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Auckland Arts Festival 2015 Digest

Dione Joseph will be roving around the Auckland Arts Festival 2015 to bring The Big Idea ‘musing and mutterings’ in this digest along with commentary of the work and its journey to get there.

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The etymology of the word ‘festival’ is quite fascinating. As tempting as it is to associate it with ‘fiesta’ and presume it is simply a party (and why not since the romantic language translations certainly offer that as one interpretation) it is in fact a potent word tracing its roots back to Old French and Medieval Latin. In fact, thanks to the OED (Online Etymology Dictionary) you can see that in the 1580s the word was associated with a selected day of festive celebration that was suitable for a ‘feast’; and going back even further in its history, it was used to mark auspicious to church holidays.

Reflecting upon the evolution of the word and its numerous manifestations across the world it is easy to see how an event such as the Auckland Arts Festival (which was officially re-launched fifteen years ago) is indeed a feast for the senses. Running from March 4-22 it marks a notable shift to an annual festival and showcases an impressive program of arts across theatre, dance, music, film as well as range of different multidisciplinary and community orientated events.

But in the midst of the inevitable festival frenzy (including the lack of sleep, increasing efficiency at finding cheaper parking and the ability to hotfoot it from one event to the next with ease despite wearing highly impractical footwear) I want to take time to pause.

Literally yes to have time to have a conversation that isn’t dictated by schedule or appointment or indeed the fact that my tummy is making inappropriate noises because I’ve skipped more meals than I should  – but to really take a moment to capture the luxury to stand and stare.

Or at least sit down and pretend my feet aren’t killing me. Because there is a pleasure to muse and wonder not just at the work being presented but its journey, my journey, the journey of the person sitting beside me or in front; to imagine what is going through the minds of an audience as people head out to continue their private lives after having shared in a precious communal moment. Those liminal moments where snatches of conversation jostle with memories all simultaneously being stimulated by watching someone across the room render an experience that is both compete and simultaneously part of a much larger continuum – all held in suspension by an event that a group of individuals have come together to witness.

It might sound rather grandiose but it is really the kinks in human nature to which I gravitate and in the next few weeks my weekly digests will hold these musings and mutterings (quite likely to be vaguely introspective and delightfully abstract) but I promise that amongst gripping insights on the work I do get to see I will include practical commentary. If you have suggestions please let me know but at the moment I’m thinking perhaps on the length of the queues at the ladies toilets and how comfy are the seats. Maybe I’ll include leg-space too and have a debate with myself on whether programmes are necessary.

After all it is the Auckland Arts Festival. So do join me to hear what rumblings are being made in the foyer, backstage and in the car park. Or at the very least how pretty Aotea Square looks lit up in pink.

And if you’re around come and say hi. You just might make it into this festival digest.