Red Leap Theatre

Owls Do Cry

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Considered the first great New Zealand novel by celebrated author Janet Frame, Owls Do Cry tells of the Withers siblings, Daphne, Chicks, Toby and Francie, and their lives in small town New Zealand following a family tragedy. Bringing the characters, imagery and poetry alive through Red Leap's trademark physical and visual style, Owls Do Cry reveals Frame's insight into our society and communities. We are devising through a personal connection and identification with her language, making this extraordinary piece of literature relevant for all New Zealanders.

Janet Frame's classic novel will be adapted for the stage for the first time by an exciting creative team: Director Julie Nolan, Choreographer Malia Johnson, Designer Penny Fitt and Dramaturgy by Heather Timms.

Cast: Ross McCormack, Margaret Mary Hollins, Ella Becroft, Hannah Lynch, Comfrey Sanders and Arlo Gibson. 

We are running a Boosted campaign to raise $7,000.00 towards our premiere season of Owls Do Cry.

It is incredibly important to us to premiere the show in Ōamaru, where Janet Frame spent much of her childhood and where the novel is largely set. The opportunity to finish shaping the show in the landscape of the novel will contribute powerfully to the tone of the performance.

Our funding unfortunately does not cover the costs of this additional season in Ōamaru, but we believe this is a vital part of the process of making this show and an important and essential way to honour the place where the story is from. 

We will spend our last week of rehearsal in Ōamaru, allowing our cast and creative team the opportunity to finish creating the show in the historic Ōamaru Opera House. We will then have our premiere season there as part of the Waitaki Arts Festival. Following this we will have a season in Auckland at Q Theatre. 

The funds raised from this Boosted campaign will pay for: 

• Transporting the full cast and creative team to Ōamaru 

• Our final week of rehearsal

• Venue hire costs of the historic Ōamaru Opera House

• Accommodation costs 

Performance details:

Ōamaru - Waitaki Arts Festival, Ōamaru Opera House
4-5 October 2019

Auckland - Q Theatre
17 October - 2 November 2019


  • Thank you


    Thank you everyone for contributing to our Boosted campaign!

    Tickets for Owls Do Cry go on sale very soon - but in the meantime here is a sneak preview of our poster.


    Designed by Ian Hammond, with photography by Andi Crown. 

    Thank you
  • We made it!


    We have made it to 100%! Thank you so much for supporting Owls Do Cry, we couldn't do it without you. 

    We will keep you all up to date with how we are going as we start rehearsals on August 19th. 

    We have 38 hours to go, so if you know someone who wanted to jump on board, now is their chance!

    We made it!
  • A portrait by Ian Hammond


    We have been working with the incredible Ian Hammond to design our poster artwork. He has also created 6 stunning portraits of our cast. 

    We are blown away by the support we have received for Owls Do Cry - we are so excited to get back to work on August 19th.

    We have three days left to reach our Boosted target. If you know anyone who you think would like to support this project, let them know!

    A portrait by Ian Hammond
  • Meet Comfrey


    Introducing Comfrey Sanders, one of the cast of Owls Do Cry.

    'And we sat didn’t we, Toby, Chicks and Francie, as the world sits in the morning, unafraid, touching how and why and where, the wonder currency that I take with me, slipped in the lining of my heart.'
    Janet Frame, Owls Do Cry

    We have 13% to go, and 4 days left to reach our target. Thanks so much for supporting us. Spread the word!

    Meet Comfrey
  • Meet Ross, one of the cast of Owls Do Cry


    Introducing Ross McCormack.

    'He looked like a bird, with his mouth down at the corners, the way a fowl looks when the rest of the fowls have been put in for the night, and the realisation of their going has overtaken the last fowl; and she panics; and her beak drops; and that is how Bob Withers' face seemed when he really knew about Francie.'
    Janet Frame, Owls Do Cry

    Thank you everyone for getting us to 81%! We are hugely grateful for your support. 

    Meet Ross, one of the cast of Owls Do Cry
  • The Ōamaru Opera House


    Here is the beautiful Ōamaru Opera House, where we will premiere Owls Do Cry in October.

    All of the funds raised will go towards getting our full creative team down to Ōamaru for our final week of rehearsal and premiere season.

    '...and lastly a photograph of the foreshore with its long sweep of furious and hungry water, the roll down sea the children call it, where you cannot bathe without fear of the undertow, and you bathe carefully, as you live, between the flags; and beware of the tentacles of seaweed and the rush of pebbles being sucked back and back into the sea’s mouth each time it draws breath.'
    Janet Frame, Owls Do Cry

    The Ōamaru Opera House
  • Meet Arlo and Hannah, cast of Owls Do Cry


    We are at 66%! A huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far - we so appreciate your support. 

    Meet two of our beautiful cast - Arlo Gibson and Hannah Lynch. 

    'All the gold finches will follow Francie in a cloud.'

    'Sometimes Toby would drive his truck out to the tip and sit at the wheel watching the sea and river meet, the trout brown water spread out like a lap across the smooth ivory stones; and the hesitant sea, reinforced with tide, saying hush hush hush to its own talking.'
    Janet Frame, Owls Do Cry

    We cannot wait to keep exploring Janet Frame's incredible characters and language. 

    Meet Arlo and Hannah, cast of Owls Do Cry