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Festival News - 27 February - 21 March 2004

27 February - 21 March 2004

In this issue:

Nau mai haere mai and welcome

It has been a fantastic week in spite of the weather. The rain, to our great disappointment, stopped the Chinese New Year parade and also put a bit of a dampener on Artist Liaison Victoria Wilks' trips from the airport to town. Many of the international cast for the Elixir of Love arrived over the weekend and Victoria always drives our guests the scenic route via Oriental Bay. She has a number of lines like 'around this corner you will see our beautiful city' (whoops - no city) and 'this is our beautiful new golden sand beach where you can swim between rehearsals' (Oriental Bay looked awfully cold and there weren't too many brave souls in the water). But still our artists from Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom have enjoyed their first taste of Wellington. And everybody knows that Wellington's summer arrives fashionably late, in February.

On Monday night we held a powhiri to welcome Geographical Cure artists at Hannah Playhouse. Co-producers Downstage Theatre and sponsor Smokefree joined us in welcoming everyone. It was a wonderful occasion with director Murray Lynch speaking eloquently. Murray and the Downstage crew sang their newly commissioned waiata by Hone Hurihanganui and Verona performed a fabulous loungey version of Tatou Tatou e. After the formalities, a cup of tea and a slice of pizza, it was straight into rehearsals. Most of the Geographical Cure artists are enjoying their first Festival experience but for the extraordinarily talented actor, singer, musician Janet Roddick this Festival will be her 6th or 7th (we think).

Yesterday Elixir of Love director Daniel Slater gave a presentation to the producers, cast and crew about the direction and themes of the opera. It was wonderful to hear Daniel's ideas and learn how he is going to make each of the characters multi-dimensional real people whom we can all identify with. With most opera stories we have to loosen our hold on reality in order to enjoy the story. But Daniel described the plot and characters in a way that made complete sense. And you're going to love those 80s costumes - who was it that said the return of 80s fashion had more to do with amnesia than nostalgia?

It is more than two years since we embarked on the 2004 Festival. It is exciting now to see it handed over to the artists to make it real and give it life.

More news next week.

Carla van Zon, Artistic Director David Inns, Chief Executive


This Friday marks both Waitangi Day and Bob Marley's birthday. Bob Marley's music, and its messages of peace and unity, has a special place among New Zealanders. His Western Springs concert in 1979 is regarded as a pivotal event in the evolution of a "New Zealand Sound" and Kiwis have bought more Bob Marley records, per capita, than any other country in the world. Marley fans will be spoilt for choice at this year's Festival.

One legend pays homage to another at Gilberto Gil's Kaya N'Gan Daya - A Tribute to Bob Marley. Gilberto Gil creates an exciting new reggae sound, infused with the rhythms of his Brazillian homeland. His 2002 album of the same name was recorded at Marley's Tuff Gong Studios and featured backing vocals by Rita Marley.

Direct from Ratana Pa, via Auckland, comes Tui Award winner Hareruia 'Ruia' Aperahama. Ruia has released two volumes of Bob Marley songs translated into Te Reo Maori - Waiata of Bob Marley Volumes 1 and 2. Ruia brings his band to Frank Kitts Park for a free concert as part of the Toyota Festival Picnics programme.


The much-anticipated programme for New Zealand Post Writers & Readers Week is now available at selected outlets and on our website. Bookings open Saturday 7 February.

A dazzling array of international and local writers and commentators are on stage to entertain, inspire and expand your horizons. Guests include Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Richard Ford, the multi-talented Clive James, political commentator Tariq Ali and many more.

Writers & Readers Concession Passes offering substantial discounts are still available.


The search is on for a leather clad, Harley straddling biker chick to play a ride-on part in The Telecom Opera The Elixir of Love. Auditions for the non-singing role were held on Tuesday night and we hope to announce the successful rev-head in next week's Festival News.

The Elixir of Love tells a story of universal appeal, where the school nerd falls in love with the popular girl. The nerd feels transformed after he enlists the aid of a Californian new-age healer's love potion and ultimately wins the girl. A triumph for Geekdom and not you're run-of-the-mill tragic opera ending!

Classic 80s references abound in The Elixir of Love with characters modelled on popular movies like Top Gun and Heathers.


Associate Director Joseph Seelig is back in town for his fifth New Zealand International Arts Festival. The tireless champion for progress and change looks back over 10 years and forward to the 2004 programme. "If it's not special and unique I see little point in doing it at all. It's not something you see on TV - and that's what this thing should be all about."


27 February - 21 March 2004

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