Whakanuia: 5 Things Worth Celebrating at the 2018 Auckand Writers Festival
With such a chocka programme, we picked our top Auckland Writers Festival events worth celebrating, spanning “millennial intelligentsia”, neuroscience and tricky conversations!
If you’re anything like us, then the anticipation of a new festival programme is usually met with excitement, quickly followed by being so overwhelmed you close the programme and watch the festival pass by on Twitter. This year, our editorial team have gathered together to bring you Whakanuia: the Auckand Writers Festival (AWF) edition, with five things we think are worth celebrating.
Of course, we think we should celebrate theatre all year round, but we are especially excited by the inclusion of some great theatre-related events in this year’s programme.
One must-see event is Portrait of an Artist Mongrel: Rowley Habib, which comprises music, readings and performances that celebrate the legacy of Rowley Habib (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Lebanese) a groundbreaking playwright, screenwriter and poet. After seeing it at last year’s Kia Mau Festival, our Theatre Editor Adam Goodall exclaimed “it's the perfect introduction to Rowley’s work, one of the most compelling and insightful voices in New Zealand drama.”
Our second theatre pick is Emma Hall’s wildly successful We May Have To Choose which is returning to Auckland for the second time. Theatre Editor Kate Prior described it’s Auckland Fringe showing as “an impeccably honed, sharply compelling hour-long stream of pithy personal certainty.”
And for those of us who are more inclined to writing, what more could you want than to pick the brain of playwright Victor Rodger? In his workshop Four Play Tools, Rodger offers "a tour of the four basic tools for telling compelling stories: strong characters, believable dialogue, engaging conflict, and goals and obstacles which protagonists must face.”
The Creative Brain
Creativity remaking the world? We are there! The Creative Brain marks the occasion of David Eagleman’s latest book (co-authored with composer Anthony Brandt), The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes The World. The pair weave science and art to explore human inventiveness. This “one-off lecture and tour of human creativity” has our pick.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
African writer and human rights champion Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and writer of Decolonising the Mind is coming to AWF and we’re excited. For wa Thiong’o’s main event, Wrestling with the Devil, he'll discuss his latest memoir (Wrestling with the Devil) with Kubé Jones-Neill.
We also want to highlight Out of Empire, a panel discussion where wa Thiong’o will be joined by Michael Belgrave, Alexandra Tidswell and Sharlene Teo who will share readings that interrogate “Mother England’s influence, for good and ill”.
Legacies of Loss brings together NZ writer, teacher and Families Commission CEO Jan Pryor and Australian writer Jesse Blackadder to explore lives interrupted, the keenness of loss, and the resilience of family. This year’s Michael King Lecture looks at the hard truths presented in Damon Salesa’s book Island Time which argues that “while NZ has passively allowed a tacit segregation to take hold between Pakeha and Pasifika, the future of this country is Pacific, whether we are ready or not.”
While we’re not entirely convinced of the phrase “millennial intelligentsia”, used in the AWF programme, we are convinced by what it stands for and two authors coming to the festival which sit in that bubble: Durga Chew-Bose and Jenny Zhang.
Durga Chew-Bose, author of Too Much and Not the Mood, speaks with Ella Yelich-O’Connor (or Lorde) about her self-referential essays which “offer insights into art, literature, pop-culture, and what it means to be a Bengali-Canadian”. Fellow member of the “millennial intelligentsia” is author of short-story collection Sour Heart, which “interrogates the immigrant experience in eight linked stories told from the perspective of a first-generation, Chinese-American girl living in New York”. Jenny Zhang joins our own Rosabel Tan in conversation.
This is only a slither of the offerings from the Auckland Writers Festival. For the full programme check out their website.