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Best of the Fest

Mon 2 Mar 2015 In: Events View at Wayback View at NDHA

Three GayNZ.com contributors outline their highlights from the 2015 Auckland Pride Festival. GayNZ.com Content Editor Jay Bennie: The third Auckland Pride Festival will always stand out in my memory for two events that couldn't be more different in scale and intent. The small but perfectly formed two nights-only season of Fine Fatale's Freak Show in Mangere was an absolute revelation. Samoan tradition culture (and a little Maori too) recast with big city 21st century experiences and expectations. Small beautifully danced, choreographed and acted vignettes exposed the truths embodied in the lives of many of our fa'afafine sisters. But as mesmerising and personal as all the pieces were it was the crew and performers courage and staunchness that will remain with me, the sheer effrontery to blow the lid off the inherited limitations of Samoan cultural norms and entrenched religious bigotry that constrain and blight fa'afafine lives here and in the Islands. It was a visual, aural and mind-blowing experience. The huge, gaudy, noisy, silly and serious central city Pride Parade is the other no-brainer for my contribution to this list. The lessons of the first two parades were largely learned, the evening/night-time timing added excitement and drama and at last everyone seemed to loosen their corsets and go for broke. There was humour and humility, history and frivolity, big city glamour and down on the farm folksiness. There were issues and escapism, small and large scale floats and entrants. Though their presence was uncomfortable for some, the armed services and the commercial organisations have done the hard yards in terms of developing a glbti-understanding ethos and where there is still progress to be made their taking the risk of being in this event was part of their journey. Protest has its place in the limelight too, although the descent into violence disturbed me. But we are not, and never should be, a homogenous collection of communities. There is strength in diversity and the Pride Parade had that in spades. GayNZ.com reviewer and contributor Lexie Matheson With so much on – Fringe Festival, Pride, Summer Shakespeare, Arts Festival – it’s tricky to separate who from what and to remember what was Pride and what wasn’t. Regardless, it was a feast worth partaking in. I had four outstanding experiences during Pride, two were theatre works of exceptional depth and quality, one was a conference and the other an odd little creature called A Different Conversation. It’s impossible to separate the theatre works because they were simply so different. Mika’s Room 1334’was a brilliant shift in emphasis from the glam to the unashamedly intellectual and the deviation was beautifully handled. Don’t get me wrong, it was still dazzlingly gorgeous but this show had a depth in the writing and the conceptualisation that challenged its audience in ways that I, for one, love to be challenged. Girl on a Corner, Victor Rodger’s new work, was remarkable in quite a different way in that he had the courage to create a massive role inside for a transgender actress in what is essentially an ensemble work. Amakaki Prescott was quite simply brilliant as Shalimar, the direction was taut and exposed the fragility of the narrative, and the script was an absolute stunner. Ten out of ten for both of these fine productions. Picture: Cushla Matheson Queers in Tertiary Hui 2015, hosted this year by AUT University, was an excellent example of just how impressive our queer academics really are. Professor Edwina Pio’s paper, Je Suis Diversity, provided a politicised context to the day, Aych McArdle’s Our Gendered City looked at how we use language to reflect the experiences of gender-diverse Aucklanders, and Professor Welby Ings – perhaps the best presenter on every level that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to – provoked even more than usual with Why We Should Always Write With Pink Chalk. A simply magnificent day. ‘A Different Conversation’ was a day and a half forum that explored the interface between the LGBTIQ communities and people of faith, in this case Pentecostal and Evangelical Christians. It’s historically a fraught space, a space of anger and dissention, but this proved to be quite the opposite with respectful dialogue, much laughter and much more than expected harmony. Highlights of the weekend were showings of Maya Newell’s excellent documentary film ‘Growing up Gayby’ and the contribution made by Chairman of the Otara-Papakura Local Board Fa’anana Efeso Collins who talked about yet another, even more complex, interface, that of LGBTIQ, Christianity and the Samoan community. Vivid, funny, moving and rich. Four experiences that illustrate what an amazing set of communities we belong to and just how a festival such as Pride can illuminate this richness. GayNZ.com journalist Jacqui Stanford I love the Big Gay Out. I haven’t missed it in a decade. I first turned up trying to figure out who I was, and something just clicked. Since then I have had many different years - tearing it up in the dance tent, helping in a stall, chilling in front of the main stage with friends. These days I love wandering around Coyle Park hand in hand with my wife just soaking it all in. There is no vibe like it – people just buzzing with being who they are, amidst thousands of others feeling the same. The Big Gay Out will always be the ultimate Pride event for me. I didn’t make it to a lot of theatre this year, however I did get to UK offering Away from Home and it was just brilliant. Actor Rob Ward’s whirlwind depiction of a whole host of characters was flawless, fun and mind-bending. He managed to make it seem like there were a dozen people on stage. Loved it! And really, you can't go past the Bear Drag Race can you!? GayNZ.com contributers - 2nd March 2015    

Credit: GayNZ.com contributers

First published: Monday, 2nd March 2015 - 12:35pm

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