Wow. The program for next year’s international arts
festival in Wellington has just been announced, and I can
hardly wait to order my tickets. Top of my must-see list is
the celebrated French poet/acrobat Philippe Sacré-Bleu,
who balances on a wheelbarrow while reciting Rimbaud,
but put me down, too, for the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police Brass Band’s dazzling tribute (with searchlights) to
the music of Leonard Cohen—God, if that doesn’t fill the
Westpac stadium I don’t know what will—and Hamlet on
skateboards by the cult Danish duo Elsie & Nore.
Nor could I bear to miss the world-renowned Hungarian
gypsy ensemble with their dancing kittens and the
critically acclaimed German theatre production of Janet
Frame’s Owls Do Cry, or Die Owlen Gehen Boo-hoo-hoo.
And I just couldn’t look myself in the eye if I failed to get
along to the breathtaking midnight waterfront
performance by Siegfried and the Grinning Skulls, which
should still leave time for the cutting-edge Cuban/Italian
dance troupe Pasta La Vista and their flaming spaghetti
routine. Oh, and then there’s the cult Danish duo (a
different one) whose Jemaines of the Day pays oblique
tribute to Flight of the Conchords and Dave Dobbyn.
And I haven’t even mentioned writers’ and readers’ week!
But just quickly, I’ve put a circle around the panel debate
between the challenging British thinker Gordon Brown-
Blair, the Bedouin-American novelist Britney Sands
whose books have taken Algeria by storm, Bill Manhire
and the controversial Swedish blogger Oskar Nominee.
Above all, let me plead with all intending festivalgoers not
to miss the avant-garde theatre ensemble from Belarus: in
the course of their three-hour production no one utters a
word—in fact, no actors appear on the stage at all. Part of
the charm of the work, apparently, is that for the audience
it remains an open question as to whether the ensemble
has even arrived in the country. This is precisely why we
need international festivals, because local artists just can’t
afford to put on work of that scale and depth. Book now!