The Taranaki Arts Festival is set to return this year with another spectacular line-up. Acts hailing from Germany, Mexico, Ireland and more, as well as a strong Kiwi contingent, will be descending on what Lonely Planet called, “one of the world’s best regions to visit in 2017”.
From cabaret, comedy, theatre and dance, to poetry, music, a rock musical and even a laser demonstration, there’s something for everyone.
Taranaki Arts Festival Trust chief executive Suzanne Porter says this festival is not to be missed. “The line-up is incredibly strong and there are a number of performers with international awards to their name,” she says.
International acts include Velvet, a disco cabaret from Australia; Starman, a nod to the late, great David Bowie from the Netherlands/Germany; and a South Korean slapstick comedy, Chef – Come Dine With Us. Top local talents include Sal Valentine and The Babyshakes, and That Bloody Woman, a rock musical based on Kate Sheppard’s story.
If something more literary appeals to your senses, the festival hosts the Libri Lounge, which will showcase storytellers such as award-winning New Zealand author Catherine Chidgey, novelist Karyn Hay, journalist Nicky Hager and more.
But this year, the heart of the festival will be the newly created Staples Rodway Crystal Palace, based on the Belgium-designed spiegeltents (travelling tents) of the 19th century.
This mobile performance space, made up of 3000 pieces, will be housed on the Puke Ariki landing. With New Zealand ferns on its ornate mirrors, paua carved into the wooden pillars and gorgeous stained-glass windows featuring harakeke, this opulent venue is a must-see in itself. “Taranaki has a love affair with spiegeltents, and to see our culture reflected in such a beautiful venue will be a special experience,” says Porter.
For festival artistic director Craig Cooper, one of the highlights is The TSB Community Trust People’s Tower, an astonishing structure made with cardboard, piles of packing tape and people power. Designed by French artist Olivier Grossetête, The People’s Tower will rise in Pukekura Park.
Youngsters will help construct it, then witness its thrilling demolition at the end of the festival. “Olivier takes inspiration from the cities his creations will be in, so our festival tower will be uniquely Taranaki,” says Cooper.
August 17 to September 3; artsfest.co.nz