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New Zealand International Arts Festival 2006 highlights 24 February - 16 March

News from Wellington - 10/02/06

Visit Wellington and enjoy such attractions as King and Country, author-illustrator Shaun Tan, Cliff Curtis in The Holy Sinner, Rawiri Paratene narrator for Tuwhare, and special displays at Te Papa.

Arts Festival pulls off military coup!
Members of New Zealand’s only professional brass band, The New Zealand Army Band, will be taking part in the New Zealand International Arts Festival. Seventeen members of the New Zealand Army Band will be appearing live on stage at Wellington’s Downstage Theatre for performances of King and Country by Dave Armstrong.

“We are absolutely delighted to have members of one of the very best bands in the country provide the music for our Wellington season,’ said producer Caroline Armstrong. “This is an international festival so it is a real coup to work with a band of international quality. It is also an honour to have a direct connection with the New Zealand Army in a show about ordinary New Zealand soldiers during World War I.”

King and Country tells the story of five soldiers and a nurse during World War I. Most of the music is from New Zealand - tunes that were written at home and sung during the war.

“It’s fantastic having a brass band on stage in the show,” says writer and musical director Dave Armstrong, “as most of the music of World War I was written for brass band. When the troops left home or returned on the ships, or when the soldiers attended various church services during the war, their singing was nearly always accompanied by a brass band.”

Captain Leanne Smith, musical director of the New Zealand Army Band, says she is honoured that the Army Band is to play again at the Festival. The Army Band performed at the massively successful Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a highlight of the 2000 New Zealand International Arts Festival, in free events at the 2004 Festival and have performed extensively in New Zealand and around the world, including the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. In keeping with the time period of the production, the band will be wearing traditional khaki uniforms, rather than their brighter red and black evening dress.

Directed by Conrad Newport and featuring Nick Dunbar, Craig Geenty, Jason Hood, Dena Kennedy, Jamie McCaskill and Rob Mokaraka, King and Country plays at Downstage Theatre, Wellington from February 24 – March 1.

Shaun Tan at New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week
Acclaimed author-illustrator Shaun Tan is an exciting new addition to the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week.


Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan
Photo Source: New Zealand International Arts Festival
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Over the last decade, Tan has produced genre-breaking and multiple prize-winning picture books. His books have quickly become cult favourites with children, teenagers and adults alike, internationally confirming the picture book’s new status as a sophisticated form for all ages.

Named International Illustrator of the Future in 1992, Shaun Tan has built a formidable reputation as the star of progressive picture books. As an illustrator he has won multiple awards. He is especially known for his extraordinary work in The Rabbits (1998), a powerful fable about colonisation written by John Marsden and studied throughout Australasian schools.

As writer and illustrator of his recent books The Lost Thing (1999) andThe Red Tree (2001) he draws upon subject matter as unusual – especially in the picture book worlds – as art history and depression, and his illustrations are rich with reference to art, science and mathematics.

Tan will appear for an hour-long discussion of his work, including readings, on 17 March at 3.45pm. He will also undertake sessions with primary and secondary school students while he is in New Zealand.

New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week takes place in the third week of the New Zealand International Arts Festival, from 14-19 March 2006. The event will host seventeen international writers, along with some of New Zealand’s finest wordsmiths, in a week-long presentation of readings, conversation and discussion focused on literature.

Cliff Curtis heads an ‘A-list’ cast in The Holy Sinner
Direct from the premiere of River Queen – Cliff Curtis makes his return to the stage in the iconic New Zealand theatre work - The Holy Sinner at the Festival.


Cliff Curtis
Cliff Curtis
Photo Source: New Zealand International Arts Festival
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For the restaging of this cult production the creators have gathered what they call the “A-Team”. The large ensemble cast includes some of New Zealand’s top performers and designers, including Cliff Curtis; Mia Blake, who has just returned from the Sundance Film Festival with the award winning film NO 2; Bruce Hopkins and Cameron Rhodes who featured in The Lord of the Rings trilogy; Madeleine Sami seen on The Insiders Guide to Happiness; Alison Bruce from Magik and Rose and Ian Hughes, seen on Shortland Streetas Sticky and on stage in Bare with Madeleine Sami; amongst others. Academy Award-winner Grant Major (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) is the set designer and Bryan Caldwell is the lighting designer, which guarantees that the experience will be awe-inspiring and visually stunning.

In a co-production between the New Zealand International Arts Festival and Inside Out Productions, Mike Mizrahi and Marie Adams also make a magnificent return to their theatre roots with The Holy Sinner

When The Holy Sinner made its debut on Auckland’s waterfront in 1990, it wowed sell-out crowds and critics alike. Hailed as the “the most extraordinary piece of theatre in recent memory” it became a landmark contemporary New Zealand theatre work. Now, 16 years later, the epic play returns, revamped and more extraordinary than ever.

Based on Thomas Mann’s novel of the same name, the cult production follows a tale of nobility falling from grace, where sons compound the sins of their fathers. Lies, deception, guilt, discovery and exultant transformation are presented in a spinning tableau of angels, cardinals, foul-mouthed fisher folk, nuns, lepers, kings, queens, sinful love-making and huge battle scenes

This medieval romp was first performed at the Old Iron Foundry in the Auckland Harbour Board building and, due to its success, The Holy Sinner was commissioned to be restaged in a warehouse on Wellington’s waterfront for the New Zealand Festival of the Arts in 1994. Both productions sold out after opening night and inspired a whole new theatre audience. In 1994, The Holy Sinner won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Most Innovative Production of the Year.

The production is sponsored by Sauce and supported by Creative New Zealand.

Performance dates:
Fri 10 & Sat 11 March 8pm; Sun 12 March 1pm & 8pm; Mon 13 March, 7pm,
Westpac St James Theatre, Wellington

Whale Rider Star Rawiri Paratene to narrate Tuwhare production

Maori actor Rawiri Paratene (Nga Puhi) is to be the narrator for the New Zealand International Arts Festival co-production Tuwhare.


Rawiri Paratene
Rawiri Paratene
Photo Source: New Zealand International Arts Festival
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Paratene gained international acclaim with the New Zealand film Whale Rider and is well known and loved by New Zealanders in their 20s and 30s who grew up watching him on Playschool. Over the last 30 years in the entertainment industry, Paratene has won acclaim as an actor, writer, director, producer and tutor.

In the Festival performances of Tuwhare, Paratene will guide the audience through a celebration of New Zealand poet Hone Tuwhare's work in a unique concert by top recording artists from around Aotearoa.

"I have been an admirer of Hone since I was a schoolboy. I have been proud of him and I claim him as an elder as he and my mother are related... he looks like my Grandfather," says Paratene. "I regard him as the most magnificent performance poet I have ever seen and am hoping Hone will be in the audience. I love his charm and sense of humour and his immense intellect and moving wairua. He is a renaissance figure to us Maori!"

Twelve recording artists from Hinemoana Baker to Te Kupu (Dean Hapeta of Upper Hutt Posse), WAI to Goldenhorse, Graham Brazier and Don McGlashan will transform Tuwhare's words into lyrics for songs that cover a wide range of styles, capturing the diversity in both his writing and New Zealand music.

This 80-minute journey into the heart of New Zealand arts and culture, sponsored by The Dominion Post with support from Creative New Zealand, Toi Maori Aotearoa and Smokefree Arts, will be performed at the Wellington Town Hall in three cabaret-style performances.

Tuwhare director Charlottes Yates was commissioned by Toi Maori Aotearoa to produce a CD that celebrated the poetry of Hone Tuwhare. The CD, released during New Zealand Music Month in 2005, received rave reviews. Now, the same set of contemporary New Zealand musicians who played on the Tuwhare CD come together to present this uplifting musical tribute, live. The concert is a co-production of Toi Maori Aotearoa and the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

A culmination of New Zealand art, culture and heritage, Tuwhare pays homage to one of our greatest living poets.

At Te Papa during the Festival
Te Papa's exhibition and events programme during the NZ International Arts Festival 2006 includes:

Cézanne to Picasso: Paintings from the Julian and Josie Robertson Collection, New York (28 February 29 March 2006. Level 4. Free entry.) A rare opportunity to experience a remarkable selection of exquisite works by some of the masters of modern art including Cézanne, Picasso, and Braque.

Splendours of Japan – Treasures from the Tokyo National Museum (4 March – 30 April 2006. The TOWER Gallery, Level 4, Te Papa. Admission charges apply)
From Japan’s finest samurai swords, fashioned more than 700 years ago, to Buddhist arhat scrolls, these Japanese national treasures are seldom seen outside Japan. A spectacular selection of some 130 items offers visitors a taste of Japan’s rich culture, including pottery 5000 years old, burial ornaments, samurai armour, textiles, and exquisite calligraphy and woodblock prints

Close Encounters Taonga Whakairo (Carved Treasure) at Te Papa; (12.15pm–1.00pm. Thursdays and Fridays during the Festival – 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, and 24 March. The Marae, Level 4. Free entry)
In a series of lunchtime presentations, Te Papa’s Maori Collection team along with some of Aotearoa’s master carvers and leading Maori artists will show these exquisite carvings and share their knowledge and expertise on the tradition that is whakairo.

The Art Thursday Lecture Series presents a discussion of each exhibition above:
From the music of the silk-brush to the music of the axe: Cézanne to Picasso (Thursday 2 March, 6pm 7pm. ICON, Level 2. Free entry);
Modern European art and the Japanese woodcut (Thursday 9 March, 6pm 7pm. ICON, Level 2. Free entry); and Taonga as art The issues (Thursday 16 March, 6pm - 7pm. The Marae. Free entry).

TREATY 2 U – A touring exhibition (11 19 March, 10am 6pm. The Plaza (Outside), Te Papa. Free entry) TREATY 2 U brings the story of the nation’s founding document to all New Zealanders through a unique touring exhibition.

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