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It’s a magical moment when the lights finally dim, the audience quietens, the curtains draw back and a theatre show begins. Whether it’s your first theatre experience or your 1000th, the anticipation of seeing a unique performance appear right in front of you is unlike any other.

For 21 years Capital E has been igniting and fuelling the spark of creativity in children and young people with digital workshops, public play installations and theatre performances. New Zealand’s leading centre for children’s creativity, Capital E is preparing for their 9th biennial National Arts Festival, a two-week extravaganza of live performance, curated just for young audiences. The festival kicks off in March 2019 and includes a significant education programme that will spark the imagination of children and young people.

Studies have shown that live theatre experiences for children builds focus, empathy and understanding of other cultures and worldviews. In programming the National Arts Festival, Creative Producer Marianne Taylor seeks out work that mirrors the diversity of Aotearoa.

“Theatre is the best platform for not only reflecting the world back to the audience but for exploring new worlds and cultural identity.

“All children deserve to experience the very best in performance art and we’re proud to be bringing such high-quality, diverse theatre work to the children of Wellington and beyond,” says Taylor.

With 187 performances in two weeks, the Festival provides incomparable access to theatre for schools. Students from communities that may not otherwise have the opportunity to see theatre shows are immersed in a full day of entertaining performance that boosts literacy, communication, and focus. To increase accessibility, Capital E is able to offer free buses to bookings of more than 40 people attending a 2-3 show package.

“During the festival Wellington comes alive as the children walk between venues, filled with excitement about the show they’ve just seen, and anticipation for the show to come.

Mouth Open Story Jump Out for the Capital E National Arts Festival 2017. Wellington, NZ. 22.03.17. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court. COPYRIGHT ©Stephen A’Court

“There is no other experience like this for children in New Zealand so we’re really pleased to be able to make this Festival as accessible as possible with help from our supporters,” says Taylor.

The Festival programme, which is delivered in well-known venues in central Wellington, includes Pamela Allen’s beloved tale of Black Dog; a backstory to Patricia Grace’s popular The Kuia and the Spider; and a contemporary Samoan creation story of The Eel and Sina. They’re backed up with performances from Kiwi companies Java Dance with Treat; the New Zealand Opera’s The Barber of Seville; and Trick of the Light’s TRÖLL as well as Capital E’s own Story Studio LIVE and films from the Miramar Events Trust and Capital E partnership Roxy5 Short Film Competition, screening in Young and Cinematic.

The international contingent features performances from dynamic Japanese street performers GABEZ, popular Australian shows Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus and Swamp Juice, and WIND – a beautiful tale from Denmark.

Sarah Rusholme, Director of Capital E says, “With the World Economic Forum identifying creativity as the third most important skill for the future workforce, the next generation need fuel for their imaginations. A day packed with the very best children’s theatre is a powerful inspiration; showing students just how far their imagination and creativity can go.”

The Capital E National Arts Festival for Children school programme runs week days from 11-22 March 2019, more information can be found at


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