By David Malacari - 23 Mar 2011
The Festival's last week continued to unveil more exciting work for Auckland and gave more people a chance to experience a breathtaking range of performances.
Thrilled by the shows in the Spiegeltent and by the Vietnamese Water Puppets in
the Garden Theatre; audiences kept the Festival Garden buzzing into
the wee small hours throughout the week. Our visiting international
artists and local performers benefited not only from sharing their
craft with festival goers but from sharing them with each other.
The Festival has become a vital and dynamic meeting place for
performance, performers, arts and ideas.
Reviews of Festival shows generated a great
response. Currently media is devoted to reporting saddening stories
of natural disasters and political unrest. At times like this, I
think it's comforting to reflect on events that can help us
transcend these traumatic experiences. Art is a wonderful
expression of the great courage and joy which are possible even in
the darkest of moments.
Some of the week's highlights include:
-rapt, a Festival
dance-theatre commission by Douglas Wright, gave audiences the
chance to see "an important work in divining and inspiring New
Zealand culture" (NBR).
-Audiences who attended the dance-theatre piece The Show
Must Go On by French choreographer Jerome Bel were given a
creative work-out. The performers were auditioned to reflect the
people of Auckland and provided an experience that was challenging
and confronting even as it had some audience members standing,
sashaying, swaying and singing to the pop songs which were its
the Ocean had audiences holding their breath, mesmerized by the
beauty and subtlety of percussion that was alternately trancelike
and spine rattling.
-Physical theatre from Gaff Aff had performer Martin Zimmermann
scampering over seats to keep up with the cardboard rat race he and
Dimitri de Perrot created on stage as a metaphor for our modern
-Carnival of Souls,
performed at the Mercury Theatre in the Festival's first week,
moved to The Civic for the Festival's last night. It's been a
pleasure for us to use these wonderful venues, particularly Mercury
Theatre which offered Aucklanders the chance to reacquaint
themselves, or visit for the first time, this classic Auckland
-Conor Lovett brought his nuanced interpretations of Beckett's
First Love and The
End to the Festival. This was a real treat. The Irish company's
performances were particularly pertinent as they coincided with St
-The pack-out of the Festival Garden was a little sad. We bid a
fond farewell to the Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent, the Garden
Theatre, the Stoneleigh Garden Bar, and the TV3 Garden
Stage. It was great to see the Square become a spot for
people to come to play and stay. The Festival Garden really showed
Auckland how the Aotea Square can be used as an engaging venue for
Sadly, this was my last Auckland Arts Festival.
I hope that my legacy for the event will be a discussion
on the development of the Festival's repertoire. This
year the inaugural White Night was a tremendous success
and allowed Aucklanders to view their galleries and museums as part
of a city that is alive and engaged with creativity, performance
Over the years the Festival has continued to engage more
Aucklanders in a broader range of cultural activities and activated
the energies of the city so that it is increasingly recognised as a
major cultural centre of the Asia Pacific and a more attractive
city because of that. Over the years the Festival has continued to
bring to Aucklanders new and unique arts and cultural experiences,
commissioning and presenting wonderful work from our own artists
including The Arrival, rapt, Sleep/Wake, Strange
Resting Places, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, Terrain, Dark Tourists,
The New Zeibekiko and
has continued to bring amazing international artists and work also
including: Ishinha (Nostalgia), Heiner Goebbels (Max Black),
Robert La Page (The Andersen Project), Groupe F's A Little More
Light - fireworks display), Ea Sola (The White Body), Angelin
Preljocaj (The Four Seasons), La Clique. These events have
culminated in a 2011 programme of astonishing diversity including
FranceDanse New Zealand 2011, The Manganiyar Seduction, La Odisea, and
the Ocean to unfairly name only a few.
Ultimately, for me, the success of the Festival will be measured
on whether something in it made a difference to someone - whether
some work or performance opened someone's mind to think differently
or interpret their own lives or the world around them in a
different way. Working on the past four festivals has
certainly done that to me.
Each Festival at least one event or performance or artist has
produced a moment of great elation in my heart. I hope you
too have had such experiences.