Ubu in paradise

Lectures, talks and seminars

Room 102, 83 Fairlie Terrace

Presented by


In 1998, John Downie wrote and produced in Wellington a theatre play, Ubu in Paradise, which described the arrival of Alfred Jarry's King Ubu on the shores of New Zealand, and his rapacious colonising (literally, eating and devouring) of these islands, up until the triumph of 1990's Rogernomics ‘downhill bicycle race’.

John is currently revisiting, re-working, Jarry’s 1890s creations as the subject of a book of painted images and texts, an ‘illuminated manuscript’, Ubu in Paradise (redux). A fraternity of Ubu-type tyrants are brought into discursive conflict with the ‘pataphysician’ Doctor Faustroll, as we human ‘palcontents’ experience the ever-accelerating global predicament of devouring and laying waste to the fragile biosphere. Trump and Fauci, maybe, or (more gently) Ardern and Bloomfield? The ‘science’, whether medical and economic, instructs us to stop, or at least slow down, or at least, not keep starting up again.

John will elaborate about the process and poesis of this, show images, perform texts.

Speaker Bios

John Downie has had a long professional career as an artist, teacher, and animateur, particularly in performance and media arts. From 1990 to 2012, he was a full-time member of the teaching faculty of Theatre and Film at Victoria University. Now he makes paintings and texts which, together, might suggest imaginative ways of looking at both the past and the future.

For more information contact: Sarah Thomasson