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1 Taranaki Street, Wellington | Box Office Ph: 04 801 7992
Duration: 04 October - 08 November 2014

Written by: Lee Hall, Inspired by a book by William Feaver
Directed by: Ross Jolly


From Tony award-winning writer Lee Hall, best known for Billy Elliot, comes this amazing true story of the Ashington group of British miners who in 1934 hired a professor to teach an art appreciation evening class. Rapidly abandoning theory in favour of practice, the pitmen began to paint – prolifically, and unexpectedly became art-world sensations!

A funny, deeply moving and highly entertaining salute to the lives of a group of ordinary men who do extraordinary things, The Pitmen Painters takes you on an unforgettable journey from the depths of the mine to the heights of fame.

Hot on the heels of his Billy Elliot success Lee Hall’sPitmen Painters has wowed huge audiences overseas and will be extremely popular.

“A wonderful piece of theatre: comic, sad and stirring in the same breath” – Financial Times


  • Starring: Gavin Rutherford, Catherine Downes, Phil Vaughan, Richard Dey, Simon Leary, Patrick Davies, Guy Langford, Yael Gezentsvey

  • 04 October − 08 November

    Tuesday and Wednesday 6.30pm

    Thursday to Saturday 8pm

    Sunday 4pm

    Circa Anniversary/Guy Fawkes’ Fireworks Night: Saturday, 8 November 6:30pm performance time

  • Adults $46

    Concession $38

    Friends of Circa (until 19 October) $33

    Groups 6+ $39 20+ $36

    Under 25s $25

  • Great Play Thanks to First Class Cast


    Lee Hall’s play The Pitmen Painters, inspired by real life stories from William Feaver’s book, currently playing at Circa Theatre, not only provides a great nights entertainment but is thought provoking and educative, canvassing such topics as art, culture, education and the working class. But above all it shows, without being patronising or sentimental, that within everyone there is a spark of creativity regardless of class, race or creed.

    The Ashington Group are a bunch of Northumbrian miners who, as part of the Workers’ Educational Association, engage an art teacher from Newcastle, Robert Lyon (Gavin Rutherford), who is as upper class as they are working class, to run an art appreciation class.

    In the group are George (Patrick Davies), the dour stickler for following the committee rules, Oliver (Guy Langford), the sensitive one who has the potential for becoming a professional painter, Jimmy (Richard Dey), the no nonsense down-to-earth tell-it-like-it-is guy. Then there’s the innocent and naïve Young Lad (Simon Leary) and Harry (Phil Vaughan), the only non-miner who relishes quoting Marx at every opportunity but has a heart gold.

    Over a period of 13 years a synergy develops between Lyon and the miners and through the course of the play we see, under Lyon’s tutelage, not only how the group develops and grows but how this is a journey of self discovery for the men, albeit differently for each, and how with no education and little money, they become celebrity painters.

    They are also aided on their journey by Helen Sutherland (Catherine Downes), an extrovert and art patron.

    And in this production what makes Hall’s play work so effectively is Ross Jolly’s astute directing and superb casting of all the characters. Without exception each actor brings a depth and confidence to their performance that not only brings out the humour in the play but often the underlying moments of anguish, anger, animosity and many other emotions as they go on a rollercoaster ride to stardom.

    Also adding much to the success of the production is John Hodgson’s multifunctional set and particularly Johann Nortje’s creative integration of slide projections of the men’s paintings that allows the audience to be involved as much as the characters in the discussion of their work to make this excellent production of a great play a most satisfying evening of theatre.



    David Farrar, Kiwiblog, 10 October 2014


Check out this video: Behind the Canvas: The Pitmen Painters at MTC – contains an interview with playwright Lee Hall, who discusses the play and how he came to write it.

Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes (including interval)


Join us for our 20th Anniversary Celebration of our waterfront building!

On 5 November, 1994, the new Circa building on the waterfront opened with a performance of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. This year, we’re celebrating 20 years of fantastic theatre in this building with a night of brilliant theatre followed by a glass of bubbly while watching a wonderful fireworks display over the harbour! (Ok, the fireworks are for Guy Fawkes Night, but we’ll pretend they’re for us since this is such a great spot to watch them from.)


– Saturday, 8 November

– Attend a performance of The Pitmen Painters at 6.30pm or Isaac’s Eye at 7pm

– Stick around after for a complimentary drink and nibbles (hold onto your show ticket from the evening!), and then watch the fireworks from our prime location on the waterfront

Booking in advance is recommended: visitwww.circa.co.nz or call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992