Festival of Live Art

tears-before-bedtimeA new festival in Melbourne is offering artists the opportunity to explore their relationship with audiences at the Festival of Live Art (FOLA).

The creative hubs of Arts House, Theatre Works, Footscray Community Arts Centre and Federation Square will present a program that features 40 contemporary and community  events, providing opportunities for the audience and artists alike to create, observe, and participate.

The only live art event of its kind in Melbourne, FOLA shines a spotlight on artists making work directly in front of an audience in space and time. There will be performances on the phone, performances in the street, performances on websites and performances with one audience member at a time.

The program features local and international artists working across multiple artforms including: Song-­Ming Ang (SG), an artist whose practice deals exclusively with sound and music; a Live Art Escort Service by triage live art collective; the world premiere of a new Ranters Theatre production created by Beth Buchanan; and an interactive installation created by Sam Routledge and Martyn Coutts in collaboration with model railway hobbyists.

The festival also includes a new project by South Australian theatre maker and conversationalist, Emma Beech and Julie Vulcan explores the fine lines between security and fragility; coffee, stories and rituals from performance poet Alia Gabres; a live public artwork along and across the Yarra River; a new dance work by Nat Cursio performed in her middle room; and Yana Alana’s new show performed in a bed – Tears Before Bedtime.

Commencing on Friday 14 March, the opening weekend will feature events curated by Footscray Community Arts Centre including a new annual symposium, Art & Encounter by artists Amy Spiers and James Oliver that features an international key note aimed at generating public discussion and rigorous debate on key issues of practice for socially-­engaged, participatory and live art today.

The middle weekend will be programmed by Arts House and utilises all spaces within their three venues including Tristan Meecham’s Game Show – a show biz spectacle that examines one man’s desperate pursuit of fame and what he is willing to sacrifice for a chance at the big time. Each night, 50 contestants with no performance experience will compete live on stage for the chance to take home a grand showcase of prizes: the host’s very own possessions.

Theatre Works curates the final week including 2013 Edinburgh Fringe First Award winner, Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model -­ an audacious, provocative protest against flagrant attempts to sexualise and commodify childhood for profit. Award-­winning artist Bryony Kimmings and her nine year old niece, Taylor play the global tween machine at its own game by inventing dinosaur-­loving, bike riding, tuna pasta-­eating, alternative pop star Catherine Bennett.

Also featured on the final weekend is The 24 Hour Experience: Melbourne -­ 24 live works that take place on the hour, every hour, over 24 hours. Inspired by the poetic minutiae of everyday life, each show unfolds at a different site in the CBD. Under the curatorship of Gorkem Acaroglu, a plethora of community organisations and leading Victorian artists have worked to create a living documentary featuring lesser-­heard perspectives on the city.

In explaining the inspiration for a Festival of Live Art, Angharad Wynne-­Jones, Creative Producer, Arts House said: “FOLA – as a high density collaborative programming event is a great way to cast a light on the artform breakers, the risk takers, the mavericks, the socially engaged and the determinedly experimental.”

“Together, we can create and participate in a trans Melbourne event that will change the way we think about what art is and could be.”

Of the collaboration between the three organisations, Jade Lillie, CEO, Footscray Community Arts Centre said: “It has been a fabulous experience working with Theatre Works and Arts House to provide impetus for audiences to explore our different contexts and ways of working across Melbourne.”

“We are totally enthusiastic about sharing audiences, engaging new audiences and exploring what Live Arts practice is across the three different spaces and programs.”

Theatre Works Creative Producer, Daniel Clarke says “I’m really excited about artists exploring their relationship with audiences. Smashing down the fourth wall. Taking art out into the streets, and enabling Melbourne audiences to experience a diverse spectrum of artistic practice.”

The Festival of Live Art runs from 14 – 30 March 2014. For more information and complete program, visit: www.fola.com.au for details.

Image: Bec Matthews and Sarah Ward in Tears before Bedtime – by Peter Leslie