World Buskers Festival

Performer's homecoming hit


It's been a long journey home for Christchurch performer David Ladderman.

It's a journey that started at the quake-damaged Loons theatre in Lyttelton before taking him to the Auckland Comedy Festival and then across Canada.

Now, Ladderman's one-man show Battle of the Bastards is being performed for sell-out crowds at the World Buskers Festival in his home town.

The festival run is a homecoming hit for Ladderman, who moved to Christchurch from Australia to attend the Circo Arts school in 1998 and has been an active member of the city's performing arts and busking scene since.

The show tells the story of Edmund the bastard from the William Shakespeare play King Lear, but peppered with busker-style interludes and audience interaction. It was created almost accidentally about 10 years ago when Ladderman needed to hurriedly find some material to fill in for an absent performer at a comedy club. Slowly, the piece grew until it told the whole story of Edmund's ambitious and bloody rise and fall.

"I didn't really know that I was creating a one-man show at the time. It sat on the shelf for years," he said.

The show was dusted off in 2010 and performed at The Loons theatre, where Ladderman is a founding member, as part of a revue.

Then the February 2011 earthquake struck and The Loons theatre was out of action.

"We just thought: 'Let's push it'.

"By now the incident had occurred and things were different and we needed to explore other avenues."

The show was accepted into the Auckland Comedy Festival and then toured a series of fringe festivals across Canada.

The buzz and strong reviews caught the attention of buskers festival artistic director Jodi Wright in Christchurch.

"We used the Auckland Comedy Festival as a launch pad to get to Canadian fringe festivals. Our success there allowed Jodi to have the confidence to bring it here," he said.

Now the show's journey across the world has led to success in his home town, Ladderman is keen to develop his career away from street performing and towards "indoor shows".

"For the long haul, this is what I'm interested in, finding ways to work indoors. It is a different kettle of fish."

He is already developing a new one-man show about medicine-show doctors and a two-hander about mind readers has been accepted into six fringe festivals in Canada this year.

Wright believes Battle of the Bastards will "go places".

"The quakes have been responsible for a lot of creative people having to think differently about how they create," she said.

Battle of the Bastards

Charlie Gates
© Fairfax NZ News