Arts Festival fever taking hold with 50,000 tickets sold

Ticket sales for next year's New Zealand International Festival of the Arts in Wellington are 20 per cent higher than for the 2004 festival - with 50,000 tickets snapped up in the first five weeks.

Festival artistic director, Carla van Zon, said this was "a great indication" of how well the festival programme had been received by the public.

"It's always nerve-wracking for me to see what the public will embrace so it's great to see festival fever taking hold," she said.

This year's line-up - which includes two award-winning National Theatre productions (The History Boys and Tristan & Yseult) Les Arts Sauts, Bright Abyss and Eraritjaritjaka - was "a theatre junkie's dream", she said.

The Festival, from February 24 until March 19, will bring more than 1000 artists from 27 countries to Wellington to perform a total of 121 events and 275 individual performances.

It will involve bringing 12 containers of scenery by sea and 35 tonnes of airfreight to New Zealand.

The set and costumes for Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun's opera Tea: A Mirror of Soul are on their way from Lyon in France and arrive in January.

Building the huge set for Alan Bennett's award-winning play The History Boys has begun in Miramar by the set builders who worked on Peter Jackson's King Kong and The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

The job is particularly challenging as it must be packed down to fit in two aeroplanes at the end of performances in Wellington to be flown to the next destination.


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