 13th July 2013, 7pm (Wed/Thurs: 8pm. Additional performances Friday and Saturday at 9pm)
Loft @ Q Theatre, 305 Queen Street, Auckland CBD
Preview: Monday 1st July.
Opening Night: Tuesday 2nd July
Open Dialogue: Wednesday 10th July
Tickets: $20 – $39 (service fees apply).
Bookings: Q Theatre – 09 309 9771 or www.qtheatre.co.nz

Intriguing show pulled anew from actors' hats

Review by Janet McAllister 04th Jul 2013

Oliver Driver, Rima Te Wiata and a dozen other actors aren’t allowed to read this review. They are yet to act in this Silo production, and they are to arrive on stage alone, for one night only each, without any prior knowledge of the slim, intriguing 70-minute script. 

They only know to prepare an ostrich impersonation (Mia Blake, on opening night, raised the bird bar extremely high). [More


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An experience well worth having

Review by Heidi North 03rd Jul 2013

Iranian Nassaim Soleimanour refused to complete compulsory military service for his country. As a result he was denied a passport. So he wrote a play.

It’s difficult to review a piece that is best experienced with just the barest of prior knowledge. In White Rabbit Red Rabbit, like the actor on stage, the audience is asked to take a great leap into the dark. There is just the barest of set, two water glasses and three ladders. There is no lighting to speak of, no artifice.

The actor walks onto the stage is and handed the script for the first time in a sealed envelope. Their only prior knowledge of what will befall them is being asked, 48 hours before coming on stage, to prepare an animal impersonation. This way we all experience the play at the same time. Soleimanpour is as present through his words as the audience and actor are.

What occurs is a revelation. By its very nature it must different every evening, as the actor and the audience undergo a kind of communion with the playwright. It’s a work that pushes the idea of metatheatre to the edge. Not only does Solemianpour remind us of his presence as a playwright, he demands we all acknowledge him. Communicate with him. Instead of standing back he is straining forward. Desperate to be a part of the world he (at the time the play is written) is denied.  

At times hilarious, and at times deeply uncomfortable, there is a wonderful frisson created in the fact that we are all experiencing this together for the first time.  

This rawness is what makes it, and it’s brave of the actor to face what must be close to their worst nightmare: the terrifying prospect of going on stage unrehearsed with no idea of the lines. There is a different performer every night, and on this particular occasion Mia Blake steps up to the challenge admirably.

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. 


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Shh… don’t tell anyone

Review by Sharu Delilkan 03rd Jul 2013

Sometimes the fact that a play makes you think, can be as important as what you actually think about the play itself. This for me was the case with Silo Theatre’s latest production White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, written by young Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour. 

The piece refreshingly challenges the traditional structure of a play itself, blurring the roles of audience, actor, narrator, writer and producer, while using some key analogies to express important concepts such as freedom, choice, knowledge, possibility, lack of knowledge, conformity and compliance. 

Even the actor in this case, Stephen Lovatt, has not seen the script before – the production requiring a new actor each night to keep it fresh and in the dark. [More]


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