Festival Director Pitsch Leiser gives us an insight into the 2019 Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival, which runs from 15-28 October. This year's event also marks the fifth anniversary of Hawke's Bay's much-loved celebration of the arts.
Reaching the festival’s fifth birthday is an amazing achievement – what are you most proud of?
That we have managed to bring to live an incredibly ambitious programme of local, national and international work of a world class standard right here in Hawke’s Bay and develop it into an exciting and sustainable annual event for the region.
I’m most proud of the calibre of people who have come to work with us in making this dream a reality, all of which are exclusively based in Hawke’s Bay and have the skill and expertise to tackle all the challenges that an event of this size can muster.
Tell us about some of the ways the festival has evolved since 2015?
We started off programming an entire festival lineup into one pop-up venue, The Famous Spiegeltent, as our sole venue in Havelock North. Since then we expanded to other venues including in Central Hawke's Bay, Hastings, Napier and Wairoa.
We developed a festival for schools programme that last year that reached over 11,000 students, offering professional work by New Zealand and international artists for young people aged from three to 17 years.
Our overall focus has been in supporting great local work alongside some fantastic touring work from New Zealand and around the world. And more specifically, we have brought some outstanding contemporary dance and theatre by Māori and Pasifika companies to Hawke’s Bay showcasing great diversity in our programme.
So, what can we expect from the 2019 event?
With Limbo coming to Hawke’s Bay for the first time ever, we have taken another another great leap to offer outstanding world class circus, music, magic and cabaret in our region, offering a unique night of world class entertainment to celebrate our fifth anniversary.
A selection of great New Zealand legends including Dave Dobbyn, The Topp Twins, Michael Hurst and Shayne Carter alongside Julia Deans, and our local icon Ben Throp and his Band of Intimate Strangers will bring the house down. Other great international acts include Blues master Greg Copeland from the southern states of America and Alma Flamenca presenting Ida Y Vuelta, a journey through flamenco puro with a 12-strong line up of dancers and musicians from Australia, Venezuela, Spain and India.
Once the festival is underway, where will we find you?
Usually I can be found on site at the festival hub on the Village Green, my favourite place to soak up the festival atmosphere having fun with the festival team and enjoying the best hospitality and local music I could wish for.
What are some of this year’s hidden gems we should keep an eye out for?
- Ida Y Vuelta will brim with passion telling the story of Flamenco. If you like passion, this is your show.
- Meremere will be a most beautiful multimedia work featuring live music, dance, story telling and exceptional video and film, featuring the autobiographical story of Rodney Bell.
- Portraits in Motion will warm your heart with beautifully photographed encounters between complete strangers brought to live through flipbook cinema and great storytelling by Volker Gerling, one of Germany’s well loved photographers. A quirky delight, one of those shows you hope to stumble across, an oddity and revelation, a poetic sensation.
- The Bookbinder by Trick of the Light Theatre is spellbinding storytelling at its purest and best. Staged at Napier’s Paisley Stage, the perfect venue for this one man performance, of an inventive and dark fairy tale. this will be a fantastic show for the whole family, young and old. A beautiful, articulate and engaging work that is bringing to live the content of a book through puppetry and storytelling in the vein of Neil Gaiman.
- High Rise – Performed in an old warehouse in the old Tribune buildings, Cameron Jones takes us on a roller coaster ride with his award winning play written as a tribute to a story close to home. High Rise catapults to its climax with dangerous speed and an ending with a twist that holds the key to this piece. Don your hard hats and high vis jackets and enjoy a gritty story right here from Hawke’s Bay like you have never seen before.