ARTS, Books, Music, Theatre & Performing Arts, Visual Arts
Selected highlights from the forthcoming New Zealand Festival for 2014.

img_needlesandopiumSeven Streams of the River Ota was one of my early great theatre experiences. I’m always excited to see a new Robert LePage play: his new Needles and Opium, inside Miles Davis, seems potent. Neko Case (‘Man’, ‘I’m From Nowhere’) and Charles ‘The World’ Bradley (subject of the poignant documentary Soul of America) delivered outstanding live gigs during my recent New York sojourn. I’ll be seeing them again. Christchurch’s finest, the blazingly intelligent Eleanor Catton, will deliver Writers Week’s New Zealand Book Council Lecture for 2014. She will mull over how change can reveal itself in fiction—as a change of heart, or a change of mind. Sir Peter Jackson will not be doing substantial interviews with local media (of course), but a new print of Bad Taste at the Embassy will be fun. I’ve assembled some highlights from The Lumière Reader’s past coverage of artists at this year’s New Zealand Festival, which begins in Wellington from February 21. We’ll be publishing in-depth interviews from the end of January.

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Robert Lepage

The Anderson Project (Alexander Bisley, review, 2009)
“Lepage splendiferously blends multimedia, from diminutive puppets to eye-popping visuals. Sometimes it’s most poignant; portraying Andersen’s unrequited love for Swede Jenny Lind. Other times it’s very witty; Frederic’s train ride segues into drug-fuelled clubbing, scored with DJ Tiesto’s ‘Sweet Surrender’ remix.” Read More

The Dragons’ Trilogy (Brannavan Gnanalingam, review, 2006)
“The strength of the play was in the direction. The set was simple, yet allowed for incredible mobility and striking images.” Read More

Eleanor Catton

A Correspondence with Eleanor Catton (Joan Fleming, interview, 2013)
“I find the idea of unsupported genius deeply distasteful: it disrespects mothers, and fathers, and teachers, and lovers, and all the accidents and opportunities and coincidences that conspire, along the way, to help create and launch an artistic sensibility. We need a new model: one that doesn’t depend on outmoded gender norms, destructive values, and the profoundly ugly idea that to be indebted is to be demeaned. Kindness is a core value for any artist, but most especially for a fiction writer: a self-centred person can’t see the world from another person’s point of view.”  Read More


Brel (Sam Brooks, review, 2012)
Not a musical, not a concert or even a play, Brel was an experience. Four performers working at the height of their abilities to deliver some of the best songs of the 20th century. Unforgettable, like mainlining bliss. Read More

Lemi Ponifasio

Lemi Ponifasio’s The Tempest (Ellen Loui, review, 2007)
“Clear, Beautiful. Masterful. There is nothing more necessary to say about Lemi Ponifasio’s production of The Tempest. The voice of this work, sentient and succinct, need not be interrupted. It speaks for itself with a sacred tongue.” Read More

Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi (Alexander Bisley, interview, 2008)
“A foreigner accurately described New Zealand as “a hive of mediocrity.” I agree with this statement because I believe we celebrate the mundane. Our artists get away with a lot when it comes to non-innovative creativity. I think this is one of the main reasons people leave; there just isn’t the support to nurture the risk-taking needed in art.” Read More

Show Me Love: Eagle vs. Shark (Tim Wong, review, 2007)
“While the inherent New Zealandness of Eagle vs Shark is never in doubt, it draws on a greater geographical force: Wellington. Another testament to the city’s incestuous creative community, its sights—from Titahi Bay to Manners Mall—are lived-in, personalised, and not at all obnoxiously touristy […] Waititi finds his own twangy wop-wops 15 minutes drive north of the city, where cultural caricatures, tracksuit-couture, and a high noon showdown combine to amusing, if overfamiliar effect.” Read More

Louis Sutherland and Mark Albiston

First we take Park City, then we take Berlin (Alexander Bisley, interview, 2013)
“Someone described our collaboration as a working biculturalism, and that the government should use us as a model to build a functioning government off. We think they were taking the piss. Ideas can build fast when things are working well.”—Mark Albiston Read More

Gaylene Preston

Gaylene Preston on Perfect Strangers (Alexander Bisley, interview, 2006)
Preston is committed to telling NZ stories. “Total creative freedom… I get to make my own work in the relative quiet with friends who I’ve worked with before and we all seem to have just got better at it as we have gone on.” Read More

Duncan Sarkies

Two Little Boys (Sam Bradford, review, 2008)
“Sarkies writes deadpan comedy with a vein of Kiwiana, a sort of subgeneric space within which Flight of the Conchords also operate… It is consistently amusing—a gentle smile plays across the lips—without ever being irresistibly hilarious.” Read More

Jill Trevelyan

Rita Angus: An Artist’s Life (Jodi Ruth Keet, review, 2008)
“Jill Trevelyan writes about Angus in a detailed and yet empathetic manner, which leaves the reader feeling a gratitude of debt to Trevelyan for bringing us this story, and also to Angus for her persistent passion and beliefs in what she was achieving even though, in her own day, it appears her efforts reaped very small reward.” Read More

Laurence Aberhart

Aberhart: The Last of His Kind? (Andy Palmer, review, 2007)
“Shooting almost exclusively in black and white, he photographs architecture, interiors and exteriors, cemeteries, monuments, and seascapes.” Read More

MAIN IMAGE: A still from Needles and Opium, © Nicola-Frank Vachon.