New Zealand International Arts Festival

Be transported into the realms of the extraordinary with the New Zealand International Arts Festival. From Spain to Guinea, France to India and Italy to New Zealand, the 24 February - 19 March 2006 Festival programme features more than 100 events handpicked from the best the world has to offer. Internationally recognised as one of the world's leading multi-arts festivals, the New Zealand International Arts Festival presents a three week feast of dance, theatre, fine and popular music, opera, visual arts, literature and multimedia events this coming summer in the capital city. Over the last 20 years the biennial Festival has, with core funding support from the Wellington City Council, established itself as New Zealand's largest and most significant arts and cultural festival, attracting more than 300, 000 people to each Festival.

Predominantly made up of exciting, innovative and diverse international acts, the Festival also has a strong ongoing commitment to supporting and showcasing New Zealand artists. For Carla van Zon, the 2006 Festival programme is extra special: 'This will be my last Festival as Artistic Director and my present to the festival audiences of New Zealand. We are passionate about the power of art, both in communicating ideas and bringing magic and colour to our lives.'

If you are a theatre junkie then 2006 is definitely your Festival. There is a host of award-winning shows including the Lexus season of Alan Bennett�s play The History Boys, directed by Nicholas Hytner (whose theatre and film successes include The Madness of King George and The Crucible) comes to the Festival after sell-out seasons in London. Theatre's most dazzling sorcerer Robert Lepage, who is regarded as an international theatre superstar, returns. He has wowed Festival audiences on more than one occasion - Seven Streams of the River Ota in 2000, The Far side of the Moon in 2002 - and now he brings one of his signature works The Dragon�s Trilogy, sponsored by ZB. An ancient legend is brought crashing into the 21st century in the TV3 season of Tristan & Yseult. Kneehigh

Theatre's high energy and eccentric update on the old legend comes complete with lovespotters in balaclavas and is told from the perspective of the unloved. It dazzled audiences and critics alike during its sell-out, five-star season at London's National Theatre. Carla van Zon says 'Tristan and Ysuelt is the best night I've had at the theatre this year.' When New Zealanders Mike Mizrahi and Marie Adams� play The Holy Sinner made its debut in 1990 in Auckland, it was hailed as the most extraordinary piece of theatre in recent memory and became a landmark contemporary New Zealand theatre work. Now, 16 years later, the epic play returns, revamped and more spectacular than ever, boasting an ensemble cast of some of our top performers and Oscar-winning designers Grant Major and Ngila Dickson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy). Sponsored by Sauce.

Embracing multimedia performance and sharpening the Festival�s edge are three events that exploit new technologies to amaze, fascinate and create powerful social commentary. The Telecom season of Eraritjaritjaka is a unique and magical piece of European theatre that Carla van Zon describes as �arthouse reality TV�. This exquisite exploration of identity and self layers live music by the Mondriaan Quartet, the writings of Nobel prize-winner Elias Canetti, with visuals and real-time video sequences. The Clemenger BBDO season of Super Vision, which is the Festival�s first-ever international commission, is the theatre piece in which virtual and real performers interact to tell multilayered stories of life in the digital age.

It will make you think about the size of your data body and question whether our world is not that dissimilar to Orwell�s 1984 or Aldous Huxley�s Brave New World. Renowned New York-based musician, Paul D Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid brings us his latest project DJ Spooky�s Rebirth of a Nation. Taking his talents for remixing sound and music and applying them to the medium of film, he remixes live D W Griffith's infamous 1915 silent film The Birth of a Nation to make a strong statement about race and our inability to learn lessons from history.

Two pinnacle music events that make their Australasian debut at the Festival are Oscar-winning Chinese/American composer Tan Dun's opera Tea: A Mirror of Soul. Tan Dun returns to New Zealand to conduct the NZSO for three opera performances. And the United Kingdom's renowned composer/conductor James MacMillan visits New Zealand for the first time to conduct his own work Quickening in a programme that includes works by award-winning New Zealand composer Ross Harris. Another living composer is New Zealander John Psathas, whose work Zeibekiko, an original programme inspired by 2, 500 years of Greek music, makes its New Zealand premiere at the Festival.

One of the themes of this year's Festival is celebrating living artists and two New Zealand musical events do that wholeheartedly. Acclaimed New Zealand poet Hone Tuwhare�s work is being celebrated in a unique concert by some of our most talented musicians, including Goldenhorse, Hinemoana Baker, Don McGlashan, Graham Brazier and Charlotte Yates to name a few, who bring original music to his words. Tuwhare is co-produced by Toi Maori Aotearoa and sponsored by The Dominion Post and Smokefree Arts with support from Creative New Zealand. There is also a tribute concert to the Maori Showbands, which sees one of the original showbands The Maori Volcanics perform with a newly formed ten-piece showband The Maori Allstars, in a concert MC-ed by ex showband member and NZ Idol judge Frankie Stevens. This special concert is sponsored by Transpower.

Other music highlights include American jazz legend and 16-time Grammy Award-winning guitarist Pat Metheny who will perform a one-night-only concert with Christian McBride and Antonio Sanchez, sponsored by AMP. There are also Senegalese world music superstars Orchestra Baobab, Mercury Award-winner and mastermind of the 'Asian Underground' sound of the late 1990's Talvin Singh with his musical show Tabtek which is sponsored by ZM. Singh plays tabla and his live music fuses the rhythmic intensity of Indian classical music, bhangra, with contemporary electronica and drum �n� bass. Fusing the world of music and theatre are our very own Nic McGowan and Duncan Sarkies with their live music time capsule Instructions for Modern Living, sponsored by TV3.

The passion of the Mediterranean is abundant and quite contagious in the 2006 Festival dance programme. Italy�s leading contemporary ballet company Aterballetto brings its ensemble of 20 dynamic dancers, who make their Australasian debut, sponsored by Stagecoach. Spain�s finest flamenco dancer Eva Yerbabuena is sure to dance up a storm of passion with her fancy footwork in a show sponsored by the Todd Corporation.

The glorious world of words takes centre stage once again at the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week which hosts a larger-than-ever literary lineup including luminaries such as Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham (The Hours) prominent, journalist Robert Fisk and pre-eminent chronicler of our times, travel writer Jan Morris.

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