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By Lauren Harrigan
October 17, 2017

You're Going to Want to Get On Board with NZ Festival's 2018 Program

All of the arts.
By Lauren Harrigan
October 17, 2017

The New Zealand Festival has just announced its 2018 program, and you're going to want to start saving your coffee money for a festival ticket fund. The festival, world-renowned for its veritable feast of a lineup, happens every two years — so you can justify spending up on tickets when they go on sale soon.

The opening event, A Waka Odyssey, was announced a while ago. This is undoubtedly going to be one of the standout moments of the festival. The NZ Festival is well-known for pushing the envelope, and A Waka Odyssey seeks to upend national conversation about how New Zealand was discovered by its earliest inhabitants.

A huge fleet of traditional voyaging waka will sail from throughout the Pacific and converge on the harbour to open the festival in Kupe. A specially-commissioned theatre piece by Anna Marbrook, Hotu Barclay-Kerr and Kasia Pol will use the waters of Wellington Harbour as the largest stage ever seen in the festival. The waka will be welcomed by a 1000-strong haka (yes, a thousand people) on the waterfront and a musical score composed by Warren Maxwell for the event. Waka are facilitators of the arts throughout the Pacific, with their carving work, shore ceremonies and music, so it will be a truly historic sight to behold, and a perfect way to start the festival.

What happens once the festival has begun? Get a load of this:

David Byrne, kooky musical pioneer and ex-Talking Heads frontman will explore a plethora of musical and cultural references in a riveting live show that will have you wondering why you've never seen him before now. He's been creating for more than five decades now.

Swan Lake: Loch Na Heala will root the story of Swan Lake in the midlands of Ireland. Ancient mythology and the ills of the modern world collide in this stunning adaptation of the legendary ballet piece. Sadler's Wells are co-producing the piece with Michael Keegan-Dolan, and you can catch a post-show artist's talk after the show on March 15. We'll let you know more about that in time.

With The Last Jedi due for release later this year, go back to where it all began (we don't talk about the prequels) with Star Wars: A New Hope, performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. The original score by John Williams is rarely seen performed live, and NZSO is one of the few orchestras around the world who have had the opportunity to perform the legendary composition. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sit and listen to the full power of the orchestra as they bring the world of Star Wars to life.

Fresh from a sell-out debut at London's National Theatre, Barber Shop Chronicles is one not to miss. It brings together big topics of fatherhood, friendship, politics and football within a barbershop: a place for the African men in the play to gather and talk (and talk, and banter, and talk some more). It's life-affirming stuff, "irresistibly joyful" and will take you from the TSB Bank Arena to the barbershops of Africa and London.

Elsewhere, you'll find Afrofuturist jazz bassist Thundercat, Royal New Zealand's take on The Piano, Grizzly Bear and Australian performance troupe Casus Circus.

Besides these events, there are so many more worth reading about in the program. You can find the full program here — set a timer for those tickets. And keep in mind that if you book before November 28, you'll get the early bird price.

New Zealand Festival takes place from February 23 to March 11, 2018.

Published on October 17, 2017 by Lauren Harrigan

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