Adelaide Festival launches 2018 program

ADL FEST The Lost and Found OrchestraA festival program rich with Australian and international voices, bold new visions and contemporary theatre classics, the Adelaide Festival has launched its 2018 program with Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healy returning to the helm for their second year as Joint Artistic Directors.

The stellar program features 48 theatre, music, opera, dance, film and visual arts events alongside Adelaide Writers’ Week and WOMADelaide. The line up includes four world premieres, 14 Australian premieres and 13 events exclusive to Adelaide over 17 days from 2 March 2018.

“We are so proud to be Artistic Directors of the greatest arts festival in the country, indeed one of the great festivals of the world,” said Armfield and Healy. “In 2018 we have programmed works of mighty scale and whispering intimacy – all of them fired by an ambition to enthral, challenge, awe and inspire. Works by the finest artists in the world today; works you will remember for the rest of your life. There’s no doubt – Adelaide in March is the place to be.”

The festival begins with a resounding bang as The Lost and Found Orchestra kicks off the opening weekend with a family friendly extravaganza at Elder Park over two nights. The brainchild of Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, whose percussion extravaganza STOMP became an international phenomenon after its sell-out success at the 1992 Adelaide Fringe, The Lost and Found Orchestra will be massively scaled up for the 2018 Adelaide Festival.

As well as using instruments adapted from traffic cones, water coolers, saws and kitchen sinks, the orchestra’s glorious music will be accompanied by physical comedians, aerialists and massed phalanxes of young and old local musicians, making it one of the most spectacular shows ever to hit Adelaide.

In an Australian premiere exclusive to the Adelaide Festival, Neil Armfield’s production of Brett Dean’s Hamlet for Glyndebourne Festival Opera sees Shakespeare’s greatest play given new life as a darkly complex opera. With a stellar international cast, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s Nicholas Carter as conductor and the State Opera of South Australia chorus, as well as a semi-chorus featuring The Song Company, Hamlet will be a major musical and theatrical experience in the Adelaide Festival Theatre.

Offering the kind of exclusive and epic theatrical experience synonymous with the Festival, the thrilling Kings of War from Toneelgroep Amsterdam (last in Adelaide for the legendary Roman Tragedies) offers an impressive, contemporary compression of Shakespeare’s Henry V, Henry VI (Part I, II and III) and Richard III. Performed by a cast of 17 extraordinary actors, the interaction of live action and video reveals the disparate ways in which war is manipulated by those seeking or maintaining power, and the bloodshed that their sinister manoeuvring produces.

Other theatrical highlights include Ex Machina’s modern classic The Far Side of the Moon, finally coming to Adelaide after dazzling audiences in 45 cities worldwide. The greatest and most acclaimed work by one of the world’s greatest theatre makers, Canadian Robert Lepage, The Far Side of the Moon stars Yves Jacques in a virtuosic solo performance.

The musical highlights are crowned by a quartet of phenomenal women, the first of whom needs no introduction. Grace Jones returns to Adelaide after 36 years, for one night only. One of the world’s most legendary live performers, her most recent concerts have had audiences and critics enraptured by her musicianship, mystique, and performance energy.

Grammy Award winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant is hailed as the voice of her generation, and the successor to no less than Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Salvant makes her Australian debut in a single performance exclusive to the Adelaide Festival.

Kate Miller-Heidke joins the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for the Adelaide premiere of some of her biggest hits and most loved compositions. Miller-Heidke, who will perform for one night only, is renowned for her showmanship and her live concerts continue to gather her new fans around the country.

Completing the quartet of Festival divas is the dazzling Swedish mezzo-soprano, Anne Sofie von Otter in recital at Adelaide Town Hall and at UKARIA Cultural Centre. As utterly at ease soaring over the Berlin Philharmonic as quietly caressing a microphone with a Joni Mitchell ballad, von Otter possesses a beauty of tone, an instinct for phrasing and word-colour that is without parallel.

One of the greatest choirs in the world, Rundfunkchor Berlin, comes exclusively to the 2018 Adelaide Festival and will sing the magnificent Brahms German Requiem. But this is no ordinary concert. Until they reveal their radiant voices the performers could have walked in with you from the street. For the seventy minutes of human requiem, the audience is literally inside the music as the choir move amongst them singing Brahms’ masterwork about death that offers sublime comfort for the living.

Dance highlights include a solo farewell performance by Akram Khan, arguably the greatest male dancer in the world. An Australian premiere, exclusive to Adelaide and co-commissioned by the Adelaide Festival, XENOS is inspired by the myth of Prometheus and marks the end of Akram’s 30-year performance career that began in 1988 when he performed as part of Peter Brook’s Mahabharata for the 1988 Adelaide Festival.

Australian Simon Stone and Belvoir Theatre bring their thrilling adaptation of Seneca’s bloody tragedy Thyestes to the Space Theatre. In his landmark production Stone has disinterred Seneca’s first-century version of Thyestes and brought it 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.

In Us/Them we find ourselves at the ghastly 2004 siege by Chechen terrorists of a public school in Beslan. Created by Belgian youth theatre company BRONKS, and directed by Carly Wijs, this extraordinary piece tells the story entirely through the clear eyes of a girl and a boy who were on the inside. Their innocence in the face of adult atrocity is playfully rendered and powerfully moving. Us/Them was the hit of the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe and comes exclusively to Adelaide after a sell-out season at London’s National Theatre.

Alice Oswald’s universally lauded contemporary poetic masterpiece Memorial personalises the deaths of the 215 soldiers named in Homer’s Iliad. Director Chris Drummond of Adelaide’s Brink Productions has secured the poet’s exclusive collaboration in this theatrical adaptation on a gigantic scale to mark the Centenary of the 1918 Armistice, featuring the great Helen Morse, a live score by Golden Globe nominated composer Jocelyn Pook, and a massive cast of local volunteers.

Acclaimed Palestinian director Amir Nizar Zuabi and the ShiberHur Theatre Company will appear for the first time in Australia with their music theatre production AZZA for the 2018 Adelaide Festival. AZZA is the Arabic word for the three-day period of mourning that follows a death. Amir Nizar Zuabi invites audiences to follow one family whose communal grief, shared history and ancient rituals open a window into the soul of a community.

As a companion piece to AZZA, director Amir Nizar Zuabi also gives us TAHA – a beautiful solo tour de force, written and performed by Amer Hlehel, who tells the life story of the great Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali. The tale of hope, terror and displacement, grief and joy, is as huge as the staging is humble. The sensuous, hypnotic language of Taha’s verse infuses the monologue and is delivered so vividly you will feel you lived alongside him.

The Great War by Dutch live animation company Hotel Modern, whose moving production of Kamp was a sell-out at the 2013 Festival, gives audiences an immersive experience of a World War One battle told through live action film. Adapted from lost letters of a French soldier to his mother, the miniature worlds created on stage and projected to giant screens confront the horror of war with a kind of epic intimacy.

Recreated at every performance, miniature soldiers, sawdust, rusty nails, parsley and other household paraphernalia become a battleground in the French countryside, backed by composer/foley artist Arthur Sauer’s compelling soundtrack of explosions, gunfire and birdsong.

In the Club shines a searing torch into the darkest corners of our football clubs. One of Australia’s most awarded playwrights, Patricia Cornelius uses the real-life testimony of female AFL fans to create visceral theatre, inhabiting a space somewhere between documentary and Greek tragedy. Geordie Brookman directs the State Theatre Company of South Australia’s brilliant ensemble of actors in a work written specifically for them.

For the first time in its 45-year history, South Australia’s Patch Theatre joins the Adelaide Festival to present the world premiere of Can You Hear Colour? While it’s commonplace to talk about a ‘colourful’ score, for some people it is literality true. In a joyous exploration of music and sound, Patch Theatre, renowned around the world for their imaginative work for 4 -8 year old children presents a kaleidoscopic little ‘opera’ directed by Naomi Edwards with music by award-winning theatre, opera and screen composer Alan John.

In 2015 Felix Riebel, lead singer of The Cat Empire, took up residence in the Pilbara to spend time on the land and hear the stories of the Yindjibarndi community. Out of it came Spinifex Gum – an album, a live performance and a shared passion to ignite change. Powerful in content and style, a series of unique, topical and inspiring new songs have been developed in collaboration with Marliya – an ensemble of Aboriginal and Torres Strait teenage singers from Gondwana Choirs and guest artists including Ollie McGill, Briggs and Emma Donovan. This stirring, joyous and thrilling concert will be performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre for one night only.

Chamber Landscapes returns to the 2018 Adelaide Festival with a glorious new program curated by Iain Grandage (composer and musician on The Secret River). A festival within the Festival, Compassion: Chamber Landscapes is five days of some of the world’s finest musicians playing at the beloved UKARIA Cultural Centre at Mount Barker summit in the Adelaide Hills.

Featuring work written during or in response to times of human conflict, UKARIA will glow with the voices of Anne Sofie von Otter, soprano Taryn Fiebig, Lior, and the playing of Australia Ensemble, Balanescu Quartet, and the fabulous Goldner String Quartet, Tinalley String Quartet, and Australian String Quartets.

At UKARIA and also for one night at Adelaide Town Hall, Nigel Westlake’s radiant music and Lior’s gloriously soulful voice come together in Compassion – an uplifting concert which unites Islam and Judaism in a joyful celebration of music’s ability to unite people across the divides of race and fear.

Also in Adelaide Town Hall, The Balanescu Quartet Retrospective brings a set list of the celebrated quartet’s new music and old to the Adelaide Festival. London based, but Romanian to the core, lead violinist Alexander Balanescu’s illustrious quartet combines jazz, classical and world influences, and can name drop Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and Stateless alongside its classical collaborators.

In the centennial year of legendary American composer Leonard Bernstein, conductor John Mauceri, one of Bernstein’s protégées and a leading interpreter of his work, leads the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in Bernstein on Stage! An Australian premiere exclusive to the 2018 Adelaide Festival, this performance includes a definitive selection of his work including West Side Story, Candide, and On the Town.

One of the most talked about dance events of 2017, Helpmann Award-winning Split confirms choreographer Lucy Guerin’s status as one of the country’s most fearless and original artists. In a mesmerising physical drama, two women – one clothed, one unclothed – move in synchronicity while the tension escalates and the allotted dance space shrinks.

Bangarra Dance Theatre, led by Artistic Director Stephen Page, brings an acclaimed new contemporary work to the stage, one of the greatest in its 30 year span. Bennelong explores a tumultuous time of Australia’s history – first contact – and the life of one of our most significant Aboriginal Elders, Woollarawarre Bennelong, a Wongal man of the Eora Nation. Unravelling the story of the man reveals Bennelong’s legacy and his influence on the past, present and future of Australia’s people.

The Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, held every two years since 1990, is the longest-standing event of its kind for contemporary Australian art. The 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds is curated by Erica Green, Director of Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art.

This year’s exhibition has combined a series of significant artists from the Australian art world together with fascinating emerging artists; together they promise to build on the formidable reputation the Adelaide Biennial has gathered over its distinguished history.

The world premiere exhibition of Waqt al-Tagheer – Times of change is presented by the eleven collective and co-curated by Nur Shkembi and Abdul-Rahman Abdullah. It showcases the works of leading Muslim artists from across the nation to challenge the dominant debate on Islamic culture in Australia today. Led by internationally acclaimed artist Khaled Sabsabi, the collective includes four times Archibald Prize finalist Abdul Abdullah.

For this, the eleven collective’s first group exhibition, they have put together a striking collection of beautiful, articulate works examining moments of migration, political upheaval, or very personal epiphany that will feed your understanding of the Australian Muslim experience.

The beating heart of the Adelaide Festival returns, with an exciting line-up of events at The Palais sure to draw crowds to the spectacular Adelaide Riverbank Precinct in 2018. Featuring the soulful funk of Lee Fields, UK electronic music duo Mount Kimbie, Brooklyn four-piece and acclaimed indie act Grizzly Bear, queer icon and riveting live performer Perfume Genius, firebrand trumpet-playing vocalist from The Cat Empire – Harry James Angus, treasured and influential singer-songwriter Archie Roach, the country blues of Vikki Thorn of The Waifs and the angelic harmonies of Lior, The Palais will be the festival hub, with its own eclectic brand of good times and great tunes, right on the banks of the Torrens River.

The 2018 Adelaide Festival runs 2 – 18 March. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: The Lost and Found Orchestra – photo by Steve McNicholas