Announcing the 2015 Perth International Arts Festival

PIAF_Circa_Beyond_Andy Phillipson_editorialDaring and unforgettable, diverse and enriching, innovative and profound – the 2015 Perth International Arts Festival program delivers a cultural feast for arts lovers of all ages and persuasions, living up to the Festival’s worldwide reputation for excellence.

In a quintessentially Western Australian experience, over 1000 of the world’s great artists transform and disrupt Perth this summer as the 63rd Festival spills across unique venues and glorious, outdoor spaces.

Perth International Arts Festival is the longest-running annual multi-arts celebration in the Southern Hemisphere and the jewel in the crown of Western Australia’s cultural life, that is expected to draw more than one million people to the streets to experience the greatest collection of international artistic experiences Perth has ever known.

“No two Festival journeys will be the same and our hope is that your travels through this Festival will include experiences both intimate and epic. Experiences that whet the appetite and stimulate all five senses,” says Artistic Director Jonathan Holloway.

“Moments that allow us to remember something we all knew as children – that the map is not the territory, that the best discoveries are made by straying from the path or committing to a fantastic voyage.”

The 2015 Festival opens in an epic spectacle of wonder with Royal de Luxe’s The Incredible and Phenomenal Journey of the Giants to the Streets of Perth, the biggest arts event Western Australia has ever seen. For three days over the opening weekend, the French masters of theatrical magic let loose a modern-day fable that will transform Perth forever, as 11-metre tall giants take inspiration from uniquely Western Australian stories and tour the city, commemorating the Anzac centenary.

The 2015 theatre and opera program is equal parts philosophical, political and sensual, with an array of world-renowned international productions and breathtaking Australian talent. In an Australian exclusive and a Festival highlight comes the English National Opera’s production of Anthony Minghella’s award-winning Madama Butterfly.

Making its world premiere, the Perth International Arts Festival co-commission The Rabbits brings together an incredible team of Australian talent including Kate Miller-Heidke, Lally Katz, Iain Grandage, Gabriela Tylesov and John Sheedy, who transform John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s compelling picture book into operatic delight.

Black Diggers interweaves vignettes to present stories of Indigenous soldiers who fought in the battlefields of WW1 for Australia and then returned home to be treated as second-class citizens. By turns witty, moving and enlightening, this production shares an important national narrative of injustice based on extensive research, as part of the Festival’s centenary of Anzac commemorations.

Illustrious South African puppeteers Handstring Puppet Company team up with renowned artist, animator and director William Kentridge in the Australian premiere of Ubu and the Truth Commission; while world-class Irish actress Lisa Dwan exquisitely realises Beckett’s trilogy Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby in a landmark one-woman performance.

Acclaimed Australian circus ensemble Circa present Beyond, a cutting-edge spectacle of contemporary music, sublime acrobatics and irresistibly outlandish humour that made it a massive Edinburgh Festival hit; and from the UK, Davy and Kristin McGuire bring their exquisite paper creations to Perth for an immersive evening of theatre on a miniature scale with the Australian premiere of The Paper Architect.

Over four days, the 2015 Perth Writers Festival (19-22 Feb) brings a superb program of international and Australian authors, innovators, artists, activists and provocateurs including British author Hilary Mantel, American author Elizabeth Gilbert, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Roberston QC, US justice lawyer and revered TED speaker Bryan Stevenson, Booker Prize-winner and Irish provocateur DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little), and prolific British novelist and fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Nicholas Shakespeare.

Dance journeys the spectrum from the soaringly balletic to the exhilaratingly modern including, New York’s legendary Mark Morris Dance Group reinterpreting Mozart’s masterpieces through dance in Mozart Dances. Aakash Odedra thrills with Rising,  while Broome-based Indigenous dance theatre group Marrugeku explore the effects of climate change from a specifically Indigenous perspective in the world premiere of Cut the Sky, and The West Australian Ballet returns with its beloved Ballet At The Quarry summer season of ballet under the stars, headlined by international choreographer Annabelle Lopez’s Zip, Zap, Zoom.

Over 24 nights, Perth will rock throughout the Festival to an eclectic selection of sounds tracing majestic pop to indie rock, trip hop to afro-soul. Highlights include Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor, Rufus Wainwright, indie-pop darlings London Grammar, American alt-rockers Spoon, Neneh Cherry, Chet Faker, Scots Mogwai return to the Festival in a double bill with Dinosaur Jr frontman J Mascis; and Tuareg guitarist and singer Bombino brings the sound of the Sahara to Perth with his desert blues-rock jams.

The Festival takes art to the people as the Festival’s in-between spaces are playfully transformed and life re-imagined, with the Chevron Festival Gardens acting as the exciting festival hub, central to festival-goers’ experience. Across the festival, guests gather, discuss and participate, enjoying a diverse, world-class program of free events.

The 2015 Perth International Arts Festival runs 13 February to 7 March. For more information and complete program, visit: for details.

Image: Circa’s Beyond – photo by Andy Phillipson