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Contractor puts dampener on sold-out circus show

Published: 7:58AM Thursday March 01, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Hundreds of arts festival ticket holders were left high and dry after the opening night of a sold-out show was postponed because a council sprinkler saturated two circus tents.

Last night's New Zealand International Arts Festival sold-out show Circenses was postponed after a Wellington City Council contractor failed to turn off sprinklers in central Wellington's Waitangi Park as instructed.

Two circus tents were soaked when sprinklers inside automatically switched on early yesterday morning. "It was all wet. All props, everything. It was like it rained inside the tent," circus performer Danny Ronaldo said.

With wet electrical equipment, wires, curtains, and props, on top of a soggy floor, he said it was "impossible" to stage last night's show.

Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council was investigating and asking the contractor for a "please explain session".

"We are gutted and dismayed by what has happened," MacLean said, apologising to the performers, festival organisers, and audience. The incident comes 11 months after Cancer Society Relay for Life participants were soaked in a similar incident in Frank Kitts Park.

MacLean said different contractors ran sprinklers in the two parks.

A festival spokeswoman said more than 400 people had been booked for last night's show.

An extra show has been scheduled on Monday for those who missed out last night.

People could bring last night's tickets to Monday's show or swap tickets for another night of Circenses, where seats were available, or for another festival show.

Site manager Chris Morley-Hall said the sprinklers were on for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, a shipping container bobbing in Wellington Harbour near Te Papa is not another festival-related mishap.

It is actually the work of artist Kasia Pol as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival's The Performance Arcade set-up - a series of shipping containers providing miniature performance and installation spaces for artists and designers.