Hit show to tour woolsheds

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 09:01 28/11/2013
The Bitches' Box
Mark Dawson

BARKING MAD: Emma Newborn, left, and Amelia Guild are bringing back their hit show The Bitches' Box for a comeback tour of Canterbury woolsheds.

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A local performer's comedy show about farm dogs is touring Canterbury woolsheds after a hit run at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

The Bitches' Box features Canterbury performer Amelia Guild and Auckland actor Emma Newborn impersonating a range of dogs on a typical New Zealand farm, including two working farm dogs confined while they are on heat.

The show won a five-star review in The Times of London during its sold-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe in August and is now on a Canterbury comeback tour.

The show is being performed in woolsheds in small rural towns with a musical first act provided by singer songwriter Mel Parsons.

The success of the Edinburgh show means a UK tour of castles rather than woolsheds could be on the cards for next year along with a possible tour of Australia.

Guild created the show with Newborn in 2011 and first toured New Zealand with it in 2012.

Guild said the show was inspired by her upbringing on her family's Rakaia Gorge farm.

"It is very strongly rural show and that is my community. A lot of my childhood was spent around dogs and we knew them as different personalities.

The central characters are two huntaway bitches on heat. They get locked away in an elevated place out of reach of the dogs. They can be there for quite a while," she said.

"We wondered what two dogs would talk about if they were locked away for a few days"

The idea of touring woolsheds also came from Guild's Canterbury upbringing.

"We wanted to find a viable way of touring and getting the show to its intended audience."

"We grew up with farm woolsheds as the hub for social gatherings and fun evenings. We thought we could make it like a theatre with a velvet curtain. There is a raised, natural stage."

"It worked. The more remote we were the bigger the crowds. People really made an effort to come out."

They also hold a sausage sizzle before the show with proceeds going to the local school.

The show won a rave review in The Times newspaper during its Edinburgh run. The review described the show as "fall-off-the- chair funny, so brilliantly written and executed that only admiration makes you stop snorting."

Guild said they were surprised by the great response in Edinburgh.

"We took a very New Zealand rural show to inner city Edinburgh and we didn't know what response we would get. But, it's dogs and everyone knows dogs."

"The review in The Times was pretty useful. We had full houses from then on. It was amazing."

She said they have plans to possibly expand the show.

"We would love to keep performing it," she said.

"We will probably stay with dogs, but we might bring in some more urban characters." The show will be touring Canterbury towns until Sunday. Visit bitchesbox.com for details.

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- The Press

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