Today in New Zealand International Arts Festival history: Ravi Shankar, Mark Twain & Me in Maoriland (2010) and Hohepa (2012)
It was a pleasant surprise to be asked to pop over to Ravi Shankar's sound check on the afternoon of his concert - I don't think I was really expecting to get a chance to photograph him or the show, but I tailed Festival Director Lissa Twomey over to greet him and spent a bit of time with them as he & his daughter Anoushka got things ready for that night. It was amazing to see him, at the age of 90, settle in and just play. Because he could really PLAY. Amazing - wish I'd been able to come back for the show!
I promised the other day we'd see more of Maaka Pohatu, and in fact we already have - in the Maori Troilus & Cressida yesterday - but here, in Mark Twain & Me In Maoriland we've got quite a bit of him, Allan Henry, and the rest of the cast. Another part of the great theatre season in 2010 (the more I think back, the more impressed I am with that year's programme!), this was an interesting show that went in any number of unexpected directions. Allan & Maaka played a particularly hilarious part of that - performances I don't think I can possibly describe sensibly - but that quickly made them two of my favourite performers in town. (They were already two of my favourite people to hang out with at the Festival Club, even before the show opened...)
Last for today is the Jenny McLeod opera, Hohepa, from 2012; an interesting and ambitious production, with some of the best of New Zealand's opera talent as well as some visiting overseas performers. I remember realising at this rehearsal that Rawiri Paratene must be the hardest working man in the Festival - he'd already produced and been in the Maori Troilus & Cressida, and five days later was opening an opera as well! Great guy, and a hard worker, no question...