Celebrating Matariki with the best of Maori theatre and dance, the inaugural Ahi Kaa Festival officially opens tonight. In a city where some theatre practitioners think it’s okay to use blackface on stage because ‘it’s what the audience of the theatre form would have expected’ it is welcome. This festival will show off truly innovative work that draws on tradition to create something new.

The festival is on from 9 June – 11 July 2015.  Shows range from in development, to new works, to return seasons of classics, to family friendly shows.

Bats Theatre hosts Not in our Neighbourhood by Jamie McCaskill, and 2080 by Aroha White.

Te Marae at Te Papa Tongarewa hosts Ngā Pou Wahine by Briar Grace-Smith.

The Hannah Playhouse hosts Double Derelicts, presented by the White Face Crew (excellent physical theatre for the family), and The Modern Māori Quartet. (Here’s the quartet singing on TV.) There is a ticket deal to both shows, and a special student deal as well.

Circa Theatre hosts The Beautiful Ones by Hone Kouka.  (I am super excited about this one. The development season combined visuals, live music, and dance, in a story with epic overtones.)

Happy Matariki!