Loose Canons09.03.23
#Loose Canons#PIJF

Loose Canons – Freya Daly Sadgrove

Show Ponies creator, writer and performer Freya Daly Sadgrove shares with us the five things that make her tick! Watch out -her show Whole New Woman is currently on at BATS Theatre.

Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.

Freya Daly Sadgrove is a Pākehā writer, storyteller, and performer from Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She is part of Show Ponies, a dazzling pop star poetry experience, and published her debut poetry collection, Head Girl, in 2020.

My copy. I’ve read it at least 20 times. No disrespect to Studio Ghibli but they did Calcifer the fire demon dirty (also it’s just a different story okay.)


I give such a big shit about Diana Wynne Jones. The lady wrote so many books it blows my tiny mind – I can’t properly count them on the Wikipedia page because the list is too long and I will get tired. But the most mind-blowing bit is that they all freaking rock. Like, she does not miss. I’ve read THIRTY-FOUR books by DWJ and loved every single one. Had my mind made bigger by each one, felt at home in each one, had my life made more special by each one. Not exaggerating.

But my love for DWJ started, and continued for over ten years, with Howl’s Moving Castle [1] and NOTHING ELSE. I read it when I was eight years old, and it was a perfect piece of art to me then and it’s a perfect piece of art to me now. In primary school I knew other kids reading her Chrestomanci series but I didn’t want to read anything other than Howl’s. I loved it so much I was completely sure her other books would be disappointing in comparison. I just read Howl’s over and over, about once a year. Each time, the world of it got more solid and detailed in my imagination. Every few years I’d realise I’d been imagining something wrong – missed a detail, mixed up left and right, pronounced something weird – and I’d have to sort of break it and remake it in my mind, which is actually a dope skill to practise. I reckon it helps me when I need to fuck with my wrong assumptions. Basically, DWJ has helped make my imagination big and fun and powerful. Very nice for me.

Screengrab from Beyonce's Homecoming on Netflix


I just respect the absolute fuck out of this piece of art. I am so inspired by it. I think it’s a pinnacle of live performance, a historic moment. It’s the product of massive dedication and effort, it’s heaps values-driven, there is intention and craft in every detail of it, it makes everyone on the stage freaking glow, and I reckon it lifts Beyoncé’s songs to a new plane of meaning. I enjoyed Beyoncé before but watching Homecoming made me be like, ok this is not someone who lounges upon her laurels even though they would be so spacious and comf. This is someone who keeps pushing further and expanding the creative space she’s in – for herself and everyone around her. So it inspires me in my own small way to push beyond what I know I can do, and to fuckin respect and learn as much as I can from artists working in all forms. I feel like Show Ponies wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t seen Homecoming. I just think it’s so dope.

(stole this from newshub not sure if allowed)


Here’s the chorus; you’ll feel me:

Behold currently! You are entirely a star child! Begin your power! Go! Laugh!

Behold currently! You are a master of the music! Begin your singing! Acquire your wages!

All that sparkles is gold!

Comets alone shatter the frame!

Firstly, I just really dig a bit of translation. I think poetry is an act of translation and translation is an act of poetry. Secondly, it is both crackup and powerful to have done this, and I respect that combo. Thirdly, it genuinely motivates me lol. I AM entirely a star child.

And the phrase “begin your power” has been nothing less than a central driving poetic force through the making of Whole New Woman. It’s basically the whole point. Thank you Smash Mouth, thank you Isaac Mayer, thank you fourth-century Babylonian Judeo-Aramaic.

Long Cloud in 2010 - That's me


No art I make is ever not influenced by what I learned and how I learned it in Long Cloud. It’s where I first really started to understand what kind of artist, and person, I wanted to be. It’s also where I first felt totally safe to be that person – someone properly open and committed and generous and brave. You can’t begin to be those things without a community who loves and challenges and encourages you. Or, I couldn’t’ve.

When we were debriefing the first show I did with Long Cloud, I said something really 17-year-oldy about how it had been a huge relief to separate from myself and become someone else for a while (I was pretty depressed, who wasn’t). Willem Wassenaar shook his head about it – he said you don’t become someone else when you act, you go looking in yourself and you find and inhabit new parts that you didn’t know about before. I was like, o shit. There’s room in here for good stuff. It was a paradigm shift without which my life and art since woulda been way different and, like, definitely worse.

Me going around making my choices


Lol but seriously. One bit in particular that has been quite an engine for my show Whole New Woman is this idea of an observer self – something behind your actions that sees them, thinks about them, and in my case has had a habit of judging them p harshly. I found it almost impossible to conceive of this observer self for ages – it became kind of a block for me in therapy. I had always felt myself strapped right onto the front of my actions, like Mad Max in Fury Road, you know? I always felt that my badness was just the visceral facts and I was battered by it constantly. Now I’m like, pull back woman! Check reality. Check the evidence. Check your moral compass and see you’re not veering off course that fuckin bad.

The other massive influence of therapy on my shit, especially creating Whole New Woman (and other than like, being able to safely reframe my small traumas), has been the realisation that anger is not a big bad forbidden thing. That it can and should be useful, purposeful, and important for protecting myself and for getting brave enough to live my vallies (values).



Since writing this I saw Peaches live (also I opened for her lol, what, what, lol??? for real) and now I have to add The Teaches of Peaches Anniversary Tour Wellington Show Meow 2023 to this list. I honest to fuck felt my life change. I Found Purpose. I Saw the Possibilities. I absolutely know the memory of it’s gonna propel me creatively for like, ever.

Whole New Woman
New Zealand Fringe Festival | Bats Theatre
9 – 11 Mar

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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