The 2020 Auckland Arts Festival (AAF) programme has been announced.
The annual multi-arts celebration returns to locations across Tāmaki Makaurau in March. Auckland’s many theatres, galleries, and unique venues will house some of the most exciting performance, art and music events from New Zealand and around the world.
The vast programme of more than 40 individual events celebrates people and culture, investigates some of the most important issues facing the world today and offers audiences a chance to escape with a few laughs. Shows and events tackle the big questions around climate change, who gets to control the narrative and be intellectually provocative, before filling us up with pure joy.
AAF Artistic Director Jonathan Bielski: “We enter the 2020 Auckland Arts Festival both reflecting and celebrating. We are reflecting on the complexities of the human condition, the challenges to our environment but also celebrating all that is great about summer in Auckland. Festivals give us permission to explore big ideas and then engage in sheer exuberance!
Our 12th festival contrasts the tough stuff with escapism and elation, laughter and excitement. Reminding us of the joyfulness of human life in gleeful celebration of all that is fun and good in the world.
The AAF 2020 programme features theatre, dance, circus, cabaret, opera, music and visual arts. And Auckland Arts Festival returns to Auckland Domain for the first time in three years, with a large scale event bringing magic to the city skies. Aerial spectacular Place des Anges by French company Gratte Ciel will be the outdoor event of the summer – an evening of pure unadulterated joy under a sky filled with angels, acrobatics and dreamlike images.
Bielski says it will be an event like no other. “We are thrilled to take people back to Auckland Domain for what I promise will be the most joyous experience of people’s lives – a riot of fun and feathers as the angels descend above our heads and soar through the night sky. Auckland will never forget it.”
Last year Auckland Arts Festival introduced the Toitū Te Reo programme strand as a commitment to the celebration and normalisation of te reo Māori. Toitū Te Reo continues in 2020 with te reo Māori being heard, seen and felt every day of the festival. Included in the Toitū Te Reo programme in 2020 is the free opening night concert Tira in Aotea Square. Hollie Smith, Hātea Kapa Haka and choirs from around Auckland will lead the crowd in a special concert featuring Smith’s massive hit ‘Bathe In The River’, and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ sung in te reo Māori. The Toitū Te Reo programme also features the world premiere of creative collaboration, Ka Pō, Ka Waiata – Songs of Darkness created by artists Warren Maxwell, Teina Moetara, Tama Waipara, Whirimako Black, Horomona Horo and Waimihi Hotere and combining live performance and soundscapes.
The AAF 2020 theatre programme is truly world-class, with a line-up featuring living legend Barry McGovern – the world’s foremost Samuel Beckett expert – bringing his globally acclaimed performance Barry McGovern in Watt by Samuel Beckett to New Zealand for the first time, and Traverse Theatre Company’s sensation Mouthpiece coming to Auckland following its award-winning season at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And then there’s Trans-Tasman comedy Black Ties. Commissioned through Australian and New Zealand arts festivals and organisations, powerhouse theatre groups, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and Te Rēhia Theatre Company join forces for a big brown wedding you will never forget!
When it comes to music, this festival line up packs a punch with 20-time Grammy Award-winner Pat Metheny and band, edgy punk icon Amanda Palmer, Kiwi alt-scene ‘it’ girl Aldous Harding and leading choral ensemble Los Angeles Master Chorale performing renaissance masterpiece Lagrime di San Pietro, directed by internationally acclaimed opera director Peter Sellars. For lovers of contemporary music, Aotearoa’s very own Empress of Electric Blue Witch-Hop Estère will bring her exciting new live performance concept to the festival. And six years after releasing their cult-classic album '@Peace and the Plutonian Noise Symphony’, @Peace reunites for a special one-off show of the album.
The festival shines a spotlight on dance: Black Grace celebrates its 25th anniversary with a 10-venue tour of Verses; plus there’s the already announced, the decadent pick of the festival, Ballet Preljocaj’s Snow White masterminded by acclaimed French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj with costumes by iconic fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. From the grand to the intimate, Biladurang is a uniquely immersive and intimate encounter with proud Wiradjuri dancer and performer Joel Bray, set in a hotel room in Auckland.
Back by popular demand, the Spiegeltent returns to Aotea Square with sexy circus cabaret Limbo Unhinged performing for the duration of the festival. Catering to every kind of thrill-seeker, it will unleash pyrotechnics, sword swallowing and vampy aerial shenanigans with a pulsating live band.
Auckland Arts Festival is leading the way in making events accessible to all audiences with its award-winning Access and Inclusion Programme, and the ongoing commitment to the Creative Learning programme to offer opportunities for schools and students to engage with the arts from an early age.
Auckland Arts Festival chief executive David Inns says this year has seen further expansion of the Access and Inclusion, and Creative Learning programmes. “We want to ensure all Aucklanders can be captivated by the arts and reduce barriers to access. We work closely with the Deaf and hard of hearing and blind/low vision communities to best structure a programme to meet their needs. In recent years we have also included relaxed performances of selected shows to cater for those with sensory issues.
We believe Auckland Arts Festival is a world leader in reaching all of those in our community.
Rounding out the programme for AAF 2020 is the visual arts programme with nine exhibitions by New Zealand and international artists.
Download a copy of the full AAF 2020 programme here.