Kiwi zombies and dancers invade festival

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014
HAKA: A New Zealand kapa haka performer takes part in the popular Haka how in Edinburgh.
SIMON WILSON

HAKA: A New Zealand kapa haka performer takes part in the popular Haka how in Edinburgh.

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Zombies, modern dancers and haka groups are leading a New Zealand invasion of the largest arts festival in the world.

About 200 Kiwi artists and performers are taking part in six art, music and theatre festivals held in Edinburgh this month.

The New Zealand season features the largest number of Kiwi artists to appear at the prestigious festival.

About a dozen New Zealand shows are included in this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is the largest festival in the world, with 3000 shows a day, hundreds of venues and thousands of tickets sold across the month.

The New Zealand shows in the Fringe include immersive zombie thriller The Generation of Z, which has been hotly tipped by British newspapers and has already performed to soldout crowds, and HAKA, a show by New Zealand kapa haka groups Te Waka Huia and Te Whanau a Apanui, which is being performed for hundreds of people a day.

The haka performers, along with New Zealand highland dancers, are also taking part in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which will be seen by about 220,000 people and millions on television. Arts council Creative New Zealand has supported Kiwi artists involved in the season with about $782,000 in funding for airfares, accommodation and freight costs.

The Fringe festival can launch global theatre careers, said Creative New Zealand international senior adviser, Amy Saunders.

"This will present New Zealand on an international stage, raise its profile and offer artists opportunities for international touring and professional development."

A comedy drama by Christchurch playwright Victor Rodger, Black Faggot, has already attracted a four-star review from Broadway Baby, a leading Fringe review website.

The Kiwi season at Edinburgh has been two years in the making, with programmers and theatre directors coming to New Zealand to select shows for the programme.

Many of the NZ shows are being staged by Assembly, which curates a well-respected programme of shows across several venues for the Fringe every year.

Assembly special events manager Kim Acland, who grew up in Christchurch, said she was proud of the New Zealand season.

"It is extraordinary to bring 200 artists here and make this explosion," she said.

Charlie Gates is in Edinburgh with assistance from Creative New Zealand.

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