The full programme for the 2017 Christchurch Arts Festival has been released featuring 50 events spread across three weeks from 30 August to 17 September.
Already announced for the Festival are three shows at The Court Theatre – Hudson & Halls Live!, Scriptless: First Class and Matai, along with China’s Guangdong Dance Company’s one night only performance of Beyond Calligraphy. Tonight the rest of the programme was revealed with artists hailing from Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil and South Korea along with the best New Zealand shows on offer.
Festival Director Craig Cooper said this year the Festival explores the notion of connection – across time and space in a time when we are said to be “more connected than ever, but are we really? In today’s increasingly online and virtually-connected world, how do we live up to the ideal of a globally connected community, city and world? Technology may not necessarily be the friend of progress we had hoped.”
Cooper said at the heart of any arts festival is the thrill of live performance with a unique connection between an artist and audience which cannot be gained through a device or online.
Christchurch Arts Festival 2017 features a varied programme that traverses dance, music, spoken word, visual art, theatre and comedy.
The Festival opens on Wednesday 30 August with Play On, presented in association with Loop and the Isaac Theatre Royal. In a world first, award-winning composer Paul McLaney and the producers behind Fly My Pretties brought together a roll call of high profile New Zealand musicians to perform Shakespeare’s most well-loved soliloquies as a song cycle. Play On premiered at the Pop-up Globe in Auckland last year and comes to Christchurch as part of the Festival with a cast featuring Julia Deans, Ria Hall, Maisey Rika, Laughton Kora, Fran Kora, Mara TK and Paul McLaney.
From South Korea comes the crazy antics of the cast of Chef: Come Dine With Us – a mash-up of beatboxing, B-boying, acrobatics and slapstick comedy for three nights only at the Charles Luney Auditorium.
Circus and acrobatics of another kind feature in VELVET: A Divine Discotheque Circus – a seductive fusion of disco, dance and circus featuring an international ensemble of music, dance and circus artists with legendary diva Marcia Hines. VELVET plays at The Piano from 6-17 September.
From France comes Olivier Grossetête’s Ephemeral City – using just cardboard boxes and tape a new building will be constructed in the centre of the city … and then demolished the next day. This community event is free and open to everyone. It includes fun workshops to prepare the complex elements of cardboard architecture, and then everyone is invited to construct the building, and to pull it down.
Two new works have been commissioned for the 2017 Festival: Luke Di Somma’s new musical theatre piece The Things Between Us, and Arthur Meek’s multimedia adventure Erewhon Revisited. Cooper said that commissioning Di Somma’s new work followed on from the hugely successful 2015 hit That Bloody Woman which is currently touring New Zealand. The Things Between Us is an intimate piece which takes a provocative and playful look at coupledom in the modern world.
Erewhon Revisited is a multimedia adventure featuring love, laughter, music and property speculation and shines a new light on Samuel Butler’s classic New Zealand novel. To create and perform the show Meek has trained in the art of magic lantern to become a newly qualified Magic Lantern Showman.
Cooper said that strong solo shows like Erewhon Revisited feature throughout the 2017 Festival programme.
“When I was putting together this year’s Festival I was taken with the number of quality solo shows being produced around the world,” Cooper said.
Other solo shows include the controversial Manifesto 2083 about Anders Breivik and what led him to commit an act of terror that shocked the world; Jane Eyre: An Autobiography by Britain’s Rebecca Vaughan; from Ireland comes the blackly comic ghost story Underneath; New Zealand comedy sensation Barnie Duncan in Calypso Nights, from Mexico, the heart-wrenchingly hilarious Perhaps Perhaps… Quizás, and New Zealand comedian Nic Sampson embodies Ernest Rutherford in Ernest Rutherford: Everyone Can Science!
Movement, song, sound and theatre combine in Poropiti featuring Tola Newbery and Mara TK, while from Sweden Sirqus Alfon’s I Am Somebody crafts together light, sound and humour in a high-tech performance for the internet generation and TED Talk sensation Grace Taylor storms the stage in Auckland Theatre Company’s My Own Darling.
Already announced for the Festival is SILO Theatre’s hit show Hudson & Halls Live! along with Scriptless: First Class which brings together the alumni of Scared Scriptless for one night only back on stage. These two shows feature at The Court Theatre along with Matai, part of the EMERGE: Works in Development season.
Also in the EMERGE programme is Victor Rodger’s cabaret Christ(church) Almighty! at the Gloucester Room, Isaac Theatre Royal, and Two Productions’ pop-up event Hell or High Water.
For young audiences, Scotland’s Will Pickvance performs Anatomy of the Piano (For Beginners) and Capital E National Theatre for Children’s An Awfully Big Adventure follows the stories of two young men during World War One – one a keen enlister, and the other, a conscientious objector.
Two major dance shows feature in the Festival with one night only performances at the Aurora Centre – from China comes the ground-breaking Guangdong Modern Dance Company with their award-winning Beyond Calligraphy, while New Zealand Dance Company brings its double-bill The Absurdity of Humanity featuring Matter by Christchurch choreographer Ross McCormack.
The Piano is the hub for the Festival’s music line-up with free music before and after shows on selected dates in the Festival Lounge. Ria Hall is a blazing female force in New Zealand music and performs tracks from her long-awaited debut album, while ‘haka-soul’ artist Rob Ruha brings The Pūtawa Collective to the stage in a concert fusing ambient guitars, powerful vocals and hypnotic percussion.
Australia’s Michael Griffiths was a festival favourite in 2015 and returns in 2017 with his ‘de-lovely’ show Cole tracing the colourful life and timeless songs of Cole Porter; while from Germany and The Netherlands comes Sven Ratzke and his band in Starman, a crazy, intimate show exploring David Bowie’s life and classic songs.
Brazil’s Rodrigo Amarante is known for the Emmy-nominated theme song ‘Tuyo’ for Netflix television series Narcos and melds Brazilian beats, alt-rock and soaring folk for one night only at The Piano; Christchurch’s Atlas Voices’ Polar Opposites concert features the New Zealand premiere of Dan Forrest’s soul-lifting ‘Requiem for the Living’ with 100-voice chorus, soloists and orchestra.
The Great Hall hosts two music shows – legendary French star Edith Piaf’s extraordinary life and songs feature in Exposing Edith; and dust off your dancing shows for Ireland’s An Déise with special guest Roesy and a Céilí to follow.
The University of Canterbury School of Music presents four concerts during the Festival – three concerts in the Virtuosity Series, and Oresteia Experience which includes a curated tour through the university’s Teece Museum and Logie Collection of Antiquities now relocated to a new home at The Arts Centre, followed by the New Zealand premiere of Iannis Xenakis’ spine-tingling operatic take of Aeschylus’ Oresteia.
The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra has two concerts during the Festival – the Beca Artist Series with cellist Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, and the Lam & Hayward Masterworks’ concert Tchaikovsky 5; while Chamber Music New Zealand bring acclaimed pianist Michael Houstoun together with Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova for a three day mini-concert performing all 10 Beethoven piano and violin sonatas.
Just ahead of the Festival opening, The Royal New Zealand Ballet presents the Ryman Healthcare Season of Romeo and Juliet.
Alongside this packed programme of theatre, cabaret, music and dance sits a programme of ideas. In association with WORD Christchurch, Shifting Points of View provokes and inspires with big bold ideas and old-fashioned storytelling. The exciting line up of local and international writers and commentators includes British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge; Australian satirist, documentary maker and provocateur John Safran; Australian online sensation Clementine Ford and charismatic Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett.
Visual arts during the Festival include exhibitions at Christchurch Art Gallery, The National, The Physics Room and Form Gallery as well as a special light installation, The Lover and The Lookout in Market Square on Saturday and Sunday nights.
Christchurch Arts Festival 2017 takes place from 30 August to 17 September 2017 with tickets on public sale from Wednesday 21 June. Find out more and book tickets at artsfestival.co.nz
Christchurch Arts Festival acknowledges the support of Major Funders: Christchurch City Council and Creative New Zealand