The Festival Begins!
It’s Day One of the Auckland Arts Festival and the beginning of 19 days of fabulous performances and exhibitions from around the world. This last week has been hectic. The technical team has been building The New Zealand Herald Festival Garden in Aotea Square, Carabosse have been working on their Fire Garden, and the artist liaison team has prepared dozens of passes and gift bags for the arrival of our international artists. The Festival drivers will know every possible route to and from the airport very soon.
It’s been so good to see old friends from around the world. I caught up with La Cucina dell’Arte’s Danny Ronaldo, who I last saw in Antwerp, down in Aotea Square as he worked with the team to get their unique chapiteau (big top tent) up. I think he’s enjoying Auckland’s warm weather after the cold of a Belgian winter. And my old mates from the National Theatre of Scotland, producer Neil Murray and international representative Michael Mushalla have arrived, which usually means sampling a NZ wine or two. I will be spending some time in our Garden – I always use it as a meeting point before and after shows. I hope to see all of you there too.
A lot of people are involved in making a festival happen. The Festival staff has grown to about 200 now and there are an equal number of volunteers doing everything from lighting fires for Carabosse, to hosting White Night events and being singing extras in Nixon in China. And of course there are hundreds of artists involved in the productions on stage and behind the scenes.
I have been attending rehearsals of our new New Zealand works – they are all stunning. I am very proud of what our NZ artists have achieved. It is always fun to see the backstage version of the show in the studio – or the tin shed. Marama will be filled with illusion, poetry of movement and moments of visual exquisiteness,while Te Pō is an astonishing, intimate story that will make you laugh out loud, sing along and then will knock your heart to smithereens. And Not in Our Neighbourhood is an audacious, tour de force performance by Kali Kopae.
Today my last visit was to Black Grace’s studio to see Changes. Choreographer Neil Ieremia was working doing a fabulous job with his dancers, but in between times he was holding his new daughter and one of the dancer’s daughters – a real family affair. I always love being in the rehearsal room. It’s in the rehearsal room that I know most clearly why I love this job.