07 Sep 2017
From the powerfully provocative to the light-hearted, New Zealand shows and artists were a formidable presence at the Edinburgh festivals last month, receiving strong reviews and winning the hearts of festival goers.
Supported by Creative New Zealand, NZ at Edinburgh 2017 saw the return of a coordinated season of New Zealand artists across the various Edinburgh festivals. Coinciding with the festivals’ 70th anniversary the season offered a bold and innovative selection of theatre, music, comedy, literature and visual arts at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh Art Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Europe Correspondent for TV3’s Newshub, Tova O’Brien, covered NZ at Edinburgh 2017 from the festival city. In this online piece she talks to the ‘Kiwis killing it at Edinburgh Festival Fringe’. TV3’s The Project followed a few Kiwi acts at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Stephen Jewell from the NZ Herald summed up some of the season in his piece Kiwis take Edinburgh Fringe by storm.
Highlights and reviews
Edinburgh Art Festival
As the first ever New Zealand co-commission with the Edinburgh Art Festival, Shannon Te Ao’s multimedia installation With the sun aglow, I have my pensive moods, 2017 explores the physical and emotional depths of love, grief, sickness and healing. It received positive reviews from international media. The Art Newspaper said the work was “a highlight of the festival commissions”; the The Guardian said it was “a mysterious piece that lingers in the mind with its doleful vision and strangely Whitmanesque lyrics”; and international visual arts magazine Frieze described it as “achingly beautiful” in their critic's guide to Edinburgh. The List and Coffee Table Notes gave it 4 Star reviews.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Two shows Julia Croft & Nisha Madhan's Power Ballad and Binge Culture's Break Up (We Need To Talk) were nominated for the highly prestigious Total Theatre Award and Binge Culture’s Whales was shortlisted for the Fringe Sustainable Practice Award 2017
Lydia Zanetti of Zanetti Productions said, “To be recognised for the work that we are doing on an international stage was genuinely humbling and heartening. It's an honour to know the work we do stands up at the biggest arts festival in the world.”
The Guardian listed Binge Culture’s Break Up (We Need to Talk), Eleanor Bishop/Karin McCracken’s Jane Doe and Trick of the Light Theatre’s The Road That Wasn’t There as ‘shows to see’ at the Fringe.
Eleanor Bishop and Karin McCracken’s Jane Doe received a 5 Star review from Broadway Baby and a 4 Star review from The Scotsman. Lyn Gardner from The Guardian said “It understands the value of using technology as a safe space so that those watching difficult material can respond immediately, anonymously and safely.”
The last offering from Binge Culture Break Up (We need to talk) received a 4 Star review from The Scotsman which also also named it one of the most bizarre shows at the Fringe: “With a level of skill deliberately undermined by the heightened (banana) costumes, the cast’s incredible focus provides an unusually insightful analysis of how difficult it is to get the balance right between partners, family, friends and personal space.”
Trick of the Light Theatre’s The Road that Wasn’t There received 5 Star reviews from British Theatre Guide and Three Weeks Edinburgh, with 4 Star reviews from The List, Edinburgh Festival Magazine, Broadway Baby and Lexical Lunacy. The Fringe Review listed it as a ‘highly recommended show’.
The Modern Māori Quartet: That’s Us received a 5 Star review from The Wee Review, 4.5 Star review from Young Perspective, as well as 4 Star reviews from Three Weeks Edinburgh and Edinburgh Reporter. The self-termed ‘All Blacks meets the Jersey Boys’ also appeared on BBC Radio Scotland’s Janice Forsyth Show.
Barnie Duncan’s Juan Vesuvius: I Am Your Deejay received a 5 Star review from Broadway Baby (“If you’re a fan of comedy, music or history then this show has all three so you can’t lose”) and 4 Stars from The List, also naming it as one of the ‘best late night shows at the Fringe’. The Edinburgh Reporter called Vesuvius “an eruption that cannot be plugged.”
Julia Croft’s Power Ballad received a 5 Star review from The List, stating “Many shows lay claim to gender fluidity, but this is the real deal: othering, teasing, provoking. The tone moves between hysteria and terror, joy and despair”. It received 4 Star reviews from The Herald Scotland, The Stage, Three Weeks Edinburgh.
Also presenting at the Edinburgh Fringe this year were seasoned performers including Trgyve Wakenshaw with two shows Trygve versus A Baby and Different Party co-starring Barnie Duncan; Rose Matafeo with Sassy Best Friend; James Nokise who was awarded 5 stars from The Scotsman for his show Britain, Let’s Talk About the Golliwogs and returning veteran Tape Face.
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Hera Lindsay Bird, Courtney Sina Meredith, Sarah Laing and Rachael King all had sold out events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Hera Lindsay Bird featured on The Guardian’s book festival podcast. The Guardian also called out Courtney Sina Meredith as a future Man Booker Prize contender.
Momentum and Co-Lab
In conjunction with NZ at Edinburgh 2017, Creative New Zealand and British Council New Zealand also supported 11 New Zealand arts practitioners to engage in two bespoke development programmes aimed to increase international experience and build relationships for future presentations and collaborations.
Eight practitioners participated in the festivals’ annual international delegate programme Momentum, which focuses on building relationships with Scottish, UK and international artists, presenters, producers, publishers, curators and cultural partners. Three New Zealand performers – Julia Croft, Nisha Madhan and Jason Wright – joined those from Scotland and Hong Kong on a new programme, International Co-lab, to look at creating new work which, one day, might be performed in each of their home countries.
About NZ at Edinburgh 2017
NZ at Edinburgh 2017 sees the return of a New Zealand season across the various Edinburgh festivals this August, after an ambitious and successful presentation in 2014.
In 2017, Creative New Zealand focused on featuring small-to-medium performing arts shows, with a track record of successful touring, to be part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Presentations at the Edinburgh Art Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival were also supported. Performances and presentations were seen at a range of venues with the aim of generating invitations for onward touring opportunities and increasing the international capability and success of New Zealand artists and arts organisations.
Creative New Zealand assisted companies and artists with flights, freight and specific installation costs through its International Presentation Fund. Independent of this, 10 New Zealand artists supported themselves to present work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Creative New Zealand is grateful for the support of our partners. The NZ at Edinburgh 2017 season would not be possible without the generous support of participating festivals, agencies, venues, organisations and the artists themselves.
Special thanks the Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe venues, in particular Assembly, Summerhall and Gilded Balloon for their ongoing support of New Zealand artists.
Thank you also to British Council, Creative Scotland and Festivals Edinburgh.
We would like to acknowledge the work of our partners, Te Tuhi and curator Bruce Phillips, and WORD Christchurch and Programme Director Rachael King.
- NZ at Edinburgh 2017 season
- Shannon Te Ao’s exhibition at Edinburgh Art Festival
- Dynamic New Zealand writers at Edinburgh International Book Festival
- Tri-Nation Co-lab takes place in the world’s leading festival city
Media enquiries to:
Senior Communications & Advocacy Adviser
Creative New Zealand
M: 027 838 8868 | DDI: (04) 498 0727