Powerful drama a highlight of festival

Tauranga Arts Festival organisers hope this year's headline performance will get the creative juices flowing and art fans excited.

Massive Company's The Brave, a play performed by eight young men, explores the pressures faced by young New Zealand blokes, including identity, culture, sexuality, and the kiwi expectation to "harden up".

It is the first taste of what's to come in this year's arts festival, which announced the festival patron's fund would directly support New Zealand's hottest up and coming playwrights, performers and musicians.

"We've always delivered international acts but it's also essential that we foster emerging national talent," festival director Jo Bond said.

"This fund will enable our 2013 programme to show a number of works by young performers and theatre companies.

Actor Sam Neil has called their show (The Brave) "powerful, beautifully acted and directed."

Bethlehem College graduate Rochelle Bright, now general manager of Massive Company, said she was thrilled to bring The Brave's cast to the Bay.

Festival chair Glenn Dougal said organisers wanted audiences to leave the theatre reflecting on the work and their own personal stories.

"Emerging performers like these are the reason the patron's fund is important and why we're inviting individuals, families and local businesses to join Tauranga Arts Festival in building the next generation of Kiwi talent," Mr Dougal said.

"Ours is a young, growing city and events like the Tauranga Arts Festival really mark our coming of age."

Since 1999 the festival has presented a programme of performances and events including the 2007 Earth From Above exhibition, that attracted 102,000 visitors.

The 2013 festival will run from October 24 to November 3. Tickets go on sale from August.

Shows will be held at Baycourt, Tauranga Art Gallery and the Pacific Crystal Palace on The Strand. Additional performances will be held in Katikati, Mount Maunganui and Te Puke.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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