Capital E National Arts Festival
While the urbanites of the ‘ista are all currently abuzz about the Fringe Festival, those amongst us who are parents (yes, we exist) are more excited about the Capital E National Arts Festival set to happen from March 11-23.

During the weeks, the Festival runs an education programme, so expect to see bus loads of school children in town going from show to show (Capital E are also fundraising to make sure that low decile schools can come along too – maybe that’s something you want to contribute to?). On the weekends though, the shows are open to the public, and they look pretty fantastic. I got my hands on one of the gorgeously designed programmes and also did a little googling, and now I can tell you about all of the shows! Buckle up, cos this will be a long post.

Sky Dancer is described as a symphonic work composed especially for children by Gareth Farr, inspired by the Witi Ihimaera novel. It promises the full 96 piece New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on stage, and I’m told it aspires to be the NZ equivalent of Peter & The Wolf in terms of being a great way to introduce children to classical music. I’m taking my kids along, and will be getting them to write the review, so look out for that soon. It’s a world premiere, so I can’t tell you what others thought of it.

The Magic Chicken has been very well received, and features Arthur Meek, who you might remember as Helen Clark’s lover. Handily, there’s a video!

The Man Who Planted Trees is based on a French book, so handily, we can quote from Wikipedia here.

The Man Who Planted Trees (French title L’homme qui plantait des arbres), also known as The Story of Elzéard Bouffier, The Most Extraordinary Character I Ever Met, and The Man Who Planted Hope and Reaped Happiness, is an allegorical tale by French author Jean Giono, published in 1953.

It’s got a bit of an environmental theme, featuring a mix of puppets and storytellers, and has come all the way from Scotland.  Here’s a video from their performance at the New Vic.

Down Beneath Below is another new work by Java Dance. This dance piece was created in response to Our Far South project from the Morgan Foundation (which is what Gareth Morgan’s foundation does when it’s not busy hating on cats). You’ll see penguins, albatrosses and seals all frolicking gleefully. I’m warned though that adults who see this may feel like they have no flexibility at all because the dancers are very bendy.

Like It Or Loop It is from the very busy Adam Page. He’s been traveling out to various schools to gather sound loops from every day activities from brushing your teeth to dribbling a basketball, which he’ll combine on stage to show there’s music in everything.

You’ll have seen a shot from The Man The Seasaw all over town because it’s what they’re using for the Festival publicity, but really you need to see this video. Be prepared to laugh and cry.

Te Rau o te Rangi  is particularly relevant to a Wellington audience, because it tells the story of Kahe Te Rau o te Rangi, who swam from Kapiti Island to the mainland with a baby strapped to her back to warn of an impending attack. This piece by Taki Rua  is being performed at the marae in Te Papa, and very awesomely, is free. What a great chance to learn more about local history and also about the marae.

Duck, Death and the Tulip might actually break your heart. But in a good way? It’s based on the internationally celebrated book by Wolf Erlbuch, which Kim Hill calls her favourite book of all time (and which you can buy at Unity Books). This book has been called controversial by some, because it does involve death (in fact, not just death, but also Death, the Grim Reaper), so if you’re worried about your kids seeing it, maybe have a read of the story first. Some people have found it a really useful way to talk about death with children, so your mileage may vary.

Finally, Kaput and its clumsy star Tom Flanagan shouldn’t be controversial at all, so long as you’re keen on some Chaplin-esque acrobatics. Here’s a taster:

Oh, and a final suggestion- you can book all tickets through Capital E directly (either online, at their pop-up box office in the City Gallery Wellington) or by calling them on 913 3740, and that way you can avoid the Ticketek fees.