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The New Zealand Post season of Ship Songs

The New Zealand Post season of Ship Songs

SHIP SONGS traverses the symbolic connection between the sea, the human capacity for love and everyone’s quest to reach the shore.

The New Zealand Post season of SHIP SONGS, written and performed by celebrated actor Ian Hughes (BARE, SHORTLAND STREET, TOPLESS WOMEN TALK ABOUT THEIR LIVES), sails into port on August 6 to The PumpHouse Theatre, Takapuna before touring the Auckland region with performances in the Herald Theatre in Auckland City, The PlayHouse in Glen Eden and the Howick Little Theatre.

Alive with theatrical invention, this new solo play weaves together cutting edge animation, shipboard romances, epic tales and roguish folklore from the seven seas. With original seas shanties from award winning musician Don McGlashan (THE FRONT LAWN, THE MUTTONBIRDS), SHIP SONGS is inspired by the true story of how Ian’s mum met his dad following an amazing ocean-board adventure.

SHIP SONGS enacts three narratives spanning several centuries– from the true story of Ian’s mothers’ fateful journey on the Manchester Progress in 1963; to a British convict ship sailing the waters off New Zealand in the late 1790’s; to an Imperial treasure fleet under the command of the famous Chinese eunuch admiral Cheng Ho in 1405.

SHIP SONGS is Ian’s first play and has undergone an extensive 18 month development process. The idea emerged from an Auckland Theatre Company Master Class in 2007 with leading Australian theatre director John Bolton, where the focus was on was on story telling and self-devised work.

Lynne Cardy, Auckland Theatre Company’s Creative Development Manager, was immediately impressed. “Everyone was enthralled by the story of how Ian’s parents met – a story that Ian had only just heard, never guessing the romantic and adventurous beginnings of his parent’s relationship. The resonance of that story, together with the ideas Ian explored in the Master Class had the makings of a very exciting piece of theatre that sang out for further development”.

SHIP SONGS is directed by Anna Marbrook and features design from John Verryt and spectacular animation and visuals developed by Michael Hodgson (PITCH BLACK) that includes art work by Ian, a graduate of the Elam School of Fine Arts.

“Fortunately we have been able to bring together some of our finest practitioners to work with Ian on this project over the last 18 months. This is a multi disciplinary, creative collaboration that blends the time-honoured art of storytelling with cutting edge animation and original music” says Auckland Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Colin McColl.

“Every family has its own story to tell about migrating to New Zealand. By touring SHIP SONGS to theatres across Auckland we’re enabling people to access a local story, at a local venue” says McColl.

Auckland Theatre Company’s Literary Unit, which supported this work through its public playreading process, plays an important role in bringing new New Zealand work like SHIP SONGS to the stage. Over the last 7 years the Literary Unit has worked with 55 different playwrights and 100’s of actors on new scripts in development. For the last two years, New Zealand Post has been an active supporter of the Literary Unit and is the presenting sponsor of both SHIP SONGS and ATC’s showcase of new New Zealand work, The Next Stage.



Written and performed by Ian Hughes
With songs and music by Don McGlashan
Directed by Anna Marbrook
Designers: John Verryt, Michael Hodgson, Jeremy Fern and Grant Bowyer.

PumpHouse Theatre, August 6 – August 10
Wednesday 6:30pm,
Thursday – Saturday 8:00pm
Matinee Saturday August 9 at 2:00pm
Sunday August 10 4:00pm

The Herald Theatre, August 14 – September 7
Tuesday – Wednesday 6:30pm
Thursday – Saturday 8:00pm
Matinee Saturday August 23 at 2:00
Sundays 4:00

The Playhouse, Glen Eden, September 12 – September 14
Friday – Saturday 8:00
Sunday 4:00

Howick Little Theatre, September 17 – September 21
Wednesday 6:30pm
Thursday – Saturday 8:00
Matinee Saturday September 20 at 2:00
Sunday 4:00



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