Adelaide Festival reveals 2022 program

AAR-AF22-The-Golden-Cockerel-photo-by-Jean-Louis-FernandezThe 2022 Adelaide Festival program encourages us all to return to live performance with joy and anticipation, and will gather together a community of artists from across Australia and the globe.

The 37th Adelaide Festival program will run over 17 days from Friday 4 to Sunday 20 March. Announced on Tuesday 26 October at Bonython Hall and via livestream, the program offers a total of 71 events in theatre, music, opera, dance, media and visual arts, including uniquely local programs Adelaide Writers’ Week, UKARIA Chamber Landscapes and WOMADelaide.

9 World premieres, 6 Australian premieres and 17 shows playing exclusively in Adelaide will demonstrate the Festival’s tenacity and creative ambition and the adventurous spirit of artists from around the corner and around the world. It is both a showcase of thrilling and contemporary live performance and an opportunity for celebration, reconnection and optimism.

“We welcome audiences to a festival that refuses to curl and shrink, to aim low and take it easy,” said Adelaide Festival Artistic Directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield.

“A feisty and defiant festival that begins with a phalanx of young bodies colliding and hurling each other through space, and ends with a hundred and fifty breathing humans pleading for the pain in our lives to fly away.

“We invite audiences to experience the release of primal dance, of exhilarating performance and how the spark of collegiate music making can jump centuries. It’s all there again for the taking: a celebration of body and soul and how great it is to keep them together.”

Highlights of the 2022 program include:

Electrifying local contemporary circus company Gravity and Other Myths teams up with dance sensations Djuki Mala from North East Arnhem Land to present Macro – featuring a 30-strong acrobatic troupe, a mass choir, ancient Celtic rhythms, fireworks and giant projection scrims in a fun, free family event that will kick off the 2022 Festival with a bang.

Another major event, on Sunday evening of the opening weekend, will be ICEHOUSE: Great Southern Land 2022 – a concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of the band’s legendary anthem. Also on the bill will be yidaki master William Barton and Groote Eylandt’s ARIA-nominated blues and roots artist, Emily Wurramara. Both Macro and ICEHOUSE will play at Adelaide Oval’s Village Green.

As Australia’s most celebrated international opera director, Barrie Kosky is adored for the startling vision he brings to familiar classics. The Adelaide Festival is delighted to invite him back with a work never before seen in Australia, Rimsky-Korsakov’s extraordinary dreamscape, The Golden Cockerel, featuring the voices of operatic superstars Pavlo Hunka, Venera Gimadieva and Andrei Popov – plus the magnificent Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan marks 50 years since the infamous drowning of Dr George Ian Ogilvie Duncan, which triggered an alleged police cover-up, a city-wide scandal, national outrage, a Scotland Yard investigation, pioneering gay law reform but no convictions.

The new oratorio is the product of some of Australia’s most acclaimed creative talents: librettists Alana Valentine and Christos Tsiolkas; composer Joe Twist; director Neil Armfield and choreographer Lewis Major. Based on 30 years of research by local historian Tim Reeves, this long-awaited artistic response to a landmark tragedy is a joint commission between Adelaide Festival, Feast Festival and State Opera South Australia.

STC-The-Picture-of-Dorian-Gray-Eryn-Jean-Norvill-photo-by-Dan-BoudThe zeitgeist relevance of Sydney Theatre Company’s landmark production of The Picture of Dorian Gray is just one of the reasons this remarkable stage adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic had Sydney critics grasping for superlatives and audiences on their feet going wild.

Director Kip Williams and virtuoso performer Eryn Jean Norvill’s interpretation is both a lush period drama and a knowing conversation with the here and now, while ground-breaking use of live and pre-recorded video allows Norvill to play all 26 characters simultaneously until it’s hard to know who is made of flesh and blood.

The Nightline by theatre/sound-artist duo Roslyn Oades and Bob Scott; The Photo Box by Adelaide’s Vitalstatistix and Brink Productions and starring Emma Beech; and Sex and Death_and the Internet from Melbourne artist Samara Hersch, all revolve around communication – over the years, between generations and via differing modes.

An immerse the spectator in their telling: whether in a room full of 70s rotary-dial phones; poring over old photos in a regional South Australian town; talking intimately to a stranger across the age divide. It’s theatre, but not as we know it.

The stellar solo role in Dennis Kelly’s Girls & Boys, with its gearshift between Fleabag-style hilarity and searing horror, gives longstanding TV-drama actor Justine Clarke an opportunity to reveal the full range of her talents, in a State Theatre Company production directed by Mitchell Butel.

Before Prayer for the Living closes the 2022 Festival, classical music will leave a resounding echo with Adelaide audiences. Those witnessing the Chineke! Chamber Ensemble, in Australia for the first time, will be witnessing history.

The unique, UK-based platform for majority Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians, brainchild of Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, arguably UK’s finest exponent of the double bass, is a legend of the BBC Proms.

Their Australian premiere season exclusive to Adelaide, will present two new Australian commissions, from William Barton and Deborah Cheetham, amongst works by Schubert, Prokofiev, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, William Grant Still and Valerie Coleman – in the fine acoustics of the Adelaide Town Hall.

The Town Hall will also host Haydn’s Solar Poetics: Morning, Noon & Night by the Australian Haydn Ensemble, featuring rarely-heard Haydn keyboard concertos and works by the teen-aged Mozart; and accomplished, charismatic classical guitarist Karin Schaupp, solo and in concert with Melbourne’s Flinders Quartet.

Adelaide-based pianist and author Anna Goldsworthy creates a fascinating illustrated recital of Beethoven’s famous ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ in the context of Tolstoy’s misogynist novella of the same name and a recently rediscovered riposte by Tolstoy’s wife Sofya. After Kreutzer is performed by Anna at Ayers House, joined on violin by ex-BBC and current Sydney Symphony Concert Master, Andrew Haveron.

AF22-Blindness-photo-by-Helen-MaybanksThe very special Queen’s Theatre is the venue for Blindness, Donmar Warehouse’s edge-of-your-seat adaptation of Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s novel. Adapted by Simon Stevens, its depiction of the aftermath of a global pandemic makes for riveting, adrenalin-fuelled theatre, told entirely through sound and the voice of the incomparable Juliet Stevenson.

The recently renovated Her Majesty’s Theatre is the venue for a Festival-exclusive major dance work. The Rite of Spring / common ground[s] has an extraordinary pedigree: emanating from Germany, Senegal and the UK.

Produced by the Pina Bausch Foundation, École des Sables and Sadler’s Wells; choreography by the late Pina Bausch, her contemporary Germaine Acogny and Bausch colleague Malou Airaudo, Rite of Spring is Bausch’s towering and unsurpassed response to Stravinsky’s music, recreated in its entirety by a brilliant, hand-picked ensemble of 38 dancers from 14 nations across the African continent.

As he approaches Elder status, Stephen Page continues to expand Bangarra’s horizons and push into ever richer and more complex territory. Bangarra Dance Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company presents Wudjang: Not The Past – brilliantly fusing poetry, live music, text and choreography to create a rich story rooted in Yugambeh country.

Stephanie Lake, possibly the most exciting choreographic talent to emerge in Australian dance in the last decade, brings her eponymous company to the Dunstan Playhouse to present the world premiere of Manifesto, dazzling us with the elemental human rituals of dancing and drumming, to a score by iconoclastic composer Robin Fox.

Another Australian premiere, exclusive to Adelaide, Juliet & Romeo is more dance-theatre than pure dance, and more a hilarious sequel rather than a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s iconic love story: the star-crossed lovers are now 40-ish, approaching a mid-life crisis and in the midst of couples counseling. Produced by UK’s dance/theatre/comedy/circus company Lost Dog, this work has gathered legions of fans and devotees wherever it has been performed around the world.

AF22-AGSA-Dennis-Golding-photo-by-Jack-CookSebastian Goldspink, one of this country’s most dynamic and energetic advocates for contemporary Australian art, brings his singular curatorial skills to Australia’s longest-running survey of contemporary Australian art, the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, in 2022 titled Free/State – a play on SA’s colonial origins. The Biennial will showcase 25 artists from every state and territory across multiple generations with a focus on amplifying and celebrating individual artistic voices.

Neoteric, curated by Julianne Pierce, presents new work by respected local artists with 10-15 years exhibiting experience, working across the fields of photography, painting, performance, sculpture, installation, video, sound, ceramics and mixed media. This Festival-exclusive exhibition represents a harvest of diverse work by creative South Australians.

The Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia presents the kaleidoscopic installations of major British artist Isaac Julien, thrillingly presented across multiple screens; a new body of work – handmade terracotta vessels of mysterious function – developed for the Adelaide Festival by the redoubtable Helen Fuller; and Rite – a seven-hour living sculpture installation/contemporary dance hybrid which can be sampled at random or viewed as a whole, by dancer/choreographer Daniel Jaber.

Skywhales was originally ‘Skywhale’ when the glorious mammal floated above Canberra in 2013. Now, for its Adelaide Festival appearance, Skywhalepapa and his brood has joined in. The lofty pod is subtitled Every heart sings. They will.

AF22-Cupids-Koi-Garden-photo-by-ENESSENESS, for 25 years an Australian collective of artists, musicians, software engineers, industrial designers and thinkers, now bring a gigantic Cupid surrounded by ten oversized goldfish – Cupid’s Koi Garden – to Mount Barker’s Keith Stephenson Park, over six days. A free event for all ages.

Reminiscent of 2020’s A Doll’s House and last year’s The Plastic Bag Store, Rundle Mall again becomes a pop-up environment for free and bizarre-yet-joyous experiences, with Groundswell – designed by Melbourne artist Matthias Schack-Arnott: a six-metre, circular tilting platform equipped with 40,000 illuminated ball bearings that anyone can walk on to become a composer of oceanic soundscapes.

The Summerhouse: With an exciting line-up of events drawing crowds to the beautiful riverbank precinct in the balmy Adelaide autumn, punters can be wowed by Australian entertainment royalty: pop-princess-turned-soul-queen Kate Ceberano, and quirky, bittersweet The Whitlams.

Not to mention Billy Davis & The Good Lords, Genesis Owusu, Josh Cohen, Connan Mockasin, Montaigne, Ladyhawke, Babe Rainbow, Client Liaison, Isaiah Firebrace and plenty more in an enticing and eclectic mix of popular genres.

With the full program to be released in January 2022, nearly 80 major Australian and overseas writers are confirmed for Adelaide Writers’ Week. Among the confirmed speakers are Australian writers Liane Moriarty, Hannah Kent, Annabel Crabb, Christos Tsiolkas, Benjamin Law, Michelle de Kretser, and former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull together in conversation.

Skywhales creator Patricia Piccinini will visit the Writers’ Week Kids’ Tent with her new children’s book Every Heart Sings. International luminaries include Colm Tóibín, Isabel Allende, Lisa Taddeo, Anuk Arudpragasam and Amia Srinivasan.

Exclusive to Adelaide Festival and free to attend, Climate Crisis and the Arts is a one-day event bringing together the arts and sciences to ask what role creativity and the arts can play in inspiring change over the next defining decade.

Opportunities to reflect on Festival themes, current affairs and/or the meaning of life can be seized in The Summerhouse Festival club with Tom Wright and a panel of informed guests at Breakfast with Papers; or in the early evening as we hear from key Adelaide Festival creatives with Festival Forums.

Being COVID Safe is a shared responsibility. We want you to enjoy the Festival and stay safe. Adelaide Festival, including Adelaide Writers’ Week, will be delivered under COVID plans following strict guidelines set by the SA Health. We will provide any necessary updates via website, social media, and/or direct communication with registered attendees and ticket buyers.

Due to the uncertainties of COVID-19, Adelaide Festival will continue to provide a flexible ticketing policy giving patrons more flexibility in the case of illness or border closure. Click here for more information.

The 2022 Adelaide Festival runs Friday 4 to Sunday 20 March. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Images: The Golden Cockerel – photo by Jean Louis Fernandez | The Picture of Dorian Gray – photo by Daniel Boud | Blindness – photo by Helen Maybanks | Dennis Golding – photo by Jack Cook | Cupid’s Koi Garden – photo by ENESS