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24 Oct 2013
The biennial New Zealand Festival today launched its 2014 line-up – announcing a programme that promises 24 days and nights of the best art, performance and literature from around the world.
Started in 1986, the Festival is characterised by its unique scale and diversity, as well as its promise to push boundaries and pursue the biggest names in international arts. Hosting events from the classical to the cutting edge, grand spectacles to intimate arts experiences, Wellington will become the stage for around 300 events from 21 February – 16 March 2014. Festival on the Road will also take selected shows out to the regions.
2014 marks the first Festival from new Artistic Director Shelagh Magadza, who previously directed the Perth International Arts Festival for 2008-2011. “From the family-friendly Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, the astonishing circus skills of Beyond, and the world-famous light and sound experience Power Plant at the Botanic Garden – to the cult appeal of Yo La Tengo and the macabre magic of the delightfully twisted Tiger Lillies, I’m interested in celebrating great art in its many and various forms,” she says.
Her 2014 New Zealand Festival programme features such legends of the stage as Festival favourite and theatre mastermind Robert Lepage with his updated version of Needles and Opium. Russian Director Dmitry Krymov brings his joyful reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It), commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, complete with giant puppets, acrobats and a performing Jack Russell. Early music expert Maestro Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japanprovide a double-bill of Bach, and star choreographer Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company comes from Israel to New Zealand for the first time with a greatest hits showcase for the Festival’s opening weekend.
"International headliners sit alongside Kiwi icons, including six world premiere productions, with two by New Zealand Arts Laureates."
In a Festival first, Lemi Ponifasio, with MAU, brings a pair of provocative new works: The Crimson House and Stones In Her Mouth. Ponifasio is a regular on the bills of major Festivals overseas, and this is a rare chance to see his extraordinary creations on home turf. Writer Briar Grace-Smith joins Auckland Theatre Company director Colin McColl and an all-star Kiwi cast to bring the Spanish-flavoured East Coast love story ¡Paniora!
“¡Paniora! is joined by a number of other events that have a strong Spanish influence,” says Artistic Director Shelagh Magadza.
“Opera aficionados will be cast back to the Spanish Civil War in Ainadamar, by acclaimed composer Osvaldo Golijov - who the New York Times has called the 'saviour of classical music'. Ainadamar celebrates the life of Federico García Lorca and our version features international soloists from the Grammy Award winning recording with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Maverick flamenco dancer Israel Galván from Seville also brings his quick-fire footwork and a bucket-load of charisma to the programme.”
Known for being passionate about community participation, Shelagh says it is only fitting that the 2014 Festival kicks off with a massive party open to all at Wellington’s Civic Square on 21 February. “The Festival gets started with a Big Bang when 200 young drummers from across New Zealand join 300 singers from community choirs, Strike Percussion and Kora – all on one stage – it’s a great big community celebration,” she says.
For music lovers there’s jazz from Madeleine Peyroux, and a rich offering at Wellington’s James Cabaret, which sees an eclectic mix of music and cabaret from around the world including soul-survivor Charles Bradley and indie darling Neko Case, each for under $50. Wellington will also welcome writers and thinkers from here and abroad to share their stories at the 2014 Writers Week from Friday 7 to Wednesday 12 March. Highlights at Writers Week include astrophysicist Marcus Chown, the celebrated author of Wild Swans, Jung Chang, Booker Prize winner Tom Keneally and global bestseller Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert.
The full Writers Week programme will be announced on 30 January 2014.