I don’t know what it says about RINGO STARR AND HIS ALL STARR BAND, but I’m sure it says something, that I simply forgot to include them in last week’s Take Five, yet feel duty-bound to do so this week for those reading an early print edition of the magazine or when the issue first goes online. For the rest of you, they will have been and gone by now, and your life will be none the worse for it, but hey, we are talking Ringo here – the Beatles and all that. Possibly the most interesting aspect of the tour is to be found in the All Starr Band: no, not the bloke out of Mr Mister (Mr Mister – I ask you), but the wayward yet wondrous Todd Rundgren. CBS Arena, Christchurch, February 7; Vector Arena, Auckland, February 9.
THE NEW ZEALAND FRINGE FESTIVAL (February 15-March 9) is not the nationwide event its name might suggest, but rather one focused on the capital. Such self-aggrandisement, when there is also the Auckland Fringe on at the same time and Dunedin Fringe Festival imminent. And Wellingtonians wonder why the rest of the country thinks so poorly of them. (I say that as a Wellingtonian myself.) Comedy, dance, music, theatre, the visual arts – they’re all there. Among the highlights is The Lady Garden (February 17), which takes life modelling to the nth degree: the public is invited to use the naked bodies of “lady gardeners” as a canvas to write or draw on, or just to appreciate them as asexual objects, such as the Lampshade Lady or Potted Lady-plant. Meanwhile, Trick of the Light Theatre have brought home their Edinburgh Festival Fringe hit The Road That Wasn’t There (February 12-17), featuring three actors and – count them – 53 puppets. “It’s a story from the twitchy edges of children’s literature,” according to its writer, Ralph McCubbin Howell, “a dark world reminiscent of Coraline, Pan’s Labyrinth and the works of the late great Margaret Mahy.” After Wellington, the play tours until March 16 (winding up, as it happens, at the Dunedin Fringe Festival). Beyond the fringe (ahem), there is also the HAMILTON GARDENS ARTS FESTIVAL (February 15-March 9), which earns brownie points for many things, not least its rose garden screening of Terrence Malick’s 1978 movie Days of Heaven (February 28) and – how Listener Book Club-friendly is this? – the chance for some Regency dancing at the Jane Austen Summer Assembly (February 24 and 28).
Actually, we’re not completely beyond the fringe. As part of the Auckland Fringe (highlighted in last week’s Take Five, when I was forgetting about Ringo Starr), the PINEAPPLE JUKEBOX DANCE SHOW invites audience members to insert a coin and choose from a list of songs and accompanying dance styles, from the can-can to ballet, the Charleston to grunge. Something to make up for Elvis Costello leaving his Spectacular Spinning Songbook at home when he played the city the other week. The Loft, Q Theatre, February 20-23.
HAS THE INTERNET KILLED PHOTOGRAPHY? is the slyly alarmist, audience-baiting title of a talk by Dowse Art Museum director Courtney Johnston at the City Gallery Wellington to accompany its exhibition by old-school (make that Victorian school) photographer Ben Cauchi. Johnston will be surveying various aspects of photography in the digital age, including such websites as Dear Photograph (where you are invited to take a photograph of a photograph from the past in the same location today – are you keeping up there?) and My Daguerrotype Boyfriend (a Tumblr repository for pictures of historic hotties). Sometimes you’ve just gotta love the internet. February 16.
It’s been a critical and bums-on-seat success in Auckland and Wellington, now it’s Christchurch’s turn for Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize-winning AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. Court Theatre, February 16-March 9.