Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Call me CAFFER

why ??? may ask

cos for the last month that was me, contracted festival worker to the Christchurch Arts Festival. A month long celebration of all things arty and festivally in Christchurch...funnily enough

It starts off by claiming the square (central town square) and turning it into a hive of activity and pre excitement leading up to the festival opening proper. Featured attractions were a 'screen saver' projected onto a rather large screen covering the ornate stained glass window of the cathedral situated smack bang in the middle of the square. I coulda done without hanging it, then finding out it was sewn wrong so had to be brought down and sent off to be cut and resewn before rushing it back to be hung again. Only this time my helpers had all fucked off so it was me an me ol mate 'dunners' on the job. To be honest it looked kinda wack anyway.

Another feature was the snow orchids.

Big, scary, triffid looking alien eyes designed by umeric, famous for having directed some primo videos for shapeshifter and salmonella dub and built by warwick bell soon to be famous for building the NZ rugby ball thing going up to coincide with the rugby world cup kicking off next month in paris.

As you can see in the photo there is something with fireworks sticking out of it. That something is the 'fale pod' pronounced 'fa' as in 'far' with a silent 'R' and 'le' as in 'let' with a silent 'T'. It's a samoan word you see. Designed/built by Michel Tuffrey it's basically a screen onto which was projected some images accompanied by some sounds. The fireworks were only for opening night and coincided with a host of other polycentric activities within the square to open the arts festival. Beyond opening night it sorta lost it's flava. I must admit, for a cracker of a town like christchurch it was good to see hear the polynesian family singing/dancing in what is traditionally a whiter than white city.

Nowhere was that more illustrated than by a gay male dancer i befriended being told to 'go home nigga' by the many ballheads we have down here. Kinda sad really that we still got that rep.

Other things in the square were 'the tent' a 'spiegel' type with pasifikan stylings inside which played host to many a musical act and a 'futuro', a 1960's designed UFO type house that failed to replace the boxes we live in. I think I know why...cos round houses have got no corners. Kinda does your head in not having corners to put shit in.

So after setting up all that stuff in the square we rolled onto setting up shows and doing show calls. I was down to help 'danza cuba' but all they had was some congas and a bit of backline. The rest was a host of fiery hot looking dancing cuban brunettes. Just as well they canned me from that gig. Although they did smuggle some cigars in their congas and flicked em off for a fraction of the retail price. A very small fraction that i wouldnt have minded being part of the equation...oh well

Next show was 'circus oz'.

A ragtag bunch of performers with a broad family appeal show based around comedy, music and good ol fashioned circus artistry. I didn't think I would enjoy working with ozzies but they were sum good ones. Hell they even toured the outback doing workshops with abos so you know they weren't like the average ozzy we know and don't love so much.

I was down to tour with them to another couple of places but my skills were needed more in christchurch so when they left, 'aurelia' rolled in.

Aurelia, grandaughter of charlie chaplin, upholding a family tradition of theatre excellence had a show, Oratorio, which because i worked, couldn't see more than fleeting glimpses from the wings in between cues. Damn, it looked cool though and the company were choice folk. From Monica the 8 language speaking production manager to Gerd the stage technical manager, who when I casually asked about snow (it being winter in Churtown) regaled me with stories of friends who had succumbed to it's sense heightening properties far too often. I didn't have the heart to tell him 'nah bro not that sort of snow'. The gay male dancer, Julio, mentioned earlier was the other lead in this show and we kinda hit it off in a very platonic way when within half an hour of setting foot in the theatre, i'd so procured him some primo native bush to chuff away on for the week.

Other highlights were Hollie Smith and Solaa in 'the tent'. Two fine examples of the neo soul funk thing going off currently in NZ. Naturally there was lot more going on to which i was a party to but mostly it was boring stuff like helping rigging lights, PA and exhibitions, the sort of thing which generally operates within arts festivals.

All in all i had a good time. Met some good people, drank some good piss, smoked some good weed and got paid to do it. Come next time Id gladly do it all over again and probably will.

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