Brisbane Festival has revealed Artistic Director David Berthold’s first program – an unprecedented line-up boasting 456 shows, seven world and 13 Australian premieres, four new commissions and a new Festival Village at South Bank named Arcadia that will occupy a site five times the size of previous years.
A stunning mix of the meaty and merry, embracing dance, theatre, circus, cabaret, opera, hip hop, film, visual arts and more, will see Brisbane Festival circumnavigate the globe, bringing some of the most provocative and innovative performances ever to grace Australian stages from 11 countries and five continents.
From the USA, Flexn is a new, politically charged work from street dance pioneer Regg Roc and Peter Sellars, arguably America’s greatest living theatre and opera director, created in an era of unrest following the rulings on Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. Exclusive to Brisbane Festival, Flexn is accompanied by Beautiful One Day, which tells the very Australian story of the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee in police custody on Palm Island and the subsequent uprisings.
To complement Flexn’s Brooklyn roots is a collection of Australian street-inspired shows: Hot Brown Honey – all female feats of hip hop passion and politics; beat boxing virtuoso Tom Thum’s collaboration with Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) Thum Prints; and RAW Dance Company’s free opening day dance-off RAPCity.
Four outstanding productions from or inspired by Democratic Republic of Congo will shine a light on the war-ravaged yet vivacious nation. All premieres and exclusive to Brisbane Festival, they include: The staggeringly good Coup Fatal by dance theatre living legend Alain Platel, countertenor Serge Kakudji and 13 musicians from Kinshasa; Macbeth recast with Congolese warlords by provocative South African director Brett Bailey; Le Cargo by dancer/choreographer Faustin Linyekula; and Prize Fighter – a world-premiere Congo-to-Brisbane story by one of Australia’s most exciting young playwrights.
To mark its 50th anniversary of independence, Singapore is also under the spotlight with five exclusive shows: The Importance of Being Earnest by Singapore’s ‘sexiest theatre company” W!LD RICE; a compelling one woman show, Best Of; and music courtesy of T’ang Quartet, Margaret Leng Tan and Charlie Lim.
Brisbane Festival Artistic Director David Berthold said that some big subjects would be explored, including colonial legacies, environmental issues and the relationship between race and authority, but among the serious conversations there would be some serious fun.
“A festival should offer a myriad of pathways. People can see single shows that catch the eye, but part of the exhilaration is to see shows that connect and cumulate,” said Mr Berthold. “We are creating fabulous festival hubs where everyone can gather, eat, drink and converse. Do not miss out on three weeks of new worlds and magical memories that will lift your spirits beyond the drum and dust of daily life.”
“The new Brisbane Festival Village – Arcadia – will have two big performance tents, fabulous food and four bars, games, 3D chalk installations, sensational shows, mind-blowing music and much more. Club Swizzle and Fear & Delight – the newest, delicious, decadent shows from the makers of La Soirée and LIMBO – play nightly in the two tents.”
Cabaret and circus lovers can also indulge in the boogie wonderland of Velvet with Marcia Hines, the award-winning family show FLOWN from the UK’s Pirates of the Carabina at The Courier-Mail Piazza and Il Ritorno – a world premiere work from Brisbane’s incredible, internationally celebrated company Circa at the Brisbane Powerhouse.
Music lovers can revel in nightly shows in The Spiegeltent including Megan Washington and 4ZZZ is Forty – a star-studded celebration of the last four decades – and opera experiences from the baroque to romantic eras and beyond. A State of Grace: The Music of Tim and Jeff Buckley will feature Martha Wainwright, Casper Clausen, Willy Mason, Camille O’Sullivan, Steve Kilbey and Cold Specks, led by Gary Lucas with his band Gods and Monsters.
Tim Winton, Bernard Fanning, Katie Noonan, Jessica Watson, Professor Iain McCalman and Ignatius Jones will join forces for the world premiere of Rise for the Oceans – a multimedia tribute to Australia’s marine ecosystem.
Theatre Republic at QUT’s Creative Industries Precinct at Kelvin Grove, will once again be a pulsing festival hub – bringing an insurgence of thought-provoking and politically charged works with headline acts including Adrienne Truscott. Audiences are invited to linger in the Theatre Republic garden bar with a nightly programof free music and artist chats, and tempting artisan tastes.
“There is so much more in the 2015 program – backyard film screenings, artist talks, the National Indigenous Theatre Forum, art and photography exhibitions and countless free performances, with Sunsuper Riverfire capping it all spectacularly,” said Berthold. “The best way to discover something for you is to hit the Brisbane Festival website or come down to Arcadia at South Bank and immerse yourself in its wonders.”
The Brisbane Festival runs from 5 to 26 September 2015. For more information, visit: www.brisbanefestival.com.au for details.
Image: Circa’s Il Ritorno – photo by Damien Bredberg