Te Puna Toi (2001 - 2016)
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Te Puna Toi 2015 followed in the wake of Te Matatini in March. While Te Puna Toi was a standalone event, the interest generated by Te Matatini helped provide an eager and interested audience for new work that engages with indigenous performance practice and identity. Cornerstone to the event was the revival of the 2001 bicultural opera Footprints/Tapuwae which saw Free Theatre collaborate with Taiporoutu Huata and kapa haka performers from Te Ahikōmau a Hamoterangi and Te Pao a Tahu, both of whom recently represented the Waitaha (greater Canterbury) region at Te Matatini 2015. Taiporoutu Huata served as resident artist and was also one of the speakers at the symposium during the event and led workshops that shared our experience working between opera and kapa haka.
The Earthquake in Chile was a collaboration with Canterbury Fellow Professor Richard Gough, the director of the Centre for Performance Research (CPR) in Aberystwyth Wales and the founding President of the influential Performance Studies International.
Gough was in New Zealand to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Te Puna Toi which has enjoyed a partnership with CPR over these past ten years, sharing with the Aberystwyth-based project, a view that the margins are a fertile ground to create new and innovative performance work. It is fitting that Gough was in New Zealand for the celebrations and to add his own special ingredients to the performance. Gough himself is well known as a director and performer, his performances relating to food and the communal rituals around eating being performed in Europe, North America and Asia.
Te Puna Toi hosted Lech Majewski as a Canterbury Fellow. Majewski is an artist, filmmaker, poet, and stage director; born in Katowice, Poland; graduated from the Lódz Film School in 1977; has lived in the United States since 1981.
In 2006, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City hosted a complete (until then) retrospective of Lech Majewski’s film work. This was their first-ever full retrospective of a Polish filmmaker, and one of their only ever mid-career retrospectives. In 2007, he exhibited his video art installation Blood of a Poet at the Venice Biennale, Berlinale, Art Institute of Chicago, MoMA (New York), and many more. In 2008, he directed two operas in New York. In 2009 he shot a feature film in Poland (starring Charlotte Rampling) inspired by the Bruegel painting The Way to Calvary. This hugely prolific artist was an excellent candidate to visit the newly-formed Centre for Fine Arts, Music and Theatre and during his stay, he contributed to courses in Theatre and Film Studies, Fine Arts, and Music, as well as give public seminars and lectures. A season of his films toured film societies around the country, and he made brief appearances in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Nelson.
The New Zealand Film Archive installs MediaNet in Te Puna Toi.
Te Puna Toi presented a Martial Dance Theatre Symposium. Organised by Theatre and Film Studies PhD student Mark Hamilton, the Symposium brought Auckland-based Maori dance troupe Torotoro together Samudra, a dance company from Kerala (South India). During their three weeks in residence the companies led workshops, joined in talks and offered public performances – culminating in a major event in the Christchurch Town Hall featuring Maori performance artist, Mika. The Symposium created an extraordinary conversation between the dancers, interested academics, and diverse practitioners from martial arts, including members of Capoeira Aotearoa (Christchurch).
Also in 2008, Fritsch Fest presented work by well-known German playwright and filmmaker Werner Fritsch. Instigated after the success of the Achternbusch in the Antipodes, this event included talks by the playwright and the presentation of three of his performances by the Free Theatre: Faust Chroma, Enigma Emmy Goering and Nico Sphinx of Ice. Faust Chroma was toured to Dunedin where it won wave reviews and the award for Best Theatre at the Dunedin Fringe Festival.
It was presented as part of the Platform Arts Festival in the Middle of the year. Faust Chroma had a high profile tour to Wellington and Palmerston North in February 2009. Enigma Emmy Goering and Nico Sphinx of Ice were toured to Dunedin and presented as part of the Australasian Drama and Performance Studies Conference at the University of Otago. Nico Sphinx of Ice was reworked with music, poems and recollections from erstwhile Nico collaborator Ian Loughran in late 2008.
Te Puna Toi hosted visiting artist/scholar Manfred Waffender, Professor for Dramatic Composition in Media at the Robert Schumann University of Music in Düsseldorf and Managing Director of the Institute for Music and Media as well as a prolific filmmaker. He used his time in New Zealand to work on an audiovisual installation "Places in Time", which were presented in Germany in 2008 (see poster below), and gave a series of workshops and lectures to UC staff and students.
Achternbusch in the Antipodes – a retrospective of work by the Bavarian painter, writer, playwright, filmmaker and actor Herbert Achternbusch. This included the performance of three of Achternbusch’s monologues presented by the Free Theatre at Old Queen’s Theatre: Ella, Susn and My Epitaph. A number of Achternbusch’s films were shown as part of seminars presented by alongside other influential German filmmakers as part of seminars presented on by Professor Jörg Drews, University of Bielefeld. These seminars contextualised Achternbusch’s works by showing a number of films by influential German filmmakers whose work is not well known in New Zealand. Ella and Susn were performed in Wellington in 2004 as part of the Australasian Drama and Performance Studies Conference After receiving an invitation from the Dunedin Fringe Festival and a travel grant from Creative New Zealand, Ella and Susn were restaged in Dunedin in 2009 and won the award for Best Theatre. Following invitations from the North Island, a tour is currently being planned for early 2010.
The Te Puna Toi office and VACCESS facility in the Old Library opened its doors to the public in the Christchurch Arts Centre.
Footprints/Tapuwae…Return of the Native, a bicultural conference which featured performances and talks by over sixty-five artists and scholars from throughout New Zealand. As part of Footprints/Tapuwae, the Department hosted the first NZVCC tri-annual conference in Theatre Studies, with the outcome that representatives from the other universities agreed that Te Puna Toi will provide them with a site for informal meetings on an annual basis as well as the impetus to continue meeting formally every three years.
In addition to Footprints/Tapuwae, Te Puna Toi sponsored a number of other events in 2001, including: Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture, a talk by Professor Henry Jenkins, Director of Comparative Media at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; workshops and performances by Cristina Castrillo; physical theatre workshops and performances by Tom Roper; film screenings and a talk by Maori film maker, Barry Barclay; and the Blick nach Osten/A Look to the East, a film festival co-sponsored by the Goethe Institut.
Canterbury Tales was proposed as a performative exploration of the city. It took the opportunity during this extraordinary time in Christchurch’s history, to consider notions of place in city-making, and how it is that the community might feed into the process of the city-becoming. The extraordinary success of Luxcity for FESTA in 2012 illustrated the desire of the Christchurch community to re-engage with their place, many coming back into the city for the first time since the February 22 earthquake. Read more...
Werner Fritsch was Te Puna Toi's 2012 Artist in Residence in Christchurch during the development of this work and for its premiere on February 22nd at The Tannery where he was present for a post-show discussion. This was filmed by filmmaker Shirley Horrocks and used as material for her documentary film premiering 2017. During his stay, Te Puna Toi organized a preview of Fritsch's film Faust Sonnengesang.
In late January, filmmaker and Scholar Steven Eastwood presented a talk at the University Theatre. Eastwood works across the cinema, the gallery and unsanctioned spaces. He talked about his recently completed first feature, Buried Land (2009), filmed on location in Bosnia. Eastwood has lectured widely in the UK and the USA and is currently Programme Leader, Film & Video: Theory and Practice at the University of East London. He has published book chapters, conference papers and articles, and regularly programmes screenings of artists' moving image. He completed his PhD at The Slade, UCL for the theory/practice research project Cinema into the Real (www.cinemaintothereal.com). His talk was well-attended, especially considering the time of the year and he also presented a talk in the Philip Carter Auditorium in the Arts Gallery.
In March 2010 photographer and Theatre Designer Alexandra Wolkowicz visited Te Puna Toi.
The Marvelous Corricks (The Great Hall in the Arts Centre (16 April 2010)
‘The Marvellous Corricks’ was presented by Te Puna Toi with our partners The New Zealand Film Archive and in association with the National Film and Sound Archive Australia (who lent the films from its collection), the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Arts Centre. Free Theatre Christchurch provided performances for the event.
The event centred around silent films collected by The Marvellous Corricks, a Christchurch family who toured Australia, India and the UK with their popular vaudeville show. The Corricks’ show included the presentation of films they had collected from Europe. These films represent some of the earliest examples of cinema – including films from Pathe and Gaumont and the first ever animated British film – and as such offer an intriguing insight into the experimentation taking place in cinema’s early days before conventional narrative cinema became dominant.
In keeping with Te Puna Toi’s commitment to performance research, this event went beyond a nostalgic showing of quaint, old films to invoke a taste of the original vaudeville shows by presenting the films as a performance in collaboration with Free Theatre Christchurch and involving many Theatre & Film Studies staff and students. Te Puna Toi Director Peter Falkenberg structured the event to include old music hall songs and narration for the films. It was emceed by Richard Till with musical accompaniment and arrangement from Chris Reddington on piano and Emma Johnston singing. Ryan Reynolds supplied narration for the films. There was also a film produced by Free Theatre Christchurch and slipped into the programme as a surprise for the audience, which offered a taste of the company’s upcoming production Dr Faustus for the 2010 Platform Arts Festival.
Te Puna Toi and partner New Zealand Film Archive contributed two well-attended events to the Christchurch Arts Festival (CAF). The first was a Vaudeville programme celebrating the beginnings of cinema and pre-cinema. Magic lantern showman Barry Hancox demonstrated this Edwardian art with “Painted & Animated Scenes” accompanied by poetic readings and sound effects. This was followed by a selection of short dramas, comedies and special effects films made before 1912. These astonishing images from cinema’s past were accompanied by pianist Gao Ping. Second, celebrity chef Richard Till took the audience on a voyage of discovery using archival footage of the trends that have shaped what we eat today. The programme included film footage from as early as 1927, alongside historical accounts, sound items, and television footage (http://www.artsfestival.co.nz/event-category/telstraclear-club/te-puna-poi).
Te Puna Toi contributed the performances Dick Does Dinner and the Free Theatre’s Fantasia to the Inaugural University of Canterbury Platform Festival. Dick Does Dinner was the irreverent follow-up to TV chef Richard Till’s original theatre performance/dining experience Just Dick It, which explored Kiwi culture through its eating habits. These performances resulted in a popular television show Kiwi Kitchen fronted by fronted by Till for TVNZ. Fantasia was a multi-media work by the Free Theatre, which explored Western fantasies of the Middle East. The performances took place at Old Queen’s Theatre at 120 Hereford St.
Inspired by their experiences during Field Station, New Zealand (2003), Atamira Dance Collective, an Auckland based company, returned to Te Puna Toi for a residency devoted to further research and rehearsal for Ngai Tahu 32. Ngai Tahu 32 has won multiple awards for performances in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Wellington. While here, the dancers worked with Theatre and Film Studies students, gave talks, and developed a deeper foundation for future discussions and collaborations.
Atamira describes the performance as follows: “Ngai Tahu 32 presents one man's journey through time and whakapapa to deliver a wairua from te waiora a Tane (the living waters of Tane) to a new generation. He travels through a series of tukutuku patterns, sometimes described as "the oceans between the carvings". Carrying the coins from the sale of his land, and the wairua of a girl who shines brightly on the horizon, his journey weaves history, whakapapa, creation and imagination”.
Te Puna Toi hosted Field Station, New Zealand: Environment/Performance the ninth annual meeting of Performance Studies International. The conference itself was designed as a performance research experiment, inspired by the University of Canterbury’s network of field stations. Field Station, New Zealand recognised the tourist experience both as a key component of performance research and as one of the primary attractions for overseas artists and academics. Accordingly, tourist destinations, landscapes and cultural practices were treated as field stations: series of sites and topics designed to bring together scholars and artists, international and local, Maori and non-Maori, from performance studies and other disciplines.