The Arts Are Back
Giant inflatable humanoids, Māori feminist cabaret, Pasifika musical theatre, The Topp Twins, acoustic opera, events for tamariki, a secular Requiem, His Holiness, unruly tourists, kanikani and more. Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki / Auckland Arts Festival (AAF) – with all the joy it brings – is back.
The 2022 festival programme, announced today, brings 80 individual events, including eight new commissions, 14 world premieres, seven New Zealand premieres and over 700 artists to Tāmaki Makaurau, and arts-lovers back together, from 10 to 27 March 2022.
Artistic Director Shona McCullagh MNZM says, “Our festival is an opportunity to celebrate creativity and expression of culture and identity as people of Aotearoa, and to share illuminating experiences together. After extended lockdowns with far too much screen time and isolation, and in a growing age of individualism, the arts are a vital portal to expand our minds, connect and grow our understanding and appreciation of each other and our differences.
“With Truth as a curatorial lens and theme for our 2022 Festival, we acknowledge our many voices, many worlds and perspectives. Artists are powerful antennae of societal dynamics and the zeitgeist – the soothsayers and courageous truth tellers. Our 2022 festival is a platform to uplift artists from all over Aotearoa and beyond, creating a truly rich and diverse offering for audiences to listen to, engage with, participate in and, above all, enjoy,” McCullagh says.
After a smash success at AAF 2021, The Civic Club returns in 2022 with a lineup of music, comedy and cabaret that includes imugi 이무기, Hans. and Teremoana Rapley; a TRUTHBOMBS comedy series featuring The Topp Twins, Pax Assadi and James Nokise; opera performer Deborah Wai Kapohe who returns with a fresh look at the 19th century practice of self-accompanying operatic arias with guitar; and global piano superstar Josh Cohen playing his famous Radiohead interpretations. Also at The Civic is the Festival’s major cabaret extravaganza, Truth and Lies, which features aerialists, B-boys, burlesque and a live band starring Brady Peeti.
The Festival’s resplendent Town Hall music series sees Whirimako Black perform alongside a group of the country’s best Māori Jazz performers in He Kōpara; Troy Kingi, Rio Hemopo, Dallas Tamaira and L.A. Mitchell pay homage to the soul legend in the Bill Withers Social Club; global dream pop superstars BROODS; a fusion of deeply rich jazz riffs with rap vocals and a killer hip-hop production with Tom Scott’s Avantdale Bowling Club; and a major classical concert that sees the world premiere of Victoria Kelly’s new secular Requiem as well as Ruby Solly’s new composition for taonga puoro and orchestra alongside opera stars Simon O’Neill and Jane Tankersley, all featuring the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Theatre works are performed in te reo Māori, Mandarin and English. Trick of the Light Theatre’s Lysander’s Aunty, in partnership with Auckland Theatre Company and Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, will be a highlight. As will the hilarious, bilingual ‘Chinese Spy Comedy’ Skyduck from Australian-based New Zealander Sam Wang. Mitch Tawhi Thomas’ latest work, Pakaru, is a gutsy portrayal of whānau and motherhood produced by Tanea Heke (Witi’s Wāhine); and Adelaide’s Patch Theatre Company, led by lighting designer Geoff Cobham, brings a brilliant and illuminating show for tamariki, ZOOOM.
From contemporary dance to ballet, McCullagh has again pulled together a spectacular dance programme which, this year, unites some of the best dancers in the country and two men who have never danced before. Untrained, by globally renowned Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin and restaged by NZ Arts Laureate Ross McCormack, presents two highly skilled male contemporary dancers and two first-timers in a show that is a brilliant experiment in masculinity and courage. Melting Pot is a showcase of short works by Freshmans Dance Crew and guest artists which merges hip hop, street dance, spoken word and contemporary dance. Michael Parmenter’s sold-out 2021 event, The Full Moon Folk Ball returns and, due to extreme demand, has been given a bigger venue in 2022 – the Auckland Town Hall. Sarah Foster-Sproull’s choreography features in two Festival works – the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Venus Rising and the highly anticipated world premiere of Double Goer.
Kaihautū Māori Ataahua Papa says, “Our Toitū Te Reo programme is again integrated into all aspects of the festival with the aim of normalising te reo Māori and ensuring it is seen and heard every day of our festival. This year’s programme of Māori artists, from aged 10 to 60+, delivers waiata, dance, theatre, opera, cabaret, kapa haka, comedy, and kōrero, and ensures Māori creatives are supported under the mantle of manaakitanga.”
Waiwhakaata – Reflections in the Water is a new Auckland Arts Festival commission which combines contemporary dance, explosive and innovative physical theatre, taonga puoro and kōrero tuku iho to deliver a story of hope and reconnection starring this year’s youngest performer - ten-year-old dancer Lezharn Avia-Elliott.
AAF 2022 opens with Tātou, Tātou E! – a massive, free, sing-along. MC Pere Wihongi and musician Maaka Pohatu will lead the Aotea Square crowd in well-known waiata including ‘Pōkarekare Ana’, ‘Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi’, ‘E Pāpā Waiari’ and Six60’s ‘Pepeha’.
Chief Executive David Inns says, “We are in the business of live performance, joy, connection, creativity and laughter – elements which have been lost in many ways here in Tāmaki Makaurau in recent months. We, along with our wider arts sector colleagues, are in a time where support and sponsorship of the arts is more important than ever. We are grateful for the tautoko from all our 2022 sponsors and partners, whose support allows us to continue creating this huge celebration of the arts that our community looks forward to so much each year.”
The festival’s 2022 whānau of supporters and sponsors include Auckland Council, Creative New Zealand, Colenso BBDO, Todd Corporation and Evans Randall, and NZME, along with major funder Foundation North. Partnerships include Auckland Live, Auckland Theatre Company, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal New Zealand Ballet, New Zealand Opera, Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, Auckland War Memorial Museum, The New Zealand Dance Company, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Te Pou Theatre and Silo Theatre.
AAF 2022 runs from 10 to 27 March at venues and locations across Tāmaki Makaurau, as well as some online presentations of international work. Early Bird discounts are available on most shows and events until Thursday 6 Jan. More info below and at aaf.co.nz.