The 2019 Christchurch Arts Festival opened with A Winter's Tale & Pōwhiri (26-27 July) – a free public event over two nights that saw Oxford Terrace and Ōtākaro, the Avon River transformed into a carnival of street-party revelry – featuring light, sound, music and performance.
The opening pōwhiri (welcoming ceremony), featured Matapopore’s very own Aroha Reriti-Crofts – followed by kapa haka group Te Pao a Tahu, who explored traditional Ngāi Tahu narratives through song.
Then from 6pm on both nights, Oxford Terrace was transformed as lively Shakespearean scenes were presented by giant puppets, against a backdrop of colour, movement and skyscraping video projections. Along the riverside, roaming amongst the audience and from the balconies of the bars and restaurants lining The Terrace, masked NASDA actors from ARA Institute, Christchurch Circus Centre performers and over-sized puppets operated by performers from Circotica parodied scenes from the classic Shakespearean films being projected onto the former Rydges Hotel.
The event was book-ended by two stages, one near the Bridge of Rememberance and the other by the new Riverside complex which pulsed with the sounds of six diverse local performers and bands:
6.00pm the velveteen voice of multi-instrumentalist Mark Vanilau
6.30pm the gothic psychedelia of post-punk veterans Dark Matter
7.00pm the Elizabethan charm of the UC School of Music led by Mark Menzies
7.30pm the indie, classic rock of Adam Hattaway and the Haunters
8.00pm the power pop of rising Rangiora 4-piece, Best Bets
8.30pm the gypsy and Balkan rhythms of Yurt Party
Reviews and Interviews:
'Saturday Morning with Kim Hill' (RNZ) interview, 20 July 2019, Peter Falkenberg - 40 years of the Christchurch Free Theatre, 2019.
Charlie Gates, The Press, 26 July 19, Immersive Swirl of Shakespeare smoke and light opens the Christchurch Arts Festival
Erin Harrington, Theatreview, 27 July 19, A Warm and Worthy Start to a festival that hopes to light up the Winter
Audience and collaborator response:
"Kia ora. We saw a lot of your performances on Friday night and were so impressed. My ten year old was fully enraptured and wanted to know all about Richard III, and now wants to do a project about Shakespeare.🤘 Bravo to you all!" – nzkebabette (Facebook)
"Really enjoyed the atmosphere last night!" - Louisa Sullivan
"U guys were amaizng!!!" - Sante Beasant
“I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye or thank you for the work you did with us and the opportunity to be involved with such a cool event! So I wanted to text and pass on my thanks! I am very grateful for the experience and I hope to work with you again one day J” – EJ (Nasda actor)
“I just wanted to pass on my thanks on behalf of my group and myself for all the work put into this, we thoroughly enjoyed both nights and the experience we got out of it, myself included I thought it was such a cool thing to do. And pass on our thanks to Peter too for the work he put into coming in and giving up both of your time for us, we’re very appreciative” Kyle (Nasda actor)