2014 Adelaide Festival

Roman TradegiesThe 2014 Adelaide Festival opens tonight and is bursting with glittering debuts, welcome returns, national treasures and local favourites, along with Adelaide Writers’ Week and the biennial Artists’ Week and Adelaide International visual art events. Australian Arts Review takes a look at eight festival events worth considering.

Fugitive, School Dance and Girl Asleep
Windmill Theatre form a unique trilogy of rites-of-passage stories by Helpmann Award-nominated writer/director team Matthew Whittet and Rosemary Myers. The adrenaline of the alpha male, the pain of the loser, and the dark inner world of the teenage girl underscore these three distinct works each delivering an outrageous, hilarious, painful, violent and ultimately celebratory experience.

Am I
A stunning collision of dance and live music that investigates the quintessential meaning of ‘I’. Am I my tribe? Am I my genetic blueprint? Am I a random cosmological consequence? Shaun Parker’s gripping choreography is beautifully set against composer Nick Wales’ rich tapestry of reinvented world music in an arresting collaboration performed by fourteen extraordinary musicians and dancers, including guest artist Shantala Shivalingappa.

Roman Tragedies
Staged for the first time in Australia and exclusive to Adelaide, this is a festival must-see as visionary director Ivo van Hove presents Shakespeare’s power trilogy Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra as a sprawling and immersive multimedia spectacular. Shattering theatrical conventions, the audience is invited on stage and into the thick of this political drama that frames personal ambition and national interest through our obsession with the 24 hour news cycle.

Adelaide Writers’ Week
The 2014 program brings together some of the finest writers and thinkers of our time. This year the program celebrates emerging writers and pays tribute to some of contemporary literature’s most renowned voices. Some acclaimed and sometimes controversial thinkers have been invited to talk about the great issues of our time – religion, science, poverty and war. Fiction and poetry make up the core of the program, with visiting writers taking from the gold mines of Otago to colonial Congo and into the dark heart of the contemporary family.

Worlds in Collision
Adelaide International 2014 features artists who suggest new ways of modelling and imagining the world, who map the edges of what is known, and who investigate the potentials of what might lie beyond. Worlds in Collision looks at technological, political, psychological and psychedelic exploration, and the ways artists imagine alternatives to arrive at new understandings of potential and transformation. Time travel, digital frontiers, abandoned Star Wars sets, near-death experiences, new physics and second moons herald the foundations of this diverse and extraordinary selection of artists and artworks, shown across four sites.

Green Porno
Screen icon Isabella Rossellini turns her passion for wildlife into a charmingly offbeat performance exploring the sex lives of insects and sea creatures. From the bedroom behaviours of deadly spiders to worms, bees and dragonflies, nature is where she’s found the juciest scandals! Following her award-winning short film series, Rossellini’s wonderfully odd and playful approach to the private loves of animals presents biology as the greatest show on earth.

Needles and Opium
Revered theatre maker Robert Lepage revisits a magically staged masterpiece more than 20 years after its first production. A fascinating and thoughtful performance, Needles and Opium explores the complex relationships between displacement, drug addiction and creative drive. Revealed through the lives of Parisian poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, American jazz legend Miles Davis and Lepage’s own journey, this work is brilliantly conceived and astonishingly performed.

River of Fundament
A radical reinvention of Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings, this epic film is the latest work by world renowned art visionary Matthew Barney in collaboration with composer Jonathan Bepler. Barney and Bepler fuse narrative cinema, live performance, sculpture and opera, reconstructing Mailer’s hypersexual story of Egyptian gods and the seven stages of death alongside the rise and fall of the American car industry. Alluring, authentic and intense, this vast, multidimensional experience is interspersed with remarkable live performances filmed over six years.

The 2014 Adelaide Festival continues through to 16 March. For more information, visit: www.adelaidefestival.com.au for details.

Image: Roman Tragedies – by Jan Versweyveld