There is more, but don’t wait – buy a ticket now!

LogoYes, two proposed festivals were cancelled, but The Press Christchurch Writers’  Festival isn’t going to let a few earthquakes stop local audiences hearing the words of some of our best writers.

In July, August and September the festival is bringing some entertaining, challenging and thrilling literary events to Christchurch.

On Wednesday 27 of  July Rachael King and Lloyd Jones will be in conversation about The Silence Beyond: Selected Writings of Michael King. In this new book,  Rachael has assembled a collection of her father’s wide-ranging, often personal essays, talks and eulogies, some previously unpublished,  highlighting the full scope of talents of one of New Zealand’s greatest modern thinkers.

coverOn Sunday 7  August  Owen Marshall will be talking talking to broadcaster Ruth Todd about his subtle and compelling new novel, The Larnachs. This  tale of intrigue, morality, judgement and scandal draws on the family history  of James Ludie Lanarch – the politician and self-made man who built the famous ‘castle’ on the Otago peninsula. It is a memorable piece of fiction from one of our most talented authors.

I’ve already blogged about Tess Gerritsen and John Hart Setting the Stage for Murder as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival on Sunday 21 August. I’m so excited about Gerritsen I had to be restrained from telling  a woman on the street in Cheviot  with a copy of Girl missing about this event – apparently sharing such useful information with strangers is beyond tragic.  After Gerritsen and Hart discuss their latest novels there will be the presentation of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel by a New Zealandwriter in 2010, with the finalists all reading excerpts from their thrilling tales.

What’s For Pudding?  is the question Kate Fraser, food editor of The Press, will be posing to Alexa Johnston on Wednesday 31 August. Following on from the success of Johnston’s best-selling Ladies a Plate, her new collection of  tried and true recipes will be a selection of sweet treats that have graced New Zealand tables for generations. Apparently the choice of hot and cold puddings reflects the changing social habits in a century of cooking in New Zealand. Social habits have changed so much in my household that the question is what is pudding, not what is for pudding, so some tips might be timely.

I’m also really looking forward to Putting Words to the Feelings on Sunday 18 September, when five writers with strong Canterbury links – Fiona Farrell, Joanna Preston, Tusiata Avia, Carl Nixon and Charlotte Randall – reflect on their experiences of the Christchurch earthquake and how the reimagined landscape of the city and its surroundings will emerge within their writing.  This will be presented as part of Christchurch Arts Festival.

Which is your must-see session?

Winter Arts

Despite being hellishly busy co-directing a theatre/film piece (“Love You Approximately” by the clinic) for this arts festival, I have been lucky to make it to four ticketed events so far:

  • Slava’s Snow Show … well, I don’t watch TV but I hear there’s been television advertising for this, so most people probably have a good idea of what it’s like. Beautiful costumes, fantastic physical clown characters, a lot of humour and some neat special effects. Lacking a story or any sort of through-line, we simply witness slava and his very tall friend in a bunch of different comical situations. What awed me and my 6 year old companion was the fantastic audience participation, both at intermission and the end: a sweet, simple invitation to be part of the magic and play with the cool toys.
  • Love Letters in the Margin, a collaboration between 3 bands (Ragamuffin Children, Le Mot Cafe, The Eastern) and 3 poets (Ciaran Fox, Marissa Johnpillai, Ben Brown), in the TelstraClear tent, which is a lovely warm, red place to hang out and listen to great sounds and words.
  • The Intricate Art of Actually Caring, a highlight of the Wellington Fringe this year and a latecomer to the festival programme. Two young white Wellington guys with nothing better to do journey to Jerusalem to visit James K Baxter’s grave. Fantastic use of overhead projectors made this show really low-tech slick, giving me heaps of little smiles as well as outright laughter.
  • Finders Keepers, Raewyn Hill’s latest dance piece, so far the highlight for me. I admire the way Raewyn chooses collaborators, drawing on the best of all elements to make dance pieces that are so much richer and clearer for their incorporation of theatre, script, great set and costumes in a simple colour pallette excellently complemented by beautiful lighting by Marty Roberts. The piece is based on her experiences at the bird market in Hong Kong and is easily as good as any international dancetheatre piece I’ve seen in international arts festivals.

Other shows I plan to see include:

  • Once and for all we’re gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen, a Belgian theatre piece about being a teenager.
  • Winded, the latest dance performance created by Christchurch troupe Scrambled Legs.
  • Happy Home Road, a circus/theatre show which was featured in this morning’s Press.