Escape! to Tauranga

The Escape! festival opens at Baycourt Theatre in Tauranga tomorrow – a holiday weekend of performance, speakers, food, story-telling and workshops. As it’s been taking up a fair bit of my time lately, I thought I’d share some of it with you.

Very excited to have chef Peter Gordon coming, especially as he has generously committed to the festival, despite heading back home to the UK on Monday! Hear him talk to Jesse Mulligan at 11.30am on Saturday (details here).

Dr Siouxsie Wiles is hard to miss in a crowd, she’s a microbiologist with pink hair. Siouxsie (Susie) heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at Auckland University and is giving an illustrated talk on Marvellous Microbes tomorrow at 5.30pm. On Sunday at 2.30pm she’s talking to NZ Herald science reporter Jamie Morton about science communication, and good and bad science (among other things), details here. Read a Q&A about the rise of ‘superbugs’ and antibiotic resistance between Siouxsie and Jamie here.

Friday Night in the Foyer (I think I’ve just named it that) – it’s the Panhandlers at 8pm, a dynamic duo that mix and match music with poetry and spoken word. The foyer is being dressed by the clever people at The Incubator so do come and have a look. Callum’s mum is coming to the show – he hopes she won’t be embarrassed by his new piece about the state of his bedroom!

Shakespeare’s centre stage in the year that marks the 400th anniversary of his death – Michael Hurst brings his one-man show No Holds Bard (Friday & Saturday) and also joins a discussion panel with Professor Mark Houlahan (link to Radio NZ interview) and Donovan Bixley, author-illustrator of a picture book for adults about the Bard (Saturday, 10am).

Then there’s Media Matters (1pm), and what a state of flux our media is in so plenty discuss there, Under Review (with Steve Braunias and Jesse Mulligan at 2.30pm) and our ‘big ideas’ panel, Don’t Mention the Flag. Bringing together former Cabinet Minister Margaret Wilson, business commentator Rod Oram, Auckland’s Basement Theatre general manager and award-winning entrepreneur Charlie McDermott and Awanui Black of the Tauranga Moana Iwi Leaders Forum, the panel includes plenty of time for questions so do come along and be heard.

Sunday kicks off at 10am with what promises to be an intriguing conversation between Steve Braunias, author of The Scene of the Crime, a collection of courtroom writing, and Judge Paul Mabey.

Robert McGowan appears in The Great Escape! on Sunday. Photo: Supplied

Former Katherine Mansfield Fellow Greg McGee talks to Nicky Pellegrino about his novel The Antipodeans (11.30am) which uses both Italy and New Zealand as a backdrop, Dame Anne Salmond talks to Rod Vaughan about her life and work (1pm) and the afternoon ends with a fun panel – The Great Escape! (4pm). Six speakers have 7 minutes each to tell a true story based on the session title. Taking up the challenge are Robert McGowan of Tauranga, a rongoa Maori medicine expert and former Catholic priest, film buff Geoff Lealand, Donovan Bixley, Siouxsie Wiles, Greg McGee and Nicky Pellegrino.

And last, but certainly not least, is an Italian-theme morning tea with Nicky Pellegrino on Monday (Queen’s Birthday) at 10am. She and Escape! director Claire Mabey will chat about Italy, food, books, love and … Italy!

But wait, there’s more … food trucks, coffee carts and free events. The Human Library (10am-2pm, Sat & Sun) and Story-telling on the Lawn (Sat & Sun), or you could pop down to Tauranga Art Gallery for the Zinefest (Sat only).

Be lovely to see you there – door sales still available!

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