Tuesday, August 30, 2016

WORD Christchurch Festival bigger and brighter than ever

Sarah Thornton reports:

The biennial WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival returned to the centre of Christchurch at the weekend (August 24-28), and increased attendance by at least 25 percent compared to previous years. It also captivated audiences and breathed life back into the CBD.

Connecting the local community with a feast of home-grown and international talent, WORD attracted some 150 local and international writers, who took part in more than 80 events across the central city. Newly minted auditorium The Piano was the focal venue and proved itself to be a valuable addition to Christchurch’s future performing arts precinct.

Featuring fiction, poetry, storytelling, free children’s events, comedy, live music, debates, discussions, performances and fringe events, WORD Christchurch embodied the theme of 'the planet and its people,’ and delivered.

 The jewel in the Isaac Theatre Royal’s crown was the Gala Night event ‘The Stars are on Fire’, which saw seven of WORD’s star performers – Sir Tipene O’Regan, Steve Hely, Tusiata Avia, Caitlin Doughty, Stephen Daisley, Tiny Ruins and Ivan E. Coyote – take to the boards and dazzle the crowd.

The environment, gender issues, politics and sex proved incredibly popular events with audiences, who flocked to sessions where these issues were foremost, including: The State of America; Ask A Mortician: Caitlin Doughty; 2050 (what the planet and its people will like like in that year); and The Great New Zealand Crime Debate & Ngaio Marsh Award, at the conclusion of which, bestselling Christchurch author Paul Cleave won the 2016 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. Hear My Voice saw what many described as the most electric energy they’d ever experienced in a room of spoken word performance, and Flying Nun musicians appeared alongside label founder Roger Shepherd to a sell-out crowd.

Audiences couldn’t get enough of sell-out Canadian storyteller Ivan E. Coyote who provoked tears, laughter and a standing ovation; LA-based mortician, author and You Tube star Caitlin Doughty; television comedy writer (30 Rock, The Office. American Dad) Steve Hely; Canadian novelist Elizabeth Hay; ITV science correspondent Alok Jha; Afghan-American physician and novelist Nadia Hashimi; author and human rights advocate Tara Moss, and local writer and resilience expert Lucy Hone, all of whom took part in a variety of panel and individual events throughout the four days.

WORD Christchurch literary director, Rachael King, says “WORD 2016 has exceeded our expectations. Putting together a programme which at times pushed boundaries was not without risk, so I’m delighted to see that it paid off. Bringing such a stunning array of talent to the people of Christchurch was always my main objective, and judging by the feedback I’ve had from audiences, mission accomplished.”

WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival warmly thanks its major funders Creative New Zealand, Christchurch City Council, the Rata Foundation and The Press; festival and session sponsors Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, PwC, Boffa Miskell, Duncan Cotterill, Environment Canterbury, The Royal Society of New Zealand, Kate Sylvester, Ballantynes, Antarctica New Zealand, UC Science and Harcourts Gold; our festival patrons and supporters, partners and supporting publishers. 


No comments: