News & Events

Comedy gets medieval in Saturday Knights

Friday October 15 2021

Dungeons and Dragons becomes live theatre as audiences watch six adventurers trek through comedic peril in Saturday Knights, which is coming to Palmy on the first Saturday of the month from November.

Photo shows group of people playing Dungeons and Dragons.

The Saturday Knights show promises engaging stories, compelling characters and off-the-cuff comedy, using the format of the popular tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

Saturday Knights is one of 18 successful applicants to round one of Palmerston North City Council’s Creative Communities Scheme 2021-22.

The total fund pool for 2021-22 is $101,819, made up from a $33,599 Council contribution, and $68,220 from Creative NZ. With $56,481.04 allocated to community arts projects this round, a further $45,337.96 is available for new applications when round two opens in early 2022.

Saturday Knights is the brainchild of Palmy performer, writer and educator Ryan Knighton. Knighton, who is also dungeon master, has connected with Valkyrie Games to organise the events and to tap into its emerging comedic talent. The cast includes Joel Coutts, Toby Lockhart, Jessica McLean, Morgan Parker-Corney, Jonny Paul and Josh Sharp. Further contributions come from sound engineer Brodie Sharp, art designer Fay Morris (@bubble0h7_art), and original theme music is by Thom McMenamin

“Across our cast we have numerous writing and theatre qualifications, as well as many improvised comedy awards,” Knighton says.

“I’ve always enjoyed Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve seen its resurgence and success on an international level. I saw it as a great way to use my improve and scriptwriting training to bring people together.”

The two-hour improvised live show combines devised story elements and improvised character performances. “The audience is part of the jokes, making the show come together through spontaneous banter that directs the game. If you don’t want to get that involved, you can just sit back and enjoy,” Knighton says.

Shows will also be recorded and released on platforms such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. The show is koha entry and the podcast is free. Under Level 2, events will be held at the Dark Room, with a limit of 50 people, with the intent that under Level 1 events will be held at the Valkyrie Games site in King Street.

“We want our performances as accessible as possible to a wide audience, and are hoping to attract sponsorship and advertising opportunities as we become established.”

Similar sub-genre shows based on the table-top role-playing game have taken off around the world, especially during Covid-19 lockdowns. The most famous of these is Critical Role – with more than 200 episodes and a Kickstarter, it recently made over 11 million dollars, Knighton says. Similar shows are already proving popular in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

“There’s been a big resurgence during lockdown. Through people playing games together in a competitive virtual space, it’s created connections during a time when people are unusually separated,” Knighton says.

The Creative Communities Scheme is a partnership between Council and Creative New Zealand that helps to fund local arts projects.

Successful applicants

The 18 successful applications for the first round of funding (total $56,481.04) include:

Martin Sercombe, Media Projects NZ: Wildbore's World, $3,500

A holiday animation workshop for children exploring the life and work of Charles Wildbore, alongside an animation session for teachers and arts facilitators.

Gena Toa, Legacy Centre: Te Toka Tu Moana Kapa Haka, $1,500

Kapa haka group based in Highbury that focuses on Māori traditions, tikanga and performances through waiata, mōteatea, haka, mau rākau and raranga.

Connected Media Charitable Trust: Free Sustainability Film-Making Workshops for Youth, $1,000

Two-day programme of sustainability film-making workshops. One day visiting local schools and facilitating Someday Workshop sessions with youth ages 11-18 years. This is followed by a full day Someday Leaders workshop for those aged 14-18 years.

Shellie Hanley: Te Huia - a visual sound portrait, $4,000

Te Huia is a visual sound portrait depicting the Song and Habitat of the Huia. Te Huia will be a projection mapped visual soundscape performed in Quadrophonic Stereo at 409 Church Street and at other events in Palmerston North.

New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (Manawatū Branch) Incorporated: Wall Mural (pikitia pakitara) - Deerstalkers Hall, $4,000

Looking to commission a full wall mural as a focal point on the outer back wall of Deerstalkers Hall, to showcase local artist talents and showcase the organisation’s involvement in conservation activities in the region.

Bhutanese Society of New Zealand Incorporated: Knock (short movie), $4,000

A short movie for social awareness carries messages about the big hidden reason of loneliness, depression and suicidal thought. It is also helpful to friends, family and health service providers to know how the refugee-background youth are living here or different parts of the world.

Hinemoa Hall, Te Aroha Noa Community Services: New Kiwi Club Learn to Earn Initiative, $871.40

New Kiwi Club is a Monday after-school programme held at Te Aroha Noa Community Services that works with and alongside the refugee community within Palmerston North.

Manawatū Camera Club: Eva Pollak Photographic Art Presentation, $1,500

The club wishes to bring Eva Polak to Palmerston North. She is a renowned photographic artist, author and teacher specialising in Impressionism.

Belinda Paton: Art Exhibition, $2,000

Solo exhibition of "New Original Artwork" featuring native flora and fauna by international award-winning artist Belinda Paton at the Square Edge Community Gallery.

Carson Taare: Carson at The Stomach, $2,000

To record original music using local musicians and community facilities, including the The Stomach music studio.

Saturday Knights: Season 1, $6,007

Using the format of the popular tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, our six adventurers trek through peril and danger for your entertainment! It’s live theatre, with engaging stories, compelling characters and off-the-cuff comedy.

MS Central Districts Art Group: Different Directions, $2,000

The exhibition at Square Edge will display group and individual arts, with the hope of challenging perspectives around MS and individuality and what they can do.

CanInspire Charitable Trust: CanBead Workshops, $1,000

Five free art therapy workshops in Palmerston North, supporting people experiencing illness, trauma or personal loss.

John Faiz, Legacy Centre: Community Dance Academy, $2,000

This project will create opportunities for young people aged between 8-13 to experience performing arts, specifically hip-hop, krump and contemporary dance.

SpontaneoUS: Start, $5,000

Start is a show produced by SpontaneoUS aimed at getting some fresh faces onto the stage.

Kane Parsons, Hokozoo Productions: The KaRs sing Kiwi Classics, $5,000

A 15-track album of Kiwi classics and new originals from the KaRs.

Kane Parsons, Hokozoo Productions: The Legend of Okatia, $8,650

To compose a bicultural classical orchestral work with taonga pūoro about the legend of how the Manawatū was formed.

Christian Hogue: Historical Photography Workshop, $2,452.64

A workshop to teach the historical art of wet plate, large-format photography and the 19th-century skills of using chemistry and a camera to capture light on glass plate using portraiture.