2017 Castlemaine State Festival

Under a Willow – a long way from ChinaFrom the launch of a sensational new local venue, to a celebration of the reality of the refugee experience presented uniquely in a tunnel under a railway line, the 2017 Castlemaine State Festival encompasses some of the world’s most captivating local and international performers and visual arts.

The Castlemaine Goods Shed is earmarked to be a new leading centre for creativity in central Victoria. The venue launches as part of the 2017 Festival, acting as home to an expansive program of physical theatre, circus, cabaret and dance. Highlights include; Tom Flanagan – who explores the simple and universally engaging charm of silent movie slapstick in Kaput!; and outstanding Aussie acrobatic Joel Salom performing as his colourful alter-ego robotic canine Erik the Dog.

The Pitts Family Circus brings their five piece family affair to Castlemaine with a show of baby juggling, sword swallowing children and human pyramids; contemporary circus company Here and Now perform Perhaps Hope; internationally revered Acrobat perform It’s Not For Everyone; and John-Paul Zaccarini performs his spoken word circus show Head – supported by Spanish physical theatre performers Lusco and Fusco who perform Encontros (Encounters).

Nicole et Martin performs The Fisherman and his Wife – based on a true story by the Brothers Grimm; The Amazing Drumming Monkeys perform their adorable variety show for little people aged one to eight years; Argentinian outfit Mano A Mano come closer to flying than any of us ever will; and Anna Lumb combines absurd comedy and ingenious physical theatre in Super Amazing Giant Girl.

Circus Trick Tease and Three High Acrobatics perform their award-winning smash hit Children are Stinky; Emilie Bloom and Nicci Wilks perform their twisted fairy tale Uncanny Valley; and the savagely funny Jess Love performs Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl.

In theatre; in a moving celebration of shared humanity and the reality of the refugee experience, five refugees who have made Australia their new home perform Light at the End… in the unusual setting of a tunnel tucked away under a railway line; and winner of George Fairfax New Theatre Award, Chamber Made Opera in partnership with Sichuan Conservatory of Music present Between 8 and 9 – The Chengdu Teahouse Project.

Mesmerizing dancer Janette Hoe brings her trademark Butoh-inspired, improvised movement to the Botanical Gardens to perform Under a Willow – a long way from China; and a poetic re-imagining of Isak Dinesen’s The Diver set in an Islamic culture somewhere in the timeless past, CreatAbility perform No Hands.

Taking inspiration from the finest theatre restaurant traditions of the 1970s and 80s, Rod Quantock, The Huxleys, Holly Durant, Simone Page Jones, Gabi Barton and Nick Kay perform Pizazz on a Plate – combining buffet cuisine with a comedic floorshow for a dining experience like no other; and Carlos Cedran takes performers on an extraordinary journey into Philippine history, society, arts, culture and international geo-politics set within the Old Castlemaine Gaol entitled Walk This Way.

The 2017 visual arts program includes a curated exhibition program featuring workshops, conversations and celebratory openings and central Victorian artists exhibiting across 80 studios and galleries.

Two major components in the Festival’s Feature on Philippines program includes; one of the Philippines’ most exciting young artists (whose previous work includes a special commission for Lady Gaga), Leeroy New will create a temporary sculptural installation called La Puerta Del Laberinto (The Door to the Labyrinth) combining visual arts, fashion, film and theatre; and a rare insight into regional contemporary Filipino art production, periSCOPE from 98b COLLABoratory showcases a diverse glimpse into cultural diversity with a specially curated selection of videos and moving image works from the provinces and remote islands of the Philippines archipelago.

A celebratory exhibition taking the viewer on a visual journey championing the creative energies of Yirrkala Print Space, at the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Arts Centre, Balndnhurr – A Lasting Impression showcases the Yolngu respect for clan and country, with many prints relating to the creation of stories and Law as passed on by their ancestors; and artists from places as diverse as Yirrkala, Castlemaine, New Guinea and North Queensland come together for an exhibition exploring themes explicit in the act of mineral exploration and exploitation in The Extractive Frontier – Mining for Art.

A poetic work combining art forms such as walking, tea, and other culinary practices, Big Walk to Golden Mountain Director Jude Anderson invites audiences to follow in the footsteps of thousands from Guangdong migratory passage from Robe in South Australia to the Victorian Goldfields, with two exquisite works to be displayed in two locations.

A playful gardening exercise using interactive video projection and animation pledges to care for the environment and envelop the Phee Broadway Theatre Foyer in The Garden of Earthly Delights from Pierre Proske (Sensory Empire), Jodi Newcombe (Carbon Arts) and The Hub Foundation; and Speaking of That Which We No Longer See gives voice to the past lives of some of Castlemaine’s most iconic buildings, with five artistic interventions taking five sites across the town, curated by Dr Vincent Alessi, created by La Trobe University Visual Arts postgraduate students.

The 2017 Castlemaine State Festival opens tonight and continues to Sunday 26 March. For more information, visit: www.castlemainefestival.com.au for details.

Image: Under a Willow – a long way from China (supplied)