Big West Festival announces 2015 program

Big West Festival Creative Pathways Heesco and Sebastian FranszCelebrating its tenth festival, the biennial Big West Festival is opening up its house – literally – throughout Footscray from 20 – 28 November 2015.

Located in the heart of Footscray at the Big West Village (corner of Paisley and French Streets), HOUSE will be the hub and centre piece of the nine day festival that will feature almost 70 events (over 50 are FREE) presented by over 350 artists in 12 locations throughout Footscray.

Curated by Big West’s Artistic Director, Marcia Ferguson, designed by architects (NMBW Architecture Studio), quality controlled by women who have experienced homelessness (Women’s Property Initiatives), built by students at VU and Monash University, HOUSE is a theatre, a prototype dwelling for social housing services and in 2016 – a home.

Ferguson explains that Big West Festival has always been about the west and the meanings this place holds for its residents, “Chatting to artists and communities during the 2013 festival, we discovered a strong common thread – housing,” said Ferguson. “The 2015 Festival grew out of these conversations and a number of artists were inspired to explore the inner and outer world HOUSE – our HOUSE is now your HOUSE.”

Since 1997 Big West Festival has pushed the artistic envelope to create programs that challenge perceptions and unite isolated communities through arts and culture – it is now one of the country’s most respected community-based arts events and this year boasts a fabulous mix of music, theatre, art, film, dance and outdoor activities.

Big West Festival opening night at HOUSE will feature an array of astonishing, spectacular performances in the centre of Footscray that answer the call of industrial sirens (The Siren Event – a large-scale orchestration of vocal, instrumental, musical and sonic forces); massed choirs (No Excuses! featuring a very large choir collaboration including School of Hard Knocks); and immersive visual spectacles (Dwelling – an open-air theatre experience that offers redemption to anyone who has ever felt homeless within their own home). Other shows are set in a hutch (The Hutch), a wardrobe (Wolf Boy and Zombie Dad) and a tiny caravan (Little Wooden Caravan: Shared Table).

Nicholson Street Mall and surrounding areas in Footscray will come to live with over 40 outdoor performances and visual artworks installed for the Festival’s Street Party from Born In A Taxi’s angels in a glass box (For Heaven’s Sake) to the new wave of giant roaming Snuff Puppets; a rocking music program on the Street Party Stage to the ghoulish horror house of Blood! Death! Show!; and from hoolahooping with Donna Sparx to dancing on DanceRunway … or enjoy a quiet moment over a cup of tea in the 100% recycled Tea House.

This year’s Big West Festival performance program is exploding with new local works, including Neighbours – a guided walk through public spaces and homes; Mefetehe – a new comedy by Ethiopian writer and director: Tesfaye Gebrehana; 7412 Kilometres of Relations – a work about Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement; As Told By the Boys Who Fed Me Apples – about the only Australian horse to come home from the First World War; The Graceful Giraffe Cannot Become a Monkey – adaptation of Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol; and The Trung Sisters –  presented in newly refurbished Rotunda at Railway Reserve.

Visual and public art will be featured with a huge range of works presented at VU at Metro West. Other projects include the collaborative street art installation project, Script, that celebrates writing as one of our main vehicles of communication and renowned street artist Baby Guerilla will depict a woman flying through space in a moment of freedom and joy.

The festival will wrap up with Full House at the Footscray Park Bowling Club, a raw, noisy, electric and soulful celebratory night curated Parvyn Singh (Bombay Royale) and Robert Bundle (elder, songwriter and musician) – it will feature an eclectic range of music from latin to soul, rock to hip-hop and blues to disco, including Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, Kutcha Edwards, San Lazaro and DJ Manchild.

The 2015 Big West Festival runs 20 – 28 November 2015. For more information and complete program, visit: for details.

Image: Creative Pathways Artwork by Heesco and Sebastian Fransz