The 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival brings 24 extraordinary days of arts events to Wellington. With more than 300 incredible performances to savour, the Festival takes audiences from fairy tales to opera, from Shakespeare to salsa, from the Sahara Desert to a circus tent – and beyond.
Wellington’s waterfront will be transformed for 2012, with a new Festival hub on the waterfront. Michel Tuffery’s vibrant multi-media artwork First Contact 2012 will turn Te Papa into a huge moving canvas every night at dusk; the Ronaldo circus dynasty’s vintage Big Top will be pitched on the foreshore; a giant acrobatic spectacle will bring crowds to Waitangi Park and our home-grown Spiegeltent, the TelstraClear Festival Club, will be set right in the heart of the action in Odlin’s Plaza, with acts including the Topp Twins and Finnish accordion rock star Kimmo Pohjonen.
“I am excited to launch the 2012 Festival programme,’’ says Artistic Director Lissa Twomey. “The 2012 Festival is full of exuberance, energy and physicality with performances to stir the heart and stimulate the senses. We welcome Festival favourites, including the National Theatre of Scotland with Beautiful Burnout (their Black Watch was a hit of the 2008 Festival). Renowned choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Sutra) returns with his dazzling new work TeZukA, inspired by Japanese comic books. James Thiérrée (The Junebug Symphony, Bright Abyss) astounds in Raoul and Britain’s Kneehigh theatre company brings their delightful fairy tale, The Wild Bride. Transporting and fun – the 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival will bring audacious arts to Aoteoroa.’’
“The New Zealand work for 2012 is distinctively of and from Aotearoa,’’ Ms Twomey says. “The stand-out programme of Māori and Pacific Island work embraces the past while forging new and exciting futures. We are proud to present a brand-new opera Hōhepa, with NBR New Zealand Opera; other highlights include Lemi Ponifasio’s extraordinary dance work, Birds with Skymirrors; Patricia Grace’s award-winning novel Tu, brought to the stage by Hone Kouka, and The Conch’s Masi, a delightful Wellington cross-cultural love story, featuring special effects by Paul Kieve, magic adviser to the Harry Potter movies.”
There are nine world premieres for 2012. Also new are the Town Hall Gigs, including US indie sensations Bon Iver and a co-production with the Sydney Festival featuring five indigenous divas. Experience Shakespeare five ways with the Bard Wired series: performances include the UK’s acclaimed all-male Shakespeare company, Propeller. A Te Reo version of Troilus and Cressida premieres at the Festival before its season at London’s Globe Theatre. In an Irish Hamlet, a Great Dane threatens to steal the show. Downstage Solos celebrate this most demanding of art forms, including Taki Rua’s Michael James Manaia and Germany’s anti-gravity phenomenon, Leo.
Writers and Readers Week brings leading commentators and writers to Wellington from 9-14 March. Writer and academic Germaine Greer, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of our time; Australian environmentalist, scientist and author Tim Flannery; three-time Pulitzer-Prize winning author Thomas Friedman; Man Booker Prize-winner Alan Hollinghurst; Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø and New Zealand’s own Margaret Mahy are among the impressive international and national line-up.
Tickets for most shows start at $38-$48 and there are many free events and great value packages. “The 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival offers everything from Cantina, a sultry late-night circus for grown-ups, to White, an utterly charming theatre experience for the very young,’’ Ms Twomey says.