Sunday, March 28, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
In the very limited time available to us, we can only really scratch the surface a bit. We manage to create a few intriguing little scenarios, and we also get to talk about Maori theatre and its place in relation to Maori people, New Zealand and the world. It's intriguing that so much Maori theatre is historical - it's to do with the ghosts, I suppose. But Maori film tends to be very contemporary. We talk about the possibility of bringing the ghosts directly into the contemporary world - but we don't really manage to do it practically. It would take some weeks to manage that!
I go to a show called 360, which involves sitting on a swivel chair while the action moves around on a circular stage. Then on to the Festival Club, where I get to meet Lissa, the Festival director, as well as the Chair of her board - a former Minister - and some key decision makers from Perth and Auckland. Very pleasing to hear that they all know about Border Crossings, and are interested in our work. Lots of DVDs to send out when I get home!
Spent the morning at the NZ Film Archive, watching a film called Patu! It's about the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand, the protests against it, and the extreme violence through which they were put down. The film-maker is Maori, but specifically Maori resistance is only a small part of the film - though an important one. It's very interesting to see the links that were made between them and the anti-apartheid struggle. Of course, it was Australia's approach to the Aboriginal people that gave the South Africans the model for apartheid.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I flew back down to
Two performances in the Festival in
Friday, March 12, 2010
OK - off to the party I go....
Thursday, March 11, 2010
During the day, CNZ had given us a showcase of some work in development, both theatre and dance. I always find it tricky to work out what a show is like from an extract performed out of context, but at least I got the chance to see Atamira Dance Company, and to have lunch with Moss and Dolina, who run it. Dolina is pregnant - and tells me about Richard Nunns playing traditional instruments onto the bump. Music is very much related to healing and nurturing in Maori culture.
Wednesday morning saw me get on the plane to Taranaki, in the West. Incredible views of the volcano as we came in to New Plymouth, where Sounds Aotearoa is happening for two days, followed by Womad. Sounds is a combination of more showcasing - this time for music - with a conference about how to develop the NZ music industry. My interest in it is the indigenous work, of course. Richard Nunns played again last night, this time with a singer called Whirimako Black. The dialogue between her voice, singing traditional songs, and his solo instruments, was wonderful. It's also great to be here because there are so many other Festival directors and the like around. It's especially great to see Rhoda Roberts, who until very recently ran The Dreaming. I'm able to give her a copy of the Origins programme, with the article I wrote about her, the festival, and her film. She says it made her cry. I tell her that she'd done the same for me.
I was asked to speak on a panel about touring music to the UK and Europe. Of course, I know nothing about this, so instead I speak about Origins, about the need to hear First Nations cultures in London, and about what music can do in the global space. It seems to go down very well, if only as a break from all the "get your marketing plan right" sessions. As the conference closes, we are taken to a powhiri, where we, and all the artists who've come for Womad, are welcomed onto the marae. It's even more moving than in Wellington, particularly because so many of the international artists reply to the Maori speeches with their own words and songs. Especially, I love what one young black American performer says. His people lost their past in the time of slavery, and could not use their language or sing their songs. Meeting the Maori, and being welcomed to the marae, he felt for the first time in his life that he had a real connection to an ancestry. That he was in a sense, at home.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Today, with CNZ's other international guests, I was welcomed onto the marae at Victoria University. This welcoming ceremony, or powhiri, was familiar to me from the Opening Ceremony at Origins - but no less moving for that. Indeed, to be welcomed into a magnificent Maori house on the land itself with some knowledge of the protocols made it doubly moving.
After the ceremony, we were given lunch (a crucial part of the welcome), and then a series of talks about the meaning of Maori art in relation to its cultural context. Good to see the "buyers" being given a bit of context. If we just export the work without a sense of where its roots are, then it's just exotica. My old chums Hone Kouka and Miria George are there, and Hone talks about Maori theatre. I also get to meet Moss Patterson from Atamira, whose work I'll finally see in the flesh tomorrow, and the legendary Richard Nunns, who has almost single-handedly rediscovered the traditions of Maori music. Te Papa has some of his instruments on display, as well as an incredible sound installation to accompany its exhibition of green-stone carving. Today Richard performed a piece for traditional Maori instruments and string quartet. The NZ Quartet played music which was influenced by the sound of whales - while Richard played a series of instruments carved from whale-bone. In the marae, this was an incredible experience.
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Creative New Zealand have booked me in to see lots of home-grown work. The most extraordinary so far is a play called Apollo 13: Mission Control, in which the audience sit at the ranks of 70s computer desks remembered from the lunar era, and participate in a cleverly constructed comic recreation of the crisis. It's all engineered so that the audience are actually just vehicles to relay information - but it's managed in such a way that it all feels very spontaneous. At one point, the phone on my desk went.
Voice: This is President Nixon. Can I speak with Gene Kranz, please?
Gene Kranz actor: Who is it?
Me: It's the President.
Gene: I'm not here....
Me: Sorry - he's just popped out....
Voice: I'm the President of the United States, and I demand to speak with him!
Me: It's President Nixon on the phone!
(Gene writes "Hang up" on the blackboard. I hang up. Laughter all around)
You get the idea.
I also saw a solo show with music called Ship Songs, with an actor called Ian Hughes telling the story of how his parents met (amongst other things). It sounds sentimental, but it wasn't. This afternoon I was at a concert by the NZ Trio. Alongside some extraordinary premieres of Piano Trios with video enhancement (close-ups of golf balls being rolled across the piano strings), they played Beethoven's Trio "The Ghost", which we use in Re-Orientations. Except they only played the first movement - which isn't very ghostly at all. We use the second.
It's actually been an eventful couple of days on the Trilogy project too, even though I'm out here. Funding confirmed from the Commonwealth Foundation and from the Swedish Consulate in China. Very festive....
Thursday, March 04, 2010
I'm typing this at the Te Papa Museum, where I've just met up with the Maori Director Arapata Hakiwai. He's very excited about Origins, and we talk about ways of collaborating in the future. This museum is built on Maori ideas - there's a marae, which is used very frequently, with ceremony being integrated into the use of the building. Some of the artists I already know, like Lisa, have their own contemporary readings of traditional architecture built into the fabric of the space. It even has holy stones buried in its foundations, and is lined up to the sea in an appropriate way for welcoming guests and the dawn ceremony of Matariki. Arapata tells me he's been in Chicago recently, advising on the placing of a marae in the museum there, and that this space is now being used for tribal councils by Native American groups!