Barbarian Productions

Grand Opening

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The Barbarians have been given the keys to one of Wellington's most historical performance venues - the Opera House - and as you'd expect, we're turning the place upside down, throwing open the doors and letting you in.  So come and join us!

We've been dreaming about an opportunity like this for a long time: A chance to combine our passion for accessible, celebratory community events with our love of grand-scale theatricality. Grand Opening is our contribution to the inaugural CubaDupa Festival, and we hope you will attend one of the free performances that will showcase this spectacular old dame of Wellington architecture.

We've been dedicated to making waves with cult audiences at home and abroad. We are growing into a progressive theatre powerhouse that collaborates with local community groups to make complex, challenging works.

Last year we premiered four new works: a street kiosk for a company of Grim Reapers seeking help to change their image (Help Us Change), an intergenerational dialogue in song performed by choirs from age 6 to 80 (Sing It To My Face), a pop-up political hairdressing salon (Political Cuts) and an epic physical comedy about socio-economic privilege (White Elephant).

We are upping the stakes to bring you our most ambitious project to date. Dozens of artists and community collaborators are joining us to fill the Opera House with exciting voices from all over Wellington.  We are nervous, we are excited and we can't wait to have you there!

We have funding from Creative New Zealand and Wellington City Council for this project. You can help too by assisting us with the cost of costumes and props as well as our Community Liaison Producer, and the venue staffing costs. These support roles are essential to this project to allow so many performers from different community groups to be involved.

Thanks for your support, see you at the Grand Opening.


  • Banging Cymbals all the way to PERTH!


    Hello again everyone!  What a successful show Grand Opening was! 

    Just getting in touch Jo & Geronimo have been selected to take BANGING CYMBAL, CLANGING GONG to FRINGE WORLD in Perth next year.  We are running another boosted campaign and would love your generous support! Off we go to Perth!

    Banging Cymbals all the way to PERTH!
  • It's ready!


    Hello all you generous folks. We promised it - and now it's finally ready! Our mini-documentary about the Grand Opening, shot and edited by Ready! Steady! Studio! is complete.

    We'd like to invite you to join us for a public screening at the Spring Uprising Movie Night this Friday at 7pm.

    If you haven't heard about it already, Spring Uprising is Barbarian's 9-day festival of conversations and works in progress about social engagement and community participatory arts. You'll find a detailed calendar of all the exciting things we're doing here on our website calendar.

    Movie Night will start with a screening by Pie In The Sky of their 8 minute pitch for an incredibly amibitious Aro Community Investment scheme. The launch of our Grand Opening mini-doco will follow, and then you're welcome to stay and settle back for the main feature: a fully authorised screening of 'The Yes Men Are Revolting' (2014) - the latest film from these masters of subversive art activity - as yet unreleased for general admission in NZ!

    This event, and all others in the Spring Uprising, will be held at the Vogelmorn Bowling Club, 93 Mornington Road, Brooklyn.

    We hope to see you there on Friday night - but if for some reason you can't make it we'll send you a link to the video after the launch. We know you're going to love revisiting that crazy triumph of participatory theatre!

    It's ready!
  • Watch This Space!


    Remember all the way back... when, we promised we'd send you a short documentary of the Grand Opening experience?  Well, we haven't forgotten! Our documentary crew had a baby just after the project finished, so the timelines got a little bit elongated (as they do when newborns are involved).  But we came together to check out the rough cut last week - we loved it - and we should have a finished product to share with you all in early July.

    So hang tight, and look forward to reliving the Grand Opening soon!

    Watch This Space!
  • A Glorious Grand Opening Indeed!


    Well, we did it!  We well and truly opened the Opera House to the CubaDuping Public over the weekend with 90 performers working incredibly hard over 10.45 hours to entertain 1016 audience members!

    We had capacity crowds - some of them lining up twice to see the show a second time - and word on the street was uniformly to the tune that this show was the must-see highlight of the CubaDupa festival.

    More feedback:

    "your show was utterly brilliant - I went around twice and both times just as enjoyable"

    "FANTASTIC - I've always wanted to go behind the scenes and also perform at the Opera House!! Wonderful thank you"

    "a fast-paced, patchwork style, little diamond of a play, where the unexpected meets the uncanny. A must see in Wellington this summer. Five stars!"

    "Enjoyed being part of this performaudience"

    "I had so much fun. SO much fun"


    So thank you all for your contributions which made this astounding feat possible. We employed a professional camera crew to document the weekend and in a month or so they will have put together a short film about the process of making and presenting the Grand Opening - so we'll be sure to share that link with you once they're done.

    Until then, thanks again and please visit our website or our Facebook page to follow our activities through the year...

    A Glorious Grand Opening Indeed!
  • See You Next Weekend!


    We made it!  A massive, hearfelt thank you to all of you for helping make this community, participatory theatre celebration the best it can be.

    So now we get into the nitty gritty of production week - we've already done loads of the logistics and preparation but most of the performers haven't really been in the building as yet, so things are going to be pretty exciting!  You can follow our progress on our Facebook page.

    If you're planning to come along and experience the Grand Opening firsthand - and we sincerely hope you are - here are the details about the performance times during next weekend's CubaDupa festival... See you there!

    The show runs continuously throughout each session time listed below. We will admit an audience every 15 minutes, beginning with the start time listed. (ie you can go to the show at 12, 12.15, 12.30, 12.45 etc). Show duration is 30 mins. Capacity is limited. Grand Opening is an interactive show, including climbing stairs and some low light conditions. People who have accessibility requirements, please make yourself known to front of house staff.

    Saturday 28 March

    12pm opens - 2.00pm (last entry)

    4.15pm opens- 6.15pm (last entry)

    9.15pm opens - 10.30pm (last entry)


    Sunday 29 March

    12pm opens -2pm (last entry)

    4pm opens -6pm (last entry)


    See You Next Weekend!
  • The Show Must Go On!


    Well, cherished supporters, this is it! We're 6 hours (or less) away from the end of our campaign and still a grand (or more) shy of our Grand Opening target. Thank you all for your dedication and enthusiasm for the work we do.  It's incredibly buoying.

    Forget X-Factor or whatever else is occupying the nation - tonight Jo and I will be glued to our screens watching our BOOSTED page to see if we make it across the line! It's nail-biting stuff.

    This weekend we assemble an amazing cast together to be our 'Ushers' for the show, and next week we go into production proper - with our community choirs, Russian rock-bands, demented hairdressers, outsider artists and everybody else piling into the building.  So cross your fingers for us, we'll break our legs, and one way or another we'll see you when the curtain raises!

    The Show Must Go On!
  • Meet the Collaborators #2: Jason Muir


    If you visited our pop-up hair salon Political Cuts last year, chances are you met our favourite Wellington hairdresser Jason. There aren't many like him! He's always ready for a wild creative adventure and he was up for a chance to join us in the Opera House from the first invitation.

    We can't explain exactly what it is Jason will be doing in the Grand Opening but you can bet it will be outrageous, the man never does anything by halves. And he'll have his stylists kit with him in case you need a touch up after some of the hair-raising acts you'll experience!

    We asked Jase why he was keen to work on the project:

    "As a hairdresser with more than 20 yrs experience, the creative partnership I have been lucky to form with Barbarian has allowed me to explore unique performance opportunities. The Barbarians' ability to truly listen, communicate and work with so many different creative and performance artists makes them the apex of collaborators. Barbarian is the Alpha and Omega."

    C'mon Jason, you're making us blush!

    Meet the Collaborators #2: Jason Muir
  • Meet the Collaborators #1: Julian & Nino Raphael


    It's only natural that the Raphaels (father and son) have become regular collaborators with Barbarian Productions, given our shared love of people coming together to share a meaningful experience.

    Julian is the Director of Community Music Junction, an amazing enterprise that brings music and song to groups of all ages and abilities, connecting huge numbers of people every year with the spirit and joy that come from creating music together.

    Julian collaborated with Barbarian Productions last year on Sing It To My Face, an intergenerational theatre project where four generations sang chorally arranged expressions of their hopes and fears to one another in the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul.

    “Music and theatre are happy companions and it has been really fulfilling to work alongside the team at Barbarian, making new work and discovering fresh approaches to participation in the arts. Sing it to my Face was powerful and poignant, and connected performers and audiences at a deep level of understanding and involvement. I am anticipating that Grand Opening will have a similar impact in the way that it fuses the roles of performer and audience and gently turns things around.”

    Julian’s son Nino first worked with us all the way back in 2011 when he performed in the first ever season of Yo Future, Barbarian’s collaboration with the Long Cloud Youth Theatre. Nino went on to be instrumental in helping new groups of youth to connect with the project in subsequent seasons in Carterton and Hamilton.

    One of Community Music Junction’s offshoot groups, the Male Vocale male voice choir, performed in our December 2014 premiere of White Elephant to absolutely astounding audience reaction. We are absolutely thrilled that they will again be joining us for the Grand Opening, again led and joined by Nino Raphael.

    “I’m thrilled to be collaborating with Barbarian Productions again, and to be given the chance to work in the Wellington Opera House for the Grand Opening. Knowing full well Barbarian’s passion for community theatre I feel honoured to bringing from my end a class of singers who would not think of themselves as performers but will discover the great pleasure of musical performance for this event”

    Meet the Collaborators #1: Julian & Nino Raphael
  • Meet our Community Liaison Producer: Gaelen MacDonald


    With the sheer numbers of groups and individuals from different communities getting involved in the Grand Opening, we knew we needed someone to keep all those people connected to our vision and to make sure they had a really great time on the production.

    So we created the crucially important role of Community Liaison Producer, and we are delighted to be working again with Gaelen who is a former director of Pablo's Art Studios, and produced our inter-generational community choir performance Sing It To My Face last year.

    We asked Gaelen what was exciting for her about her role in the project?

    "I'm really excited to see how everyone is going to inhabit the Opera House and make the (usually out of reach) site work for them.

    As a Community Partners liaison on Grand Opening, I get to work with a range of community groups and performers and support their vision for how they would like to use this amazing opportunity to explore and present their work in the grand old Opera House.

    I absolutely love facilitating opportunities for creative people to connect with a wider audience and develop their craft!"

    Meet our Community Liaison Producer: Gaelen MacDonald
  • Who or What will you see when the curtain raises?


    The Opera House proscenium arch was one of the largest in Australiasia at the time it opened in 1914. It's a big stage, a big responsibility, and Barbarian is hard at work finding a 'cast of thousands' to do the space proud.

    Keep an eye out for updates as we reveal some of the dozens of collaborators being lined up for this event.

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