Tuesday, November 14, 2017



Adelaide Festival 2018. 

Joint Artistic Directors Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healey. The Adelaide Festival Centre. March 2 – 18 2018. 

For programme information and bookings go to www.adelaidefestival.com.au or email info@adelaidefestival.com.au or phone BASS on 131246

Previewed by Peter Wilkins

The Lost and Found Orchestra

“There’s no doubt – Adelaide in March is the place to be” It certainly is, and especially with joint Artistic Directors of the Adelaide Festival, Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healey at the helm for their second year. This comes as no great surprise given the resounding success of their first festival last year. Audiences are still raving about Barrie Kosky’s amazing production of Handel’s Saul, direct from Glyndebourne to the Festival Theatre stage and Armfield’s own highly acclaimed production of Andrew Bovell’s adaptation of Kate Grenville’s Secret River under the night sky at Anstey’s Quarry. This year, Armfield’s Glyndebourne production of Hamlet will be the hottest ticket in town and the short season is already virtually sold out.
Brett Dean's Hamlet from Glyndebourne Festival Opera
 Hamlet is only one of the stunning array of  events on offer  at the 2018 Adelaide Festival. Visitors to Adelaide will have a mind-blowing choice of forty eight theatre, music, opera, dance, film and visual arts events. This is in addition to the popular free Writer’s Week and the magnificent world music event WOMADelaide

From the 2nd. to the 18th. March 2018, Adelaide audiences will have the opportunity to revel in four world premieres, 14 Australian premieres and 13 events exclusive to Adelaide, arguably the site of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious arts festival.

“In 2018 we have programmed works of mighty scale and whispering intimacy”, Healey and Armfiield say, “all of them fired by an ambition to enthrall, challenge, awe and inspire." This is no ambit claim. The dynamic duo bring years of experience, talent and vision to the task, having worked together to establish Belvoir as one of the most innovative, adventurous and creative theatre companies in the country. The success alone of last year’s sell-out festival augurs well for another triumphant  arts festival under their stewardship.

Premier Jay Weatherill proudly claims the Adelaide Festival to be the nation’s leading arts festival. It is certainly the oldest, having been launched in 1960 in honour of its founding father, the late Professor John Bishop. “Tens of thousands of people will converge on Adelaide”, the Premier says, “to soak up the art, culture, conversations and ideas that the Adelaide Festival presents, alongside WOMADelaide and Adelaide Writer’s Week.”
 The Festival State has long been renowned for its family events and the opening of this year’s festival is no exception. The Lost and Found Orchestra will kick off this year’s festival with a resounding bang. Over two nights, festival-goers will be able to flock to Elder Park on the bank of the River Torrens to enjoy free entertainment and a musical extravaganza conceived by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas of STOMP fame, and an international sensation after its 1992 Adelaide Festival appearance. Instruments adapted from traffic cones, water coolers, saws and kitchen sinks will accompany troupes of comedians, aerialists and young and old musicians.

Heading other festival highlights will be Brett Dean’s version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, direct from Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Like this year’s phenomenal production of Handel’s Saul, Hamlet will be accompanied by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the State Opera of South Australia chorus. Seats to the Adelaide Festival Theatre production are already selling like hotcakes.

Those who remember the remarkable production of The Roman Tragedies from Amsterdam’s Toneelgroep, will rush to buy tickets for this year’s thrilling and powerful production of Kings of War, drawing on Shakespeare’s Henry V, Henry Vl Parts 1 and 2 and 3 and Richard lll.
Noone will want to miss Ex Machina’s The Far Side of the Moon, a virtuoso one man performance by Yves Jacques under the direction of brilliant theatre maker, Robert Lepage.
Grace Jones
Musical highlights include the return to Adelaide after 36 years of Grace Jones in a not to be missed one night concert. Hailed as successor to the legendary Billie Holiday, jazz vocalist, Cecile McLorin Salvant has Grammy Awards to her credit, and is sure to wow Adelaide audiences in her single performance. Another one nighter is the amazing Kate Miller-Heidke who will join the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for the Adelaide premiere of her biggest hits. Lovers of opera will not want to miss Swedish mezzo soprano, Anne Sophie von Otter. In contrast to these solo performers Rundfunkchor Berlin will make their first and only choral appearance in Adelaide. Imagine Brahm’s soulful songs being sung as the choir moves among the audience, singing of Death while providing comfort to the living.
Xenos with Akram Kahn

Dance has long been a feature of Adelaide’s artistic oeuvre. Audiences who witnessed the magic of Akram Khan’s dance work at the recent OzAsia Festival in Adelaide will be eager to see his solo farewell performance. Xenos is inspired by the Prometheus myth and will mark the end of Kahn’s 30 year career as arguably the world’s greatest male dancer. This is a rare treat for Adelaide audiences, and one that is not to be missed.

The theatre highlights of next year’s festival alone are reason enough to book a flight to Australia’s picturesque city of gardens and churches in the mad month of March. Armfield’s former company Belvoir will bring artistic director Simon Stone’s thrilling adaptation of Seneca’s tragedy Thyestes to Adelaide. Audiences familiar with Stone’s work will expect a provocative and mind bending interpretation of the bloodthirsty classic. They will not be disappointed. Stone brings Seneca’s first century classic hurtling into the 21st century. “It’s perhaps the most disturbing, funny, beautiful and unforgettable 90 minutes of Australian theatre an audience is ever likely to experience.” the media release claims.  One would expect nothing less from director, Simon Stone.
Simon Stone's Thyestes

Since its beginnings, the Adelaide Festival has pioneered extraordinary performances by leading international companies. In 2018, Belgian Youth Theatre Company, BRONKS, will present Us/Them  in memory of the horrific 2004 siege by Chechan terrorists of the public school in Beslan. Directed by Carly Wijs, the play tells the story from the perspective of a girl and a boy who were inside at the time. Originally staged at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, the play will be exclusively performed at the Adelaide Festival after a sell-out season at London’s National Theatre.
ShiberHur Theatre presents AZZA
 Adelaide’s ground breaking Brink Productions whom audiences may remember as the producer of Chris Drummond’s startling production of Andrew Bovell’s When The Rain Stops Falling, has certainly earned its stripes to feature in a major arts festival. Alice Oswald’s poetic masterpiece, Memorial personalizes the deaths of 215 soldiers immortalized in Homer’s Iliad. This gigantic collaboration with Oswald will feature the legendary Helen Morse, a live score by Golden Globe nominated composer Jocelyn Pook and a massive cast of  local volunteers. This timely production will celebrate the Centenary of the 1918 Armistice.

Music theatre production AZZA will be the first Australian visit by the celebrated ShiberHur Theatre Company under the direction of Palestinian director Amir Nizar Zuabi. Azza is the Arabic word for the three days of mourning that follow a death, The production invites audiences to follow one family whose communal grief, shared history and ancient rituals “open a window into the soul of a community”

TAHA will be performed as a companion piece to AZZA under the direction of Amer Hlehel. TAHA tells the story of the great Palestinian poet, Taha Muhammad Ali a monologue infused by the hypnotic and sensuous language of Taha’s verse, a tale of hope, terror displacement, grief and joy will unfold.

Arthur Sauer’s compelling soundtrack will recall the fierce sacrifice and suffering of the Great War as performed by Dutch live animation company Hotel Modern. THE GREAT WAR is adapted from lost letters of a French soldier to his mother, the miniature worlds created on the stage and projected onto large screens.

The State Theatre Company of South Australia presents In The Club, Patricia Cornelius’s about the darkest elements of football culture. Cornelius has drawn on real life testimony of female AFL fans to create visceral theatre, a combination of documentary and Greek Tragedy. Artistic director, Geordie Brookman directs a cast of actors for whom the work has been specifically written.
I have barely scraped the surface of the 2018 Adelaide Festival. Visual Art exhibitions, free family events, free Writers’ Week sessions on the Torrens Parade Ground lawns and the glorious sounds emanating from WOMADelaide between the Botanic Gardens and the Adelaide Zoo offer yet another amazing cultural banquet to suit every taste.

In their Welcome to the Adelaide Festival programme booklet, Armfield and Healey say, “We search for work that is unforgettable, beautiful, rich in meaning and with a theatrical daring and scale that claims its place on a festival stage. Our world might feel caught between seemingly irreconcilable contradictions – forces that threaten to tear it apart – but the desire for meaning and reconciliation, for justice and for love, beauty and joy is stronger than ever. This is the light that great art creates.”

Illuminating, daring and uplifting, the 2018 Adelaide Festival will have something for everyone, but more than that it will shine a light upon our world and our place in it and give us hope for a better and brighter future. Adelaide in March is certainly the place to be and the 2018 Adelaide Festival the event to visit. It promises to be a not to be missed experience whose short time is sure to last a lifetime.