Bread & Circus: Christchurch is officially a festival city

About a year and a half ago, Nick and I co-wrote an article about what makes a great city. We talked a lot about how great cities are constantly reinventing themselves; they manage to tell a story about their past, but know where they are heading in the future. This statement couldn’t be more true for Christchurch at this very moment during Bread & Circus. 

If you hadn’t realised, Christchurch has been taken over by circus and it’s time to catch up. The World Buskers Festival has been reimagined for 2019 as Bread & Circus with world-class acts, solidifying Christchurch as a festival city on the global stage.

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img_8400Photos by Malia Rose

Here’s what we saw and loved:

Limbo
The headlining act, Limbo is a mix of cabaret, circus and acrobatics. We went on opening night and like Madonna, we’ll be booking tickets to go again. Think Cirque de Soleil with more personality and sex appeal. Lucky for you, it’s on until the end of the festival, so there’s still plenty of time to get tickets.

Hot Brown Honey
Hip hop politics and sassy feminism, Hot Brown Honey is unapologetically fierce and controversial. It’s a show that challenges stereotypes, shatters preconceptions and embraces resilience. I spent the evening laughing and crying and dancing in my seat. It’s one of the most life changing and powerful performances I’ve ever witnessed.

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Piff the Magic Dragon
With sold out shows across North America, (plus a permanent stage at the Flamingo in Vegas) Piff is equal parts magician and comic. He impressed audiences on America’s Got Talent and his videos have over 100 million views…  With his assistant and chihuahua, Mr. Piffles (who I got to hold for half the show, I might add…) and a nonchalant sense of humour, Piff had us shaking in our seats and Nick running across the stage to catch bananas in his mouth. His magic tricks, especially his card tricks, will leave you entertained without suspending disbelief.

The Miss Behave Gameshow
Direct from Las Vegas, The Miss Behave Gameshow is a fast and frenzied brew of variety, competition and disco that divides the audience into two teams based on their mobile phone of choice. With a series of challenges, the gameshow encourages the audience to let go of inhibitions and enjoy the ride. My best advice for this one is to expect the unexpected and prepare to be wildly entertained by both yourself and your hosts. Audience members compete for some pretty questionable prizes and become the stars of the show.

The O.T.T. Show
If you’re a fan of the ridiculous, the O.T.T. Show delivers on all accounts. With more nudity than I thought legally possible, this one-night-only show wasn’t for the faint of heart or easily offended. With Le Gateau Chocolat as our soulful and sassy host, we howled with laughter throughout one time only cabaret and theatre performances by Garry Starr, Betty Grumble, Daredevil Chicken, Hot Brown Honey and Tiffany from the Miss Behave Game Show. Think full frontal nudity plus ballet in a thong and that’s just the beginning!

LEO: The Anti-Gravity Show
A clever and contemporary take on mime and silent performance, LEO is both beautiful and poignant. The work challenges perceptions of reality through the interplay of live performance and video projection. Mind-bending and surreal, LEO may be less accessible than some of the other shows, however, the compelling work has impressed art critics all over the world and has taken home several festival awards.

The Feast of Fools
The highlight of my year, (and potentially my life) The Feast of Fools was a masked moving feast filled with gastronomic delights by The Catering Dept. and theatrical adventures throughout the evening. After purchasing tickets, we were emailed instructions on where to meet and what to wear. We dressed up in our most fabulous (and slightly ridiculous) festival attire for the medieval banquet of the century. We had no idea where the night would take us, but we met at Great Hall before boarding trams to dinner. Along the way, we were greeted by performers Daredevil Chicken and Cocoloco, who acted as our hosts, broke the fourth wall and changed character and costume more times than I could count! We ended up feasting on Oxford Terrace, along the Avon River, in the heart of the city. As we dined and were dazzled, I couldn’t help but marvel at our lively central city, absolutely buzzing with people.

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The night concluded with the Festival Superband, Bread & Circus’ A-list of musicians, singers, rappers (and a few performers on the d-floor…)

There you have it, eight shows in eight days… although I’m now thinking we need to go see Garry Starr’s last performance tonight!

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In the three years I’ve lived in Christchurch, I constantly compared it to the other cities I’ve lived in and visited. Last night while having dinner along Oxford Terrace, I finally felt as though Christchurch had stopped trying to measure up to other cities. It felt like the city had matured, become comfortable in its skin, and embraced the vibrant, quirky and exciting place I’d always hoped it would become.

 

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