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Thu 8 May 2008–Sun 18 May 2008, 8:00am

Where: Lake Taupo, Taupo

Listed by: Sarah Hunter

Feel the earth move at ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival, an action packed programme inspired by the fiery elements of the central North Island volcanic plateau.

ERUPT is the reincarnation of the biennial Lake Taupo Arts Festival, switching this year from a February date to the autumn hue of May, and featuring 11 days of world class comedy, theatre, music, cabaret, film, visual arts, literature, gourmet food and school and community events.

Festival Director, Drew James stepped into the role last year after previously working on WOMAD and NZ International Festival of Arts. Alongside a strong showing of local acts, he has invited artists from Argentina, Spain, UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil and the US to Taupo for ERUPT.

“The fiery passion reflected in the programme is inspired by the active volcanic landscape of the Taupo region as well as Ngati Tuwharetoa stories about the eruption of Mt Ngauruhoe,” says Drew James.

Ticket sales are expected to move quickly given that at a special programme launch in Taupo a total of 15 % of tickets were sold on the night to Festival Friends, Lovers and Sponsors.

Festival Chair Nicola Williams says Taupo is fortunate to have exceedingly generous sponsors “who have enabled us to present a programme of such depth and quality.”

“We’re delighted because people are responding enthusiastically to the programme. ERUPT is our major cultural event for the year, and May with its crisp clear days and brilliant autumn colour is the most spectacular time to visit Taupo.”

ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival Programme at a glance:

On opening weekend in May, the ERUPT rumble begins with THE BIG BANG a free outdoor extravaganza on the shores of Lake Taupo, matching fire and light to the beat of STRIKE Percussion.

Like hot lava flowing through the Festival’s veins, the fiery dance and music offerings include tango from Another Night in Buenos Aires (Argentina/Australia), soulful flamenco from Arta Kanela (Spain/Australia) and the husky tone of songbird Alda Rezenda tracing the roots of Brazilian music.

Auckland based Batacuda Sound Machine take samba on a funk and hip hop jam, Wellington’s rising stars, Legacy Dance Crew bring the kamikaze energy of urban Pacific hip hop and street dance to the theatre and STRIKE harness the power of water, fire, earth and air to present the world premier of their new show, ELEMENTAL.

Moana and The Tribe celebrate the launch of new album Wha with a multi-media showcase, beguiling flautist Alexa Still takes time out from international commitments to perform at ERUPT, Helen Medlyn & Penny Dodd hop genres in their witty show Hell, Man, and musician Richard Gilewitz (US) introduces us to fingerstyle gymnastics that make one guitar sound like an orchestra.

Richard Nunns playing nga taonga puoro (traditional Maori instruments) performs solo as well as accompanying the New Zealand String Quartet, Plan 9 present The Songs of Kurt Weill and merry strummers the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra will be leading a gorgeous singalong across the musical spectrum.

The iconic poetry of Janet Frame is set to music and song in The Poet, featuring Tower Voices New Zealand and New Zealand String Quartet in this a major new work composed by Jenny McLeod.

The Festival theatre offerings are The Dentist’s Chair a new production with bite from Indian Ink Theatre Company direct from an acclaimed premiere in the NZ International Festival of the Arts, Strange Resting Places a tale of kai, waiata and whanau set in Italy during World War 2 and Hotel which is booked to play on site in Room 22 at Miro’s on Rifle Range Rd.

The Lahaha Comedy Series features The Crunchie Comedy Convoy, Australia’s side splitting The Umbilical Brothers and one for all the family, Little Howard and the Magic Pencil of Life and Death featuring Big Howard aka Howard Read and his animated sidekick Little Howard.

The Fire Garden is a visual arts explosion featuring Michel Tuffery firing up his corned beef can bulls, Wi Te Tau Taepa drawing on clay, fire and whakapapa and Spirit Of Place, a unique historical snapshot of early New Zealand art presented by Ferner Gallery.

Writers ERUPT, the first occasion writers have been scheduled in the Festival, features historians Gavin McLean and Paul Diamond, novelist Jenny Pattrick and Ryan Knighton, a Canadian writer known for his comic memoir, Cockeyed – about growing up, going blind and getting both wrong.

Many of the Festival performers are committed to taking public workshops, and supporting school and community events during ERUPT and several shows will take place in Turangi.

The Festival is pleased to premiere the short documentary The Island, produced by Black Pearl Productions, about Motutaiko, the small and mysterious island that lies in the middle of Lake Taupo.

As well as providing food for the soul, ERUPT has invited EAT Catering (off-shoot of Replete) to set up Ignite Bar & Restaurant to provide sublime pre-show and post-show dining.

Full details on ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival website.