If there’s one thing you can say about mankind, there’s nothing kind about man – Tom Waits
Roll up, ladies and gentlemen! A dark carnival is coming to town.
A carnival sideshow in an army barracks, our military band will pump out rousing surrealistic songs and other fairground entertainments providing sarcastic comments on the human condition and the act of civilisation.
The third in the acclaimed Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan and Robert Wilson musicals, which began with The Black Rider and Alice, Woyzeck is a “fragmented, nightmare-like fable”.
…it’s like a hammer or it’s a tool or it’s a vehicle. It deals with madness and children and obsession and murder - all the things that we care about and care about now as we did then. It’s wild and sexy and curious and catches your imagination and makes you wonder about the people in it and it makes you reflect on your own life
The story shows how a good man is turned by society into a murderer. In our version Woyzeck is played by a woman. This gives the actor the opportunity to also explore man and male behaviour, discovering that “man is an abyss - you get dizzy when you look down into it“ (Georg Büchner, the original playwright).
Woyzeck is played by Hester Ullyart who is joined by a mix of experienced local performers: actors - Hillary Moulder, Tom Trevella, Aaron Boyce, Chris Carrow, Marian McCurdy and Greta Bond; and musicians - Reuben Derrick, Sam White, Nicole Reddington and Doug Brush.
Directed by Peter Falkenberg with design by Stuart Lloyd-Harris and costume and make-up by Jenny Ritchie, the recently restored heritage Pump House provides the perfect setting.
Thanks so much to the many supporters of our Boost Ōtautahi crowdfunding campaign in May 2022 for keeping our project alive with your generous donations and encouragement.
Woyzeck is also being supported by The Lion Foundation, Aotearoa Gaming Trust, Pub Charity, Creative Communities Christchurch and the Canterbury Arts and Heritage Trust (CAHT).
Woyzeck was the first production Free Theatre ever produced in 1980 and we're excited to return to this story.
Original 1980 Free Theatre artists
Woyzeck - John McClatchie
Marie - Stephanie Johnson
The captain - Mark di Somma
The doctor, The Jew - Nick Frost
The drum-major, The ape, The horse - Godfrey Sim
The barker - Karl Knaup
Lighting Operator - Roger Phillips
Stage Manager - Sue Donaldson
Poster - Geraldine Oliver
Directed by - Peter Falkenberg
"What a night, we've been talking about it since. The cast and band were wonderful. The Pumphouse was such a brilliant, evocative backdrop"
- Margaret Meehan
- Duncan Webb, MP Christchurch Central
"So fantastic. Loved the premiere!"
- Anke Richter
"Not a ‘classic’ musical, by any means… but this production, which has sold well already, is part of the variety and vibrancy of our theatre scene in Christchurch."
- Craig Ogilvie, General Manager of Showbiz Christchurch
"What an amazing show. Mesmerising! What a triumph. Congratulations"
- Julie Bates
"What a show!! Incredible talent on display tonight, man o man, the singing! The Pump House is a fabulous venue too. So wonderful to see Council funding supporting the arts and of course our artists. Thank you wholeheartedly for in invitation, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening."
- Victoria Henstock, Councillor for Papanui
"Extraordinary production by Free Theatre Christchurch of the acclaimed musical “Woyzeck” at The Pumphouse on Tuam St. What an incredible venue! Get on down to see it before the end of the run."
- Tyrone Fields, Councillor for Banks Peninsula
"Chilling performance. I loved every bit. Great cast, excellent band. All the World is Green was one of the best versions I ever listened. Very well done"
- Luciano Nascimento
"...what a fabulous time we had on Wednesday. It was a brilliant production and left us on a lovely high. Hester was pretty amazing in her role and the way in which she conveyed Woyzeck's anxiety and the unsettled nature of his mental state; being battered by the insults and enforced poverty of his oppressors. [The] doctor was also fantastic. God's Away On Business blew our socks off. The audience all rowing was genius. Just brilliant!"
- Ray Ince and Claire Macdonald
"Great production of the Tom Waits musical Woyzeck by Free Theatre Christchurch last night - and an awesome venue at the old Pump House on Tuam St."
- Sara Templeton, Councillor for Heathcote
"The show was magnificent ❤️"
- Martine F Saltoun
"We went tonite - so, so very good! Dont miss it!"
- Garry Thomas
"Gotta say the set was utterly fantastic too!! 🙌"
- Annie Hayward
"What an absolute delight"
- John Minto
Media, Interviews and Reviews:
Interview for Toi Ōtautahi with Zara Potts and Producer Marian McCurdy Read here.
The RDU Burnt Breakfast with Liam - interview with Hester Ullyart -
The Press article - Salvage yard becomes theatre for new Tom Waits musical in Christchurch, Charlie Gates, 19:00, Apr 09 2023
Review: Woyzeck – an avant-garde musical about misery
Posted on April 15, 2023 by erinharringtonnz for Flat City Fieldnotes
Woyzeck is as stylish, assertive and focused a production as you would expect from Free Theatre.
Review: Reveals the essential tackiness of much we associate with power and influence - Review by Lindsay Clark 18th Apr 2023 for Theatreview
The dark vision of the nineteenth century original and its uncompromising critique of the powerful in society aligns perfectly with the theatrical strengths of the Free Theatre company.
Review: Woyzeck ( The Tom Waits Musical) - Review by Liam Stretch on Wed 26th Apr for Backstage Christchurch
an immersive experience that transports the audience into a world of esoteric steampunk fever dreams....I’m so glad I left the house on a very cold Wednesday night to be presented with a flagon full of joyous chaos"
Review: Woyzeck. Free Theatre - Review by Jennifer Shennan for Michelle Potter....on dancing. 30th Apr
...there won’t be many productions to outshine this one. The cast brims with actors who can really sing, singers who can really dance, dancers who can really act, and none of them is clone to the others. (How refreshing. That doesn’t happen often in my town). The throbbing band onstage—sax, bass, guitar and drums ̶ provides the transport and are terrific."