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Trials of famed female comics focus of award-winning comedy show

HarleQueen is an award-winning celebration of female fools. Written & performed by Abby Howells & directed by Anya Tate-Manning, HarleQueen is a night of theatre, fun and stories about cool ladies.


Ōtepoti writer and comedian Abby Howells will perform her award-winning comedy show Harlequeen as part of the 2021 New Zealand International Comedy Festival.

After seasons in every other major centre and picking up multiple awards from Dunedin Fringe Festival, New Zealand Fringe Festival and Adelaide Fringe Festival, as well as the Peter Harcourt New Playwright of the Year at the Wellington Theatre Awards, the show will finally make its way to Tāmaki Makaurau.

The one-woman show focuses on the challenges Howell’s has faced finding her place as an adolescent performer, and eventually in her career as a writer and comedian. She parallels this with the stories of five of the world’s female trailblazers in comedy, from Moms Mabley to Joan Rivers, who all had to fight for their place in the industry, typically against their male counterparts.

This is Howells’ first time performing in Auckland after her own encounter with sexism in the New Zealand comedy industry. Her experiences forced her out of stand-up for nearly a decade.

However, this experience is not the primary focus of the show. Harlequeen is a celebration, and an act of defiance against her past experiences in the industry. Howells', as Harlequeen, is back to reclaim her space in comedy - on her own terms.

The show is directed by veteran New Zealand actor Anya Tate-Manning and produced by Jennifer O’Sullivan and Kate Schrader.
Harlequeen will run 4-8 May at Basement Theatre Studio. Tickets are available from

Quick Reference:

Harlequeen: A one woman celebration of female fools
Written and performed by Abby Howells
Directed by Anya Tate-Manning
4-8 May, 7pm at Basement Theatre Studio
Duration: 1 hr
Tickets from or

Written by

HarleQueen Productions

19 Apr 2021