Asia TOPA Connected brings some of the boldest moments of the 2020 festival to your fingertips

ASIA-TOPA-Connected-The-Planet---A-Lament---photo-by-Gregory-Lorenzutti To continue engaging with works featured in the second edition of Asia TOPA, audiences now have the opportunity to delve into highlights of the festival, which ran from January to March this year, in digital offering Asia TOPA Connected, which is part of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Together With You program.

In a series of archival performances, mini documentaries and podcasts, some of the works featured in Asia TOPA Connected include: The Planet – A Lament, Metal, Samsara, The Seen and Unseen, Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep and Virtual Intimacy.

“Asia TOPA Connected brings some of the boldest moments and brightest imaginations of the 2020 festival to your fingertips,” says Asia TOPA Creative Director Stephen Armstrong. “Reboot your memory of the live experience with archival performances, and discover more about the artists and their creative process in specially commissioned mini documentaries. If you missed these moments during the festival, this is your chance to celebrate some of the most creative imaginations working today in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Due to the success of the 2020 Asia TOPA festival, bringing back these special moments in a digital capacity will allow local audiences to reengage and reconnect with their favourite works, or catch events they missed. Global audiences have missed out on confirmed tours of these productions following the COVID-19 shutdowns so this initiative will also bring the works back into focus.

Across the three-month long festival there were over 65,000 paying attendances in Melbourne; a 926,146 total attendance (a 10% increase from the 2017 festival); 960 artists involved (43% of which were international artists); 351 performances and events; 23 newly-created works or commissions created specifically for Asia TOPA; the work of artists from 22 different countries and regions was represented; and there were 20 sell-out seasons across the festival.

There were also 56 cultural venues and community gathering spaces involved throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria; 72 Australian cultural partners; 50 international cultural partners; 173 Australian Asian Diaspora artists; 30 Australian First Nations artists; 18 world premiere seasons and 15 Australian premiere seasons. The Public Program saw 7,751 people attend 78 events that connected with 65 Asia TOPA programs and 50% of audience members who attended the festival came from culturally diverse backgrounds.

For more information about Asia TOPA Connected, visit: for details.

Image: The Planet – A Lament – photo by Gregory Lorenzutti

Asia TOPA Connected digital offerings:

The Planet – A Lament
An Asia TOPA co-commission with Theater der Welt and Holland Festival
In what was a world premiere season, Indonesian playwright, theatre and film director Garin Nugroho created an extraordinary new work featuring wild dance and striking film, set to an evocative song cycle from a 14-voice choir. In collaboration with Australian theatre luminaries Michael Kantor and Helpmann Award-winning designer Anna Tregloan, The Planet – A Lament tells the story of the world being created anew in the Indonesian archipelago following a devastating environmental disaster. This archival performance will be available from 11.00am – Monday 13 July.

An Asia TOPA co-commission with Théâtre de la Ville
In another world premiere season, five dancers and eight metal-heads shared the stage in this meeting of cultures, art forms, languages and belief systems in Metal. Co-created by Lucy Guerin and Ensemble Tikoro’s Robi Rusdiana, the performance sees heavy metal and traditional throat singing collide with contemporary Australian dance in an encounter that ultimately transforms them both, as the ghosts of tradition merge with music and dance to invent new mythologies for a globalised world. This archival performance, including footage from the creative development in Indonesia and interviews from Guerin and the artists, will be available from 11.00am – Monday 13 July.

An Asia TOPA co-commission with Bagra Foundation
In this documentary video, audiences will learn about the creation of Samsara and immerse themselves in the energy of the work with access to performance and rehearsal footage, behind the scenes action and interviews with the creators and performers. Samsara was an epic world premiere during Asia TOPA created and performed by international dance artists Aakash Odedra (UK/India) and Hu Shenyuan (China), with live music by Nicki Wells, merging mythological storytelling with personal experience touching on the vast histories, philosophies and cultures of China and India in a breathtaking work of dance and storytelling. This documentary will be available from 11.00am – Monday 13 July.

The Seen and Unseen
An Asia TOPA co-commission with The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (Singapore)
In this short documentary video, audiences will be privy to the creative process of adapting Kamila Andini’s original film for the stage. The Seen and Unseen is a mesmerising convergence of contemporary Indonesian dance and physical storytelling. Using pre-existing production and behind the scenes footage captured in Bali, Jakarta, Singapore and Melbourne, the documentary captures the unique beauty of the production, and the rigour and intent of the key artistic collaborators: Kamila Andini, Ida Ayu Wayan Satyani, Adena Jacobs, Eugyeene Teh and Jenny Hector. The Seen and Unseen stage work premiered in Singapore before being presented in Melbourne fort Asia TOPA This documentary will be available from 11.00am – Monday 13 July.

Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep
An Asia TOPA co-commission with The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (Singapore)
In this documentary video, audiences will learn about the development of Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep – a co-production between Melbourne’s Chamber Made and CultureLink Singapore which had its world premiere at Asia TOPA. There will be exclusive performance and rehearsal footage, some behind the scenes action and interviews with the directors. Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep is a sonic portrait of avant-garde music icon Margaret Leng Tan in an evocative exploration of memory, time, control and loss that sweeps across the senses. It combines spoken and recorded text, projected images and original music for prepared piano, toy piano, toys and percussion by Tan’s long-term collaborator Erik Griswold. This documentary will be available from 11.00am – Monday 13 July.

Virtual Intimacy
An Asia-TOPA co-commission with National Theatre Taipei
In this documentary video, audiences will learn about the development of Virtual Intimacy – a world premiere work by Very Theatre (Taipei) and ActNow Theatre (Adelaide) exploring queer hook-up culture, the relationships people have with technology and the way technology shapes our connection with others. It will also feature performance, rehearsal and behind the scenes footage plus interviews with the creators, and a short trailer of the work. This documentary will be available from 11.00am – Monday 13 July.

Asia TOPA 2020 Podcast Series:
The Asia TOPA 2020 Podcast Series invites audiences to connect more deeply with the artists and works that were part of the 2020 festival. The nine episodes include conversations about the interplay of art and politics through to explorations of art making whereby listeners will be able to explore the broader issues that shape contemporary daily life in the Asia Pacific region.