What’s On: May and June highlights

Events to check out this autumn.

Compiled by: Ann Warnock

Swan Lake

Principal Mayu Tanigaito. Photo: Ross Brown.

When: 1 May to 2 June
Where: Wellington, Auckland, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill
Web: rnzb.org.nz

Staged for the first time in a decade, RNZB’s production of this classical romantic ballet celebrates the technical mastery of a new generation of dancers. With opulent designs by the late legendary costume designer Kristian Fredrikson and lighting by acclaimed technician specialist Jon Buswell, the season honours the artistic legacy of former artistic director and RNZB kaumātua Russell Kerr (1930-2022).

NZ International Comedy Festival

Chris Parker.

When: 3 to 26 May
Where: Auckland and Wellington venues
Web: comedyfestival.co.nz

This year’s event features 140 shows and the contemporary comedians from Aotearoa and around the globe. The line-up includes a Comedy Gala hosted by Chris Parker along with The Comedy Mixtape, The Great Comedy Debate and a programme of new solo shows including Melanie Bracewell, Guy Montgomery, Nazeem Hussain, Fern Brady, Chopper, and Tom Cashman.

Sally Bulling

All Day Rose (2023).

When: 14 to 28 May
Where: Parnell Gallery, Auckland
Web: parnellgallery.co.nz

The latest body of work by contemporary painter Sally Bulling showcases her bold abstract practice and interest in luminosity and reflection. Exploring themes of colour, illusion and surface tension, Bulling utilises liquid glass to preserve layers of paint — delivering an aura of light and sculptural form to her paintings.


Geoff Francis, Eightyone.

When: 18 May to 15 June
Where: Circa Theatre, Wellington
Web: circa.co.nz

The fight against Covid-19 became a war. Directed by Stuart McKenzie and Miranda Harcourt, this play is billed as a Shakespearean tragedy in three acts — from eliminating the Covid-19 virus to eliminating a government. Charting the violent protests and economic upheaval of the vaccine rollouts and rules to the downfall of a prime minister, it probes the profound responsibility of political power.

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Mr & Mrs Macbeth of Heathcote Road

When: 18 May to 22 June
Where: The Court Theatre, Christchurch
Web: courttheatre.org.nz

Plot: Jo and Tom Macbeth are professional actors renowned as Shakespearean specialists. It’s the opening night of Macbeth and 30 minutes before the curtain goes up, something major has happened in the dressing room. Not great timing. A backstage comedy traversing the pits and peaks of partnerships on and off stage. Starring Mark Hadlow and Lara Macgregor.

From Here on the Ground

Roland Hipkins, Renaissance (1932).

When: 18 May to 17 November
Where: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū
Web: christchurchartgallery.org.nz

This show, a survey of 20th-century New Zealand artists exploring urban, suburban and industrial landscapes, is the first analysis of its kind within an art history context. It features paintings of cityscapes, factories, populated places and railway stops. With works from the gallery’s archives and collections throughout Aotearoa, the exhibition includes leading artists Rita Angus, Buster Black, Russell Clark, Ivy Fife, Rhona Haszard, Louise Henderson, Roland Hipkins, Doris Lusk, Christopher Perkins, Juliet Peter and Bill Sutton.

Margery Blackman: Weaving, Life

Margery Blackman, Frame 2 (circa 1977). Photo: John Daley.

When: 18 May to 13 October
Where: Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Web: dunedin.art.museum

A three-decade survey of the life work of Dunedin artist and textiles scholar Margery Blackman comprises a significant body of tapestries, weavings, photographs and ephemera. The show centres on woven tapestries, placing them in the context of Blackman’s early weaving and her extensive scholarly contributions to cultural institutions in Ōtepoti and throughout Aotearoa.

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Le comte Ory

When: 30 May to 29 June
Where: Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, Ōtautahi Christchurch
Web: nzopera.com

NZ Opera’s first-time production of Rossini’s comic masterpiece is a rollercoaster of deception, intrigue, flirtation and farce. The scheming Count Ory muddles his way through a star-crossed storyline in a contemporary staging of this 1820s classic, directed by Simon Phillips with production design by Tracy Grant Lord (see NZ Life & Leisure, July/August 2023).

Memory Lines

Kirtika Kain, The Solar Line II (2020).

When: To 30 June
Where: City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi
Web: citygallery.org.nz

Five contemporary artists consider the link between memory, knowledge and art in a show traversing photography, film, sculptural installation, textiles and painting. Featuring works by Fiona Clark, Kirtika Kain, Rozana Lee, Sriwhana Spong and Hōhua Thompson, Memory Lines explores the power of art to preserve, transmit and disrupt.

Red, White and Brass — Auckland Theatre Company

When: 18 June to 6 July
Where: ASB Waterfront Theatre, Auckland
Web: atc.co.nz

A stage adaptation of the film Red, White and Brass tells the tale of a group of Tongan rugby super fans who form a brass marching band for the Rugby World Cup pre-match entertainment in a bid to see their heroes play France. What starts as a crazy idea becomes a journey of self-discovery and cultural awakening. Based (sort of) on a true story.

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