Ancient storytelling evokes connection

Last night, our audience was treated to a spell-binding performance by a veteran of theatre, John G Davies.

'Te Tupua - The Goblin' tells the story of a young Scottish lad, driven into slavery aboard his Majesty's ship, circa 1800. After 15 years at sea, he washed up on the shores of Aotearoa and began his fight for survival. From a slave to a warrior, a peacemaker to an escapee, the story unfolded with humour, heartbreak and no small amount of skill.
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John told this story, utilising talent and presence rarely seen on our stage. His voice carried through the theatre as he embodied multitudes of fascinating characters - from our hapless protagonist to the colourful individuals he encountered on his journey. It was genuinely incredible to witness John command our imaginations and, with minimal props and set dressing, conjure up such vivid imagery.

He took us aboard a massive ship making its perilous journey to Cape Jackson and showed us the majesty of old Aotearoa in its former glory. He brought us to the ferocity of Māori battles and then let us experience the peace and love Te Tupua found for himself. And then John showed us utter heartbreak before leading us back to England where Te Tupua’s story found its end.

John has spent 50 years training in traditional acting technique, Greek chorus and poetic writing, Noh Theatre and Capoeira. Combined with his significant commitment to learning te reo Māori, is an avid amateur historian, particularly the history of Aotearoa. All of these factors had a presence in this solo work. The ancient Greek drama and the Japanese Noh Theatre continuing to inspire and guide his work.
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Following the conclusion of this show, John treated us to an open Q&A session where we learned more about his process and the history of Māori and Pakeha in Aotearoa. John’s performance, knowledge and passion was inspiring and many attendees left feeling incredibly moved. We were especially delighted to learn this was not his first time under our roof; he was part of The Red Mole Theatre company, performing 'I'll never dance down Bugis Street Again’ in The Lyric in 1982 which one of our audience members had attended at the time. 

Thank you so much John, for bringing your gifts of talent and love to our theatre. To witness such a historical, emotional and fascinating story upon our stage was uniquely wonderful.