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New Zealand to be big player in this year's Edinburgh Festival main

New Zealand at The Edinburgh International Festival
August 8 - 31

More than 200 New Zealand artists will take part in the world’s most acclaimed arts festivals in Edinburgh this August.

This is the first time such a large group of leading New Zealand actors, dancers, musicians, writers, performing artists, spoken word and visual artists has been invited to the celebrated Edinburgh Festivals, which each year attract an estimated 25,000 artists, 1000 international producers and an audience of four million.

New Zealand artists will feature at seven of the 12 annual  Edinburgh Festivals: the Edinburgh International Festival, regarded as the world’s leading arts festival; the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s biggest arts festival; the renowned Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo; the Edinburgh Art Festival; the Edinburgh International Book Festival; the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

Included in the season are director Lemi Ponifasio and his company MAU, Auckland Theatre Company, composer Gareth Far, Pasifika theatre group Kila Kokonut Krew, pianist Michael Houstou, Te Matatini’s national kapa haka champions, Black Grace and author Witi Ihimaera.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our talented New Zealand artists to show their work on such a high-profile world stage. It is a tribute to their talents and the quality of their work that the NZ at Edinburgh artists were invited to attend by the Edinburgh Festivals,” the chairman of the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand, Dr Dick Grant says.

“The timing is ideal as the New Zealand season coincides with the Commonwealth Games being staged in Glasgow this year. This means our elite and emerging artists and our elite and emerging athletes will be the centre of attention at the same period of time in Scotland. It will be a real plus for New Zealand,” he says.

Composer Gareth Farr, director Lemi Ponifasio and MAU, and pianist Michael Houstoun have been invited to take part in the prestigious Edinburgh International Festival.

Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, Sir Jonathan Mills, says: “Two important landmarks in 2014 that we share internationally are those of the centenary commemoration of the First World War and the Commonwealth nations gathering in Scotland for the Games. These provide inspiration points for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival and make these distinct and important contributions of the New Zealand artists central to the festival.”

“I am delighted that we will be once again be showcasing the work of Lemi Ponifasio and his company MAU, and presenting the Festival debuts of pianist Michael Houstoun and composers Douglas Lilburn and Gareth Farr, whose new work we will premiere."

Eight companies will take part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, appearing mainly at Assembly Festival and Summerhall venues, including Kila Kokonut Krew, Auckland Theatre Company and Black Grace.

Leading Te Matatini kapa haka groups, Te Waka Huia and Te Whānau ā Apanui and the New Zealand Highland Dancers will perform as part of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performing to an audience of 8800 each evening, 220,000 in all as well as an international television audience of several million.

Five New Zealand visual artists: Kushana Bush; Steve Carr; Gavin Hipkins; Shannon Te Ao and Yvonne Todd will take part in an international exhibition for the Edinburgh Art Festival which is shown in the city’s leading art galleries, museums and artist-run spaces.

Witi Ihimaera will take part in the Edinburgh International Book Festival, participating in events on language and nations, the evolution of language and post-colonial writing. Poets, writers and performers Daren Kamali and Grace Taylor of Niu Navigations have been invited to present Kai Kasi at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

Leading contemporary jazz band The Troubles will play a series of gigs as part of the Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, including being part of the Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra.

Poets Grace Taylor and Daren Kamali of Niu Navigations have been invited to take part in the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, a 10-day celebration of live storytelling, oral traditions and cultural diversity.

Also appearing at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe will be Java Dance with Back of the Bus, Fan Fiction Comedy and a solo show by Morgana O’Reilly, The Height of the Eiffel Tower.

Following his acclaimed performances of Tempest: Without a Body and Birds With Skymirrors at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2010, Lemi Ponifasio returns to Edinburgh with I AM, a new theatre work inspired by the legacy of World War I and the famous artwork of  Colin McCahon.

Gareth Farr's new work Relict Furies, with a libretto by Paul Horan, features alongside works by Elgar, Vaughn Williams, Peter Sculthorpe and Tippett performed by the Scottish Ensemble and Commonwealth Strings.

Michael Houstoun's concert will feature  music by Commonwealth composers – Vaughn Williams and Douglas Lilburn as well as masterpieces from Ravel and Rachmaninov.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: 1-25 August

Kila Kokonut Krew's The Factory which was a huge success at last year's Auckland  Arts Festival is New Zealand’s first Pacific musical looking at  the unique exploration of the Samoan migrant experience.

Black Faggot Victor Rodger  explores the problems of being young, gay and Samoan – especially when God and your mother are watching. A parade of colourful characters collides in this hit from the Auckland and Melbourne Fringe festivals.

Strange Resting Places written by Paolo Rotondo and Rob Mokaraka and performed by Cuba Creative combines live music with drama, comedy and is performed in Māori, Italian and English; it looks at the complex emotional bonds of New Zealand’s wartime history and the connections Māori shared with the Italians through whānau, kai and waiata.

Duck, Death and the Tulip is adapted from the award-winning book by Wolf Erlbruch. Duck, Death and the Tulip is a gentle, warm and witty story about an unlikely friendship between Duck and a character who introduces himself as Death. Together Duck and Death learn about the wonders of life and the sadness of death. Directed by Nina Nawalowalo with music from Gareth Farr, the show uses mime, magic and puppets, to tell a very special tale.

The Generation of Z is immersive, site-specific theatre at its most intense. Thrust into a post-apocalyptic world where the threat of zombie attack is imminent, audiences must fight for their survival. Drawing on the conventions of zombie movies, the show employs pre-recorded movie footage, live CCTV footage and a large cast of security guards and zombies performing in a maze-like security containment depot. The Generation of Z had a sell-out season after its premiere in Auckland in 2013.

Written by award-winning playwright Arthur Meek, On The Upside Down Of The World is based on the true story of intrepid Briton Lady Mary Ann Martin, who sailed to New Zealand to civilise the natives but instead found liberation and love as she fought against injustice dealt to Māori at the hands of the English.

Black Grace presents a collection of dance works by acclaimed choreographer Neil Ieremia. The work is rich in the story-telling traditions of the South Pacific and expressed with raw finesse, unique beauty and power

New Zealand’s two leading Te Matatini kapa haka groups, Te Waka Huia and Te Whānau ā Apanui, present HAKA, the story of Te Hokowhitu ā Tū, the Māori Battalion, in a poignant commemoration to those who fell and those who returned.

Creative New Zealand is assisting companies and artists with flights, freight and a contribution towards landed costs. The programme is supported by the New Zealand Government through Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Cultural Diplomacy International Programme and the British Council.

The Edinburgh International Festival (8-31 August)
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (1-25 August)
The Edinburgh Art Festival (31 July- 31
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (1-23 August)
Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival (19-27 July)
Scottish International Storytelling Festival (24 Oct to 2 Nov)
Edinburgh International Book Festival (9-25 August)

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