Notable Kiwis share their favourite and ‘brave’ picks — shows that will challenge their perceptions — from the Auckland Arts Festival.

Auckland Arts Festival chair Victoria Carter on Bravo Figaro and iTMOi:

Fave: "I saw Mark Thomas at my first ever Edinburgh Festival last year. To keep an audience riveted to your story, laughing and feeling experiences with you in a soliloquy is a gift Mark has. This story about his father sounds stirring and precious."

Brave: "Akram Khan choreographer extraordinaire, Nitin Sawhney and others means [

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will be] a musical feast and amazing dance."

Broadcaster Carol Hirschfeld on her fave, Fela!:
"The concert has all the elements I love in a live show. Intriguing story, fantastic blend of funk, jazz and Afro music and a huge troupe of fabulous singers, dancers and musicians - what's not to love?"

Minister of Arts Maggie Barry on personal favourite, Macbeth:
"Verdi meets Shakespeare. Macbeth has always been a favourite Shakespeare story of mine. I'm looking forward to this exciting operatic adaptation of Verdi's Macbeth."

Massey University Vice Chancellor Steve Maharey on fave Lake Street Dive:
"Always on the hunt for great new music. They look like the real deal. Gorgeous harmonies, classic soul, insatiable joy. Irresistible."

Columnist Wendyl Nissen on fave, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet:
"I love ballet and contemporary dance and this company combines the two so I will be in seventh heaven watching such an accomplished and skilled troupe. And I'm a big fan of the choreography of Hofesh Shechter so this will be a real treat."

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern on her fave pick Hikoi and brave pick Limbo:
"I am always pretty excited by any opportunity to see New Zealand stories told on stage. Nancy Brunning is such an amazing performer, the chance to see her award-winning play was pretty special and really moving.

"To most people, a show held in the Spiegeltent during the festival is usually a good indication that you're in for something pretty crazy (in a good way) but most people probably weren't sitting at the front of the stage during Smoke & Mirrors a few years ago. I was, which meant becoming a rather unfortunate prop mid-show. I'm looking forward to seeing the same creative producers put on Limbo."

National MP Nikki Kaye on brave pick The Kitchen:
"Ever since I set fire to a bagel in a microwave, I've been wary of spending too much time in the kitchen. So while the kitchen in this show is strictly metaphorical, and it promises to be a fantastic theatrical experience, I'm still feeling wary enough to label this my 'brave' choice at the festival."