Day 10

Above: On tonight at the Blyth Performing Arts Centre.

Reviews from Wednesday's shows

Le Moana gifted us their exquisitely choreographed and supremely executed performance 1918,  followed by a gracious, insightful Q&A session, which many stayed on for. Nafanua shared her  journey with this moving dance work in her review on The Hook.

"The exquisite precision of choreography, lighting design and music bring such fullness that I am able to lose myself completely to their effect. I am able to focus and see every expressive gaze at changing horizons, every practiced muscle from months of preparation and, most of all, I am able to see before me the stories that I’ve always only heard."

Later, Mikelangelo and Wellington brass band, Niko Ne Zna, entertained us in the Spiegeltent - Ian Thomas was there along with Elvis.

"He’s an original character with his own history to share. He makes us believe in him and almost believe him. His voice is two octaves lower and the music is frequently more frenetic and in minor keys...From the years of despair we are treated to a remarkably doleful cover of ‘His Latest Flame’. ‘Suspicious Minds’, related back to post-Soviet troubles, is given a polka treatment."

Blog post: 6.30pm

Down in the Festival Garden, the Festival crew are quietly humming along with preparations for another beautiful evening. Talking with bar staff, the most popular drink is the Festival Mocktail - "it's gone like crazy," says Paula. Faye says there's a fairly random pattern to best-sellers, with different drink popularity on different nights - "syrah nights, pilsner nights...the crowd for Songs of Ivor Cutler drank copious amounts of gin."

Marita explains the latter: "This is because you can get a much better sound out of your wine glass with gin."

At The Huntess, the venison burger has outstretched everything, at Piku it's the porkbelly steamed bun - in priority of order, the tofu version comes last.

Blog post: 7.30am

Tonight we have the rare gift of Le Moana's 1918 in the Blyth at 7pm. It's a remarkable dance-theatre work and has received acclaim and "rapturous applause" both here and overseas. Tickets still available.

At 8.30pm Mikelangelo (the Balkan Elvis), accompanied by Dave Evans and Niko Ne Zna, Wellington's Balkan brass gypsy band, will upturn the Spiegeltent with his East Bloc Rock. Mikelangelo is a guaranteed festival favourite; his shows are always an outrageous blend of theatrical, musical talent and ecstatic fun. We LOVE Mikelangelo and he loves us! Limited tickets left, you'll need to snap them up quick.

Today in schools, Kokako's Song.

Freedom is Behind My Breath

As part of the final weekend of the Arts Festival, our festival commissioned work, Freedom is Behind My Breath, will premiere at the Blyth, where you're invited to into the fold of a beautifully told local story.  This story was gifted by a local whanau through a wananga process. It's a collaboration of performers and theatre-makers who have journeyed together over a six-month period to create a reflection of this living story, woven together through words, voice, art, lighting and movement .     

Puti Lancaster, who has brought previous collaborations to the Festival, Edge of a Raindrop and Contours of Heaven, is co-directing this work with Owen McCarthy.  They are joined by Pereri King, a Napier-born musician, actor and conservationist, actor/dancer Manuel Solomon, who joins the team from his Wellington home, and  12-year-old Eru Heke from Flaxmere, a student at Irongate School.  Other collaborators include Ruby Reihana Wilson (lighting designer), Iwi Toi Kahungunu (Maori artist collective) and Penny Fitt.

Puti describes this social dialogue, and the mutual trust and support and self-healing intrinsic to the creation of this piece, as a process of “Whakamarama - the illumination of voices in the room and the story is both expressed and heard through the connection between actors and ultimately the audience.”  Puti and Owen are clear, “Our kaupapa is to connect people and share stories. Our ambition to grow us as people, to share the stories that need to be told and heard through our experiences of local stories of this region but also allowing us as a nation to reflect as a society.” 

We feel that this is a show that reflects and mirrors the stories in all of us, and for that reason would like to engage as wide an audience as possible. 

For those that would like to come but financial means are a barrier, we would like to hear from you.  For those who have the means and would like to 'Pay It Forward', please also be in touch.

We are asking for those able, to pay $50 for two tickets, one for yourself and one we gift to someone of our choosing.   Please be in touch with the Festival team directly by emailing


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