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From Air Ballet To Shadow Play


22 February – 16 March 2008



From Air Ballet To Shadow Play

The NZ International Arts Festival releases its programme for 2008


From the deeply serious to the seriously fun, the 2008 New Zealand International Arts Festival hosts the best in international and New Zealand culture. The 2008 programme, which runs from 22 February–16 March, embraces a broad range of styles and encompasses compelling theatre, enchanting music, irresistible dance, absorbing opera, the crème de la crème of writers and captivating visual arts. 

With over 800 artists from 29 countries, the Festival runs throughout varied venues in Wellington with the central hub located on the picturesque waterfront. The programme also extends out into the greater Wellington region with travelling shows in Art on the Move.

The architecture of the Festival remains familiar under new Artistic Director Lissa Twomey, while actively addressing human rights, globalisation and environmental concerns which are at the forefront of today’s thinking. Other highlights are the largest New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week ever seen, a strong use of new technology within traditional art forms and an expanded family programme.

Lissa Twomey announced her first programme for the NZ International Arts Festival today saying, “In continuing the Festival's tradition of presenting the highest quality of classical and contemporary arts from around the world, I've shaped a programme with an element of fun about it that is designed to speak to many different parts of the community.  The programme mixes creative practice, creating unique cultural convergences and is influenced by great stories and current issues affecting us in the world today.  I'm excited to present the New Zealand debuts of many artists in 2008 in what promises to be a highly entertaining 24 days.”


This year’s theatre programme presents the critically acclaimed TV3 Season of Black Watch, hailed as a cultural landmark of the 21st century, blending comedy, heartbreak, politics and song and the Clemenger BBDO Season of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, arguably the greatest play of the 20th century, with crisp direction from Cheek by Jowl founder Declan Donnellan and a stellar Russian cast. Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett directs the Sydney Theatre Company’s 2007 production of Blackbird, a confronting theatre piece which scooped a 2007 Olivier Award for ‘Best New Play’; New Zealand’s proudly suburban and non-pc satire bro’Town makes a foray to Wellington for its first-ever live stage performance; director Nigel Jamieson’s dance theatre piece, Honour Bound is an artistic response to David Hick’s incarceration for five years at the infamous Guantanamo Bay; and the delightful Lifeboat, a true story of two 15-year-old’s death-defying journey to escape war-torn Britain.


The Festival’s new stage commissions for 2008 include Indian Ink Theatre’s first production in five years, The Dentist’s Chair, starring Jacob Rajan in the title role, and the world premiere of opera The Trial of the Cannibal Dog, a contemporary adaptation of Dame Anne Salmond’s award-winning book. The Festival is also co-producing, with Taki Rua Productions, Albert Belz’s Te Karakia, a love story of hope and forgiveness set amidst the 1981 Springbok Tour, and Auckland Theatre Company’s Where We Once Belonged, a starkly honest, sometimes brutal, but often wildly funny coming-of-age story adapted from Sia Figiel’s award-winning novel.

The international music programme features visually inspired opera in the double-bill of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s final collaboration The Lindbergh Flight and The Seven Deadly Sins, directed by acclaimed opera and film director, François Girard; the masterful French pianist, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and former child prodigy, violinist Chloë Hanslip make their debuts with the NZSO in two very contrasting concerts, French Finesse and Resonances; 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner Ornette Coleman, who is one of jazz’s most important and controversial exponents; The Bad Plus, the biggest breakout story of jazz in the past decade; Brazilian Kings of Samba Clube do Balanço make their NZ debut.  Featuring classical music and Middle Eastern-infused jazz, Absolute Ensemble presents two concerts - Absolute Mahler, a celebration of Mahler and Debussy, and Absolute Arabian Nights, both conducted by Kristjan Jarvi; Steven Isserlis, cellist, Gramophone Award winner and the Festival’s Artist in Resident, curates different chamber music performances over four nights; the highly anticipated Book of Longing, a musical collaboration between legends Leonard Cohen and Philip Glass; early American music experts The Boston Camerata; The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain re-arrange punk, funk, metal, classical and pop standards for the miniature guitar; and, a ‘musical dialogue’ between Irish and Maori indigenous cultures in Green Fire Islands.


New Zealand classical music highlights include internationally renowned pianist, NZ-born Stephen De Pledge performing a world premiere of work from this country’s most acclaimed composers in Landscapes Preludes; Jenny McLeod’s new work The Poet, commemorating Janet Frame’s status at the cornerstone of New Zealand literature, featuring TOWER Voices NZ and the New Zealand String Quartet; and Stroma who perform a new soundtrack to three Charlie Chaplin films in ChaplinOperas.


Events on the waterfront consist of one of the world's largest interactive artworks, Body Movies, proudly sponsored by Meridian Energy. This free public art installation features photo portraits from around Wellington and the world, which people can match, animate or embody through shadow-play; and the ground-breaking show Secret from Cirque Ici, which enlists Johann Le Guillerm, circus artist, equilibrist, and sculpture manipulator, who will create sorcery under the big top in Odlins Plaza.


The star-studded dance programme features one of the world's foremost ballerinas Sylvie Guillem in collaboration with London’s hottest choreographers Akram Khan in Sacred Monsters; 2007 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award winner Shen Wei’s landmark double bill of The Rite of Spring and Folding, which mixes Asian traditions and American experimentation; circus skills of somersaulting, contorting and balancing in Les 7 Doigts de la Main’s show Traces; brilliant Finnish modern-dance choreographer Tero Saarinen’s production Borrowed Light, which evokes the religious ecstasy of Shaker worship; Michael Keegan-Dolan’s controversial interpretation of classical ballet Giselle set to Slovak folk dancing and Texas two-step, and definitely no tutus or pointe shoes; and with no two performances the same Glow uses a solo dancer who emotionally and physically triggers a video-tracking system creating absorbing images.

The Pacific Blue Festival Club returns to Frank Kitts Park to host entertainment from noon to night spotlighting the devilish late-night acrobatic show La Vie; legendary soul singer Mavis Staples; the bossa nova edge of Nouvelle Vague; the masterful Irish fiddle playing of Hayes and Cahill; eclectic folk with A Hawk and a Hacksaw; and the exotica performance artist Meow Meow, hand-picked for David Bowie’s High Line Festival in New York.  New Zealand artists include Dave Dobbyn, Lucid 3 and Wellington band Little Bushman.  The popular free seminars Art Talks allow audiences to hear artists divulge their enthusiasms, and Kids at the Club play host to a feast of fun for children with special dedicated family days offering a range of performances and workshops.

The amazing interactive technology of Children’s Cheering Carpet transports audiences across three different continents using gardens by way of cultural introduction. 

The New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week provides provocative discussion and debate, including the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stigliz, fiction writers James Meek and Mayra Montero, 2007 Booker nominees Mohsin Hamid and Ian McEwan, Canadian virtuoso performance poet Christian Bök, Pulitzer Prize-winning Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl, and climate campaigner George Monbiot in a live video session from the UK. 


Recognising leading artists and sculptors from New Zealand, Argentina, Slovakia, Japan, Samoa and America, Te Papa, Pataka Museum, City Gallery, Adam Art Gallery, TheNewDowse, Mahara Gallery and Museum of Wellington City and Sea will be showcasing varied visual art exhibitions exploring NZ’s multi-cultural heritage and displaying intriguing artistic explorations.

SchoolFest, the Festival’s education programme, is a core part of every Festival. Featuring the Behind the Scenes workshop programme, New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Schools Day and for the first time three international theatre productions, specifically for young people, it will travel extensively around the Festival region.

Amongst the range of ticketed events there are also a number of free events for the whole family.  Keep an eye out for From Score to Screen on 24th February in Waitangi Park and Once upon a Deadline around the city on 10 March.

All the exciting programme details will be online at from 7pm on 1 November.  Tickets will be on sale to the public on 16 November.


© Scoop Media

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