From pup­pets to pan­els and dance

The Northland Age - - Local Life / Opinion -

This year’s Up­surge Bay of Is­lands Arts Fes­ti­val prom­ises some­thing for ev­ery­one, with of­fer­ings from a foam rub­ber pup­pet called Bruce to writ­ers’ pan­els, an up-and-com­ing alt-folk mu­si­cian and a world pre­miere by the New Zealand Dance Com­pany.

The bi­en­nial fes­ti­val, which runs over April 2-7, with 27 events across the Bay of Is­lands, in­clud­ing one on board a tall ship on the Bay it­self, and as far away as Rawene, is a re­vi­talised ver­sion of the Bay of Is­lands Arts Fes­ti­val, which was staged in Kerik­eri un­til it ran out of fund­ing in 2012.

The event was sub­se­quently re­branded, and ex­ter­nal di­rec­tor So­phie Kelly, who ran the Nel­son Arts Fes­ti­val for 10 years, was brought in.

Ms Kelly said changes this year in­cluded ex­tend­ing the fes­ti­val to six days in­stead of five, and the in­tro­duc­tion of Up­surge Talks, a writ­ers’ pro­gramme fea­tur­ing po­ets, jour­nal­ists, doc­tors, a cook and a his­to­rian.

One talk would take place on the tall ship R Tucker Thomp­son, his­to­rian Dame Anne Sal­mond re­trac­ing Cap­tain Cook’s route around the Bay 250 years ago. Another, at Rawene’s No 1 Par­nell Gallery, would fea­ture Glenn Colquhoun, a poet and GP who used to live at Te Tii, pre­sent­ing a new work en­ti­tled Oral Po­etry and Totems. Other Up­surge Talks would in­clude a panel dis­cus­sion with Ra­dio NZ’s Guyon Espiner and NZ Her­ald writer Steve Brau­nias.

“I think that’ll be a very en­ter­tain­ing rant,” she said.

One of the aims of the 2019 fes­ti­val was to build au­di­ence en­gage­ment. As part of its brand-new piece The Fi­bonacci, for ex­am­ple, the NZ Dance Com­pany would be re­cruit­ing lo­cal res­i­dents for a mixed choir to re­hearse and per­form with the dancers.

The fes­ti­val was also of­fer­ing more free events, with rov­ing street the­atre in Kawakawa, Kaikohe and Pai­hia, and an in­ter­ac­tive dig­i­tal in­stal­la­tion pro­jected on to a globe sus­pended from a tree at Kerik­eri’s Kemp House.

Other high­lights would in­clude the pow­er­ful Wild Dogs Un­der My Skirt, based on the po­etry of Tu­si­ata Avia, and the win­ner of the awards for best play and best ac­tor at the 2016 Welling­ton The­atre Awards, and alt-folk singer­song­writer Na­dia Reid, who would per­form in the old show­grounds hall at Wai­mate North, a venue that earned rave re­views at the 2017 fes­ti­val.

As in pre­vi­ous years was a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Fes­ti­val of Colour, Ms Kelly Up­surge

Wanaka’s said.

Shar­ing acts al­lowed the two events to split costs and at­tract over­seas shows, such as Bruce, the foam rub­ber pup­pet.

“Don’t think of Bruce as a chil­dren’s show. It’s def­i­nitely for all ages,” she said.

The full Up­surge 2019 pro­gramme can be found at up­surge­fes­ti­


A foam rub­ber pup­pet named Bruce is likely to be one of stars of the fes­ti­val.

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