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The Dreamer

  • The Civic Auckland New Zealand (map)


1-24 March 2019
The Civic

In the 1590s two things happened which would have a massive impact on cultures in both the East and the West. In China, dramatist Tang Xianzu penned the romantic tragicomedy, The Peony Pavilion. Around the same time, William Shakespeare completed his best-known comedic play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Over 400 years later, two companies, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and British physical theatre company Gecko - from east and west - collaborated to create a collision of these two monumental pieces. The result is an extraordinarily beautiful and mesmerising piece of physical and narrative theatre, The Dreamer, coming exclusively to the Auckland Arts Festival in March.

The Dreamer is a lavish stage production, in which the narrative is driven by a combination of dance, live music and spoken word. It is an imaginative, free-flowing work that seamlessly blends movement, melodrama and comedy into the most bewitching and delightful story.

The Dreamer is a feast for the eyes and the ears. It is one of the major theatre productions in the 2019 Auckland Arts Festival and plays 21 to 24 March at The Civic.


“Heart stoppingly thrilling.”

– Broadway Baby

In both The Peony Pavilion and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the central character is out of sorts and subsequently drawn into an otherworld. In The Dreamer, the spotlight is on Du Liniang/Helena, a romantic who is besotted with a young man who barely notices her. Thanks to some mischievous sprites, the heroine is pulled into a dream world, where mayhem ensues.

Premiering in Shanghai, The Dreamer was created as part of the British Council’s worldwide 2016 Shakespeare Lives programme, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and, in the same year, won China’s prestigious One Drama Award for Best Stage Design.

The two companies, Gecko and Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, have not only injected new life into classic texts but given them a vibrant modern twist. Employing Gecko’s trademark physical theatre style, associate director Rich Rusk and devising performer Chris Evans blend emotionally-driven movement, a spine-tingling soundscape, striking visual storytelling, stunning shadow play and an outstanding lineup of Chinese performers to bring a new twist to these classic texts.

The Dreamer
Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre in association with Gecko

The Civic


65 mins, no interval

Recommended for ages 10+
Contains loud noises and adult themes


★★★★★ “A stunning production… this is one show that should be on the top of your list to see this year.” — British Theatre Guide

★★★★ “Vivid, enthralling…Yang Ziyi is a wonderful Helena, sweetly sad and anxious but with a gradually thriving inner spirit.” The Times (UK)

★★★★ “The physical storytelling is so alive.” The List (UK)

★★★★ “Visually stunning… a feast for the eyes.” The Scotsman (UK)

★★★★★ “Visually stunning, audibly mesmerising and heart stoppingly thrilling.” Broadway Baby (UK)

Earlier Event: 17 March
Later Event: 22 March
Grand Finale