Some standouts of the NZ Festival
A Vietnamese circus, a 1920s Parisian bar and a tango dancing house party will transform Wellington stages at the New Zealand Festival in February.
Organisers revealed the 2018 festival programme on Tuesday and it promises to have something for everyone, with world-class acts in music, theatre, opera and art. The festival kicks off with the arrival of waka into Wellington Harbour on February 23 and runs until March 18. Here are some of artistic director Shelagh Magadza’s top picks.
AWAKA ODYSSEY (KUPE)
A mass assembly of waka hourua (twin-hulled ocean-going waka) from around the Pacific and Aotearoa will descend on Wellington Harbour at dusk to open New Zealand’s largest international arts festival. Welcoming them on land will be performers, a mass choir and a thousand-strong haka. When: Friday, February 23 from 7pm. Where: Wellington Harbour and Taranaki Wharf Cost: Free What Shelagh says: ‘‘A once-ina-lifetime opportunity, deeply rooted in our history and culture. It’s a chance to experience our Maori/ Pacific culture on a spectacular scale and to explore the incredible stories of the first voyagers to our shores, as well as the people who are now following in their path.
Set in modern day rural Ireland, the ballet revolves around a man whose life is eroding on a small family farm. Using a mix of music, dance and theatre, reframes one of the world’smost famous ballets with a distinctly Irish lens, even replacing Tchaikovsky’s famous score with Irish folk music, with a Nordic twist. When: Wednesday, March 14 to Saturday, March 17 Where: St James Theatre Cost: A$99 / B$79 / C$59 / D $39 / Early bird: A$89 What Shelagh says: ‘‘I was deeply moved by this work, which deconstructs a classic ballet and turns it into a powerful modern story. Michael Keegan-Dolan is masterful in combining music, theatre and dance to tell a compelling story of the triumph of love against all odds’’.
A O LANG PHO
The title loosely translates in English as ‘‘village and city’’, and so the circus explores the differences of the cultural richness of Vietnamese life in the countryside and how it is affected by rapid urbanisation. Mixing bamboo cirque, acrobatics, eclectic music, contemporary dance and theatrical visual art,
features 15 acrobats and five musicians. Its traditional Vietnamese soundtrack echoes Southern Vietnamese work songs. When: Thursday, March 8 to Sunday, March 11 Where: St James Theatre Cost: A$69 / B$49 / C $29 / Early Bird: A$59 What Shelagh says: ‘‘This piece has oodles of charmas an incredibly talented cast transport you into the world of Vietnam. This is a unique circus experience where the skills of acrobats, dancers, jugglers and musicians are used to completely win your heart over.’’
A rare, one-off performance with Talking Heads founder, artist, activist and all-round creative genius David Byrne. Byrne, whose band gave us the classics of Psycho Killer, Once in a Lifetime and Burning Down the House, has produced a mix of projects since the band parted ways in the 1990s. When: Wednesday, February 28, 7pm start Where: Michael Fowler Centre Cost: $89 - $139 What Shelagh says: ‘‘David is a popculture icon and his shows are always beautifully produced, marrying his love of great style with the hit music that seems never to have gone out of fashion.’’
Jordi Savall and his early music ensemble Hespe`rion XXI will join South American/Mexican chamber music group Tembembe Ensamble Continuo for an evening of world music taken from a number of Savall’s recordings. When: Saturday, February 24 Where: Michael Fowler Centre Cost: $39 to $109 What Shelagh says: ‘‘The music of old Spain, infused with the sounds of South America, makes for a really dynamic performance. The refined sounds of the Baroque period, mix with the earthy sounds and rhythms of indigenous America, to give a truly unique imagining of the meeting of these cultures through music.’’
The German term‘‘betroffenheit’ has no true English language equivalent, but suggests a state of shock or grief that occurs following deep and unexpected trauma. Here renowned Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite and theatre maker Jonathon Young collaborate on an exceptional dance–theatre hybrid to tell the story of the aftermath of a profound, personal tragedy. When: Saturday and Sunday, March 3 and 4. Where: St James Theatre Cost: A$99 / B$79 / C$59 / D$39 / Early Bird: A$89 What Shelagh says: ‘‘Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young have fearlessly constructed a work which is astonishing in so many ways. Visually compelling, some of the best dance you’ll ever see and an intense emotional and intellectual journey through the human mind.’’
A large-scale, live documentary by actor-illusionist Geoff Sobelle, which revolves around the life-cycle of a house. Performed by five adults, a child actor, folk rock artist Elvis Perkins, a live band and up to 30 audience members. When: Wednesday March 7 to Sunday March 11 Where: Opera House Cost: A$79 / B$59 / C$39 / Early Bird: A$69 What Shelagh says: ‘‘Geoff Sobelle has a rare talent for making imagery on stage that intrigues and moves you.’’