Scoop Images: Exploding Edinburgh
Helen Jamieson - In Edinburgh
Edinburgh is exploding; every night the castle glows red and white before erupting into a brilliant display of fireworks, while saxophonists, drummers, jugglers and living statues compete with the flier distributors and tourists for footpath space on the Royal Mile.
Aye, it's festival time again in the Dunedin of the North, and amongst the chaos of the world's biggest arts showcase, it's possible to find evidence of New Zealand's small but highly talented representation. The largest expression of our culture is the 50-strong kapahaka group, Ngati Rangiwewehi, who are performing nightly at the Military Tattoo, alongside Zulu warriors, Aboriginal performers, Canadian Mounties and Scottish pipe bands. New Zealanders also feature among the pipe bands, which include the Wellington, West Coast and Taranaki Regiment pipe band.
The Tattoo runs for three weeks to a over 8,000 people each performance and is broadcast on national television in the UK. It's possibly the largest audience ever for traditional kapahaka. As national ambassadors and Maori performers, it's a privilege the Ngati Rangiwewehi members will never forget.
Also getting good exposure through the theatre reviews is Madeline Sami in "No. 2", by Toa Fraser. Her stunning solo performance has gained five-star reviews and is selling out.
Festival stalwart Mika has also attracted favourable reviews, and his reputation here ensures good houses. Each year his repertoire expands, pushing further into opera at the same time as delving deeper into the risque vein of humour. He never fails to surprise, and not just with his costumes.
At the Traverse Theatre, a haka is being performed by an Irish theatre company in "Alone It Stands". Celebrating mighty Munster's 1978 trouncing of the All Blacks, it's a fast-paced romp with plenty of laughs and a convincing "ka mate, ka mate". I just hope they get their accents sounding more kiwi than South African before they tour down under.
I've been hunting high and low, sniffing out other compatriots, from the smoky Assembly Rooms club bar where there are so many kiwis you can almost forget you're on the other side of the world, to a hidden away venue where Glasgow-based ex-pat Josie Ryan is performing her first solo show, "Sister Wonderwoman". New Zealanders are here all right, performing, staffing venues, reviewing, talent-spotting and just plain spectating, soaking up the manic festival atmosphere.
- AUTHOR NOTE: Helen Jamieson is an arts writer currently based in Edinburgh; her articles about the festivals will be appearing in New Zealand magazines including DANZ, Playmarket and the Magdalena Aotearoa newsletter. If you're interested in coverage of the festivals, email firstname.lastname@example.org