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Under an East Coast moon

The inaugural Tairawhiti Arts Festival starts in only five weeks time and now is the time to make theatre reservations for shows. So much is packed into the October 4 – 20 season the number of performances for each theatrical event or concert are limited so early bookings are recommended for the festival’s affordable productions.

A slight change to ticketing means bookings for all Tairawhiti Arts Festival shows can be made at Gisborne i-Site and www.iticket.co.nz.

Online bookings for Tairawhiti Arts Festival events can also be made at www.tetairawhitiartsfestival.nz which is where you will also find the full programme.

Lawson Field TheatreThe world premiere of the Nancy Brunning-directed production Witi’s Wahine will be held at the refurbished Lawson Field Theatre (LFT) on October 5, the second day of the arts festival. Local interest in this play based on women from Waituhi-born writer Witi Ihimaera’s stories, and performed by actors with strong connections to this region, is sure to be keen. A matinee and early evening performance will be held the following day. The LFT will also be home to the arts festival’s productions of Henare, the story of Ngati Porou composer Henare Waitoa; Samoan New Zealander Tusuata Avia theatrical poetry event, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, Sneak Peeks — a preview of local works in development; and Taki Rua’s confrontational but richly textured and funny Cellfish.

As with almost all productions in the festival line-up Cellfish, which enjoyed sell-out seasons at Auckland Arts Festival, is one of many shows Gisborne and East Coast people would usually have to travel to a main centre, and pay big city prices for tickets, to see. As with Witi’s Wahine, general admission tickets for this production is only $25.

Supported by members of Jolt Dance Company and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, a student-led work, Tukutuku, that celebrates dancers and musicians of all abilities, will also be staged at the LFT on October 16.

The last Tairawhiti Arts festival show to be held at the LFT is I Ain’t Mad At Cha, the story of a young Maori boy’s relationship with rhymes and his struggle with identity.

War Memorial TheatreThe first festival performance to be staged at the War Memorial Theatre (WMT) will be dancer Rodney Bell’s Meremere/ Movement of the Human. Described by The New Zealand Herald as “layered, compelling, autobiographical performance powered with documentary footage, interviews, movement and imagery” only three performances of this work will be held, all on Saturday October 12.

That evening the theatre hosts dancer Tupua Tigafua’s tribute to the work of writer Shel Silverstein, Shel We?

Silverstein was American writer known for children’s books such as Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, and The Giving Tree; he was lyricist for hits that include Sylvia’s Mother, and A Boy Named Sue and as a cartoonist contributed to Sports Illustrated, This Week, and Playboy magazine. Silverstein’s off-beat style and metaphorical imagery in his poetry and illustrations was the inspiration for Tigafua’s choreography. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s Landfall series of works commissioned to mark 250 years since the first formal encounters between Maori and European continues with the world premiere of New Zealand composer Kenneth Young’s Te Mapouriki (The Dusk). The work reflects how British explorer James Cook was changed by his experiences in the Pacific. The one night only concert includes Mozart’s Symphony No. 31, and K. Paris, Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1, and Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, Op. Spring.

Tickets for this concert can also be bought at the LFT box office Mon-Fri 12-5pm and www.ticketdirect.co.nz

In an all-woman production, this time at the WMT, singers Annie Crummer, Bella Kalolo, Ria Hall and Jackie Clarke pay tribute in their show Respect to American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist Aretha Franklin. Respect lifts the WMT roof over two nights, October 18 and 19.

Outdoor Theatre (Soundshell)A stellar line-up that includes Dave Dobbyn, Anika Moa, Annie Crummer, Maisey Rika, Rob Ruha and Teeks present a concert named after a song written by festival director Tama Waipara. Under an East Coast Moon features a special guest appearance from contemporary Hawaiian musician Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole with Shawn Pimental. Along with productions at three of Gisborne’s theatres the inaugural Tairawhiti Arts Festival includes many performances, events and installations at various other venues. In the run up to the festival the Guide will run previews of shows.

SHEL WE?: Tairawhiti Arts Festival events and performances such as dancer Tupua Tigafua’s Shel We? are sure to sell out fast. Gisborne arts festival-goers are encouraged to book early. Picture supplied