26 Feb 2016

NZ Festival Guide 2016

1:38 pm on 26 February 2016

Our picks for the NZ Festival.


Miranda July.

Miranda July. Photo: Todd Cole

This year's NZ Festival programme will have you running around the streets of Wellington trying to fit everything in. Now in its 30th year, the multi-arts festival is bringing some of the world's best artists and producers to the capital city. It kicks off tonight with the free event Le Grand Continental in Civic Square and runs for three weeks, with the Writers Week a mid-festival highlight. With so much to see, here are our top picks. 


Miranda July

Miranda July is an artist who is hard to categorise, so it’s better to avoid trying. She has written a novel, screenplays and published a collection of short stories; directed and starred in her own movies; created a messaging app and is also a performance artist. If you don’t know where to begin with her extensive body of work and want a brief glimpse into her brilliant mind, try last year’s interview with Rihanna (and the Uber driver).
The Opera House, 9 March

Mallory Ortberg

Editor of the feminist website The Toast and named as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30, Mallory Ortberg will be bringing her irreverent humour to Writers Week. Expect art history jokes, references to The Simpsons, plenty of sass and hopefully some sage wisdom from the advice columnist. Keep an eye out for our interview with her that will be published in the coming weeks.
Life Online: Jamie Curry and Mallory Ortberg, Embassy Theatre, 10 March
Mallory Ortberg: Texts on Toast, Embassy Theatre, 11 March


D'Angelo. Photo: Greg Harris


Shortly after R&B artist D’Angelo put on an incredible performance at Soulfest in 2014, he released his first album in 14 years. The Black Messiah was released in December, but the album’s universal appeal saw it make a strong appearance on the end-of-year lists. In a few weeks, D’Angelo will be bringing The Black Messiah to the TSB Bank Arena with a full band. We can tell you now that it will be one of the concerts of the year.
TSB Bank Arena, 17 March

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens’ most recent album Carrie & Lowell was inspired by the death of his mother, Carrie. The multi-instrumentalist said writing the album was traumatic, and pulling it all together ran parallel to his grieving process. Critics named it among his best work. His live performances have a reputation for being intense and immersive (in the best possible way), and we’re told that they’re well worth seeing when you get the rare chance to, even if you’re only a casual fan. Just as well he's doing two shows then.
Michael Fowler Centre, 6-7 March

Complexity of Belonging

Complexity of Belonging Photo: Jeff Busby

Complexity of Belonging

Complexity of Belonging explores that looming question we all want the answer to: how and where do I belong? A dance and theatrical performance, the show also incorporates multimedia elements, exploring nationality, sexuality, gender and history. It follows the lives of nine people as they search for connection in our hyper-connected, hyper-sensitive society.
St James Theatre, 11-13 March

Anis Mojgani

Two-time US slam poetry champion Anis Mojgani returns to New Zealand this March, for a run of performances in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. His style is inclusive and affecting, drawing you into his stories with his lilting rhythm. In an interview with RNZ's Mohamed Hassan, Anis said of performing: “It’s an honour and a joy to get to be on stage and invite people onto your ship, and take them to a place where none of y’all know where you're going.”
Anis Mojgani: Slam Poet, Embassy Theatre, 10 March
Anis Mojgani: Slam Rhythms, BATS Theatre, 11 March
Anis Mojgani in Action, St Peter's Village Hall, 13 March

Le Grand Continental

A merry band of 150 amateur dancers between the ages of 10 and 75 will take over Civic Square this evening with their festival-opening performance. Choreographed by Canadian Sylvain Émard, the “mass dance performance” is inspired by line dancing and contemporary dance. After the show, there will be a freestyle dance party for everyone who wants to join in and who may have found themselves regretting not going to the open auditions back in October.
Civic Square, 26 February