OzAsia Festival 2021 program celebrates Asian Australian talent on new level

OzAsia-Double-Delcious-Valerie-Berry-photo-by-Clare-HawleyOzAsia Festival 2021 will feature more than 300 artists in what is expected to be the world’s most significant showcase of Asian Australian talent, with tickets now on sale for an exciting range of contemporary works.

Held from 21 October to 7 November, OzAsia Festival will present around 100 performances and includes 11 world premieres and two Australian premieres across more than 30 ticketed and free events – everything from theatre, music, dance and comedy to film, literature and visual art.

The festival returns to Adelaide Festival Centre following last year’s online offering, and will mark the first full-scale OzAsia Festival to be delivered under the leadership of its new Artistic Director, Annette Shun Wah.

“OzAsia Festival 2021 takes place at a critical moment for Australia’s engagement with Asia, and there’s no better time to ensure the people who best embody that connection – Australians of Asian background – lead the conversation,” said Shun Wah.

“This year’s distinctive and forward-looking program presents a wealth of exceptional talent and exciting new voices. I invite audiences to enjoy exploring the many treats we have in store, and I can’t wait to see you all in October.”

World premiere performances include The Demon by award-winning novelist Michael Mohammed Ahmad, who will debut his talents as a playwright at OzAsia Festival 2021.

Internationally renowned martial arts performer Maria Tran will present her new theatre work Action Star, and choreographer/dancer Alison Currie and award-winning Japanese soloist Yui Kawaguchi will perform in their first collaboration together for Somewhere, Everywhere, Nowhere.

OzAsia-The-Long-Walk-photo-by-Wendell-TeodoroIndonesian-Australian artist Jumaadi is reinvigorating the ancient art of shadow play for Perahu-Perahu, while The Long Walk will see boundary-pushing choreographer/filmmaker Sue Healey combine dance and drone footage for a livestream from the rugged yet beautiful coastline of Robe, South Australia.

Adelaide audiences will also be the first to enjoy When by seasoned OzAsia Festival performer Mindy Meng Wang, who will combine film and live music to share emotional stories of life during lockdown.

Storytellers will be the focus of two unique experiences at this year’s festival. Double Delicious will see a stellar cast including renowned author Benjamin Law and celebrity chef Elizabeth Chong reveal the secrets of dishes significant to their lives, while Open Homes immerses audiences in the personal and moving accounts of everyday people who have chosen to call Adelaide home.

“I am delighted to see the return of this unique festival which has, over the years, been embraced by so many Australians and friends in the Asia Pacific region,” said The Honourable Steven Marshall MP, Premier of South Australia.

“By showcasing the best of contemporary art experiences from Asia and fostering positive relationships between Australia and its neighbouring countries, OzAsia Festival provides major opportunities for artists to play their part in connecting people and communities.”

“The Government of South Australia is proud to support OzAsia Festival 2021, and I congratulate Adelaide Festival Centre, Annette Shun Wah, and everyone involved in making it possible,” said Mr Marshall.

Major events at Her Majesty’s Theatre include Ahimsa: Meditations on Gandhia heartfelt tribute celebrating the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, and Hand to Earth with Yolngu songman Daniel Wilfred, Korean jazz vocalist Sunny Kim and the Australian Art Orchestra.

Acclaimed pianist Belle Chen will present the Australian premiere of Destinations, while The Special Comedy Comedy Special features some of this country’s leading Asian Australian comedians.

Nexus Arts will host Pinoy St Party – a night of street food and entertainment led by Filipino musician Kuya James, along with Playlist by progressive independent acts Rainbow Chan, Corin, (Mindy Meng Wang and Sui Zhen.

Dance theatre work Two will explore the interdisciplinary relationship between contemporary dancer Raghav Handa and maestro tabla musician Maharshi Raval, while Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta present Anchuli Felicia King’s White Pearl – a blisteringly funny satire about a skincare company whose new TV commercial goes viral for all the wrong reasons.

OzASia-Moon-Lantern-Parade-photo-by-Daniel-PurvisFoodies favourite Lucky Dumpling Market will return to Elder Park, and the ever-popular Moon Lantern Parade is evolving from a one-night event to span four days of free family experiences across the festival’s opening weekend.

Starting at Adelaide Festival Centre and taking audiences over the Oval footbridge to Pinky Flat, the newly named Moon Lantern Trail will boast roving performances, interactive workshops and live music – along with plenty of giant lanterns on display.

“As Australia’s leading contemporary arts festival fostering cultural engagement between Australia and Asia, OzAsia Festival is an important celebration of diversity within Australia and artistic excellence,” said Adelaide Festival Centre Artistic Director & CEO Douglas Gautier AM.

“Artistic Director Annette Shun Wah is our country’s most prominent and respected advocate for Asian Australian artists and their work, and this certainly shines through in the exciting program she has delivered. I look forward to welcoming you all to Adelaide Festival Centre for this spectacular showcase of contemporary Asian Australian performance at its finest.”

New writing and ideas program In Other Words is on its way to the Adelaide Riverbank Lawns for OzAsia Festival’s closing weekend (5 – 7 November). Program Curator Laura Kroetsch, a long-time curator and producer of literary and ideas events, will be joined by writer/broadcaster Benjamin Law and award-winning Indian Australian author Roanna Gonsalves as guest curators.

In Other Words will bring together some of Asia and Australia’s most inspiring contemporary writers as they engage in vital conversations about our past, present and future. The program – to be revealed in full in September – includes ticketed event Lunch on the Riverbank with Parwana, which will invite patrons to enjoy a special lunch, conversation and book signing with local writer and restaurateur Durkhanai Ayubi.

Other speakers confirmed so far include broadcast journalist Marc Fennell, filmmaker Tony Ayres, Indigenous rights advocate Larissa Behrendt, finance expert Satyajit Das, newsreader Mimi Kwa, barrister Lyma Nguyen, foreign correspondent James Oaten, economist Geoff Raby AO, University of Cambridge Professor Sujit Sivasundaram, food writer Hetty McKinnon and women’s health and safety advocate Amani Haydar.

OzAsia-AEON†-TITAN-ARUM.jpgPerformance art piece AEON†: TITAN ARUM is among OzAsia Festival’s visual art highlights, with an installation at Nexus Arts including live appearances merging dance with uncanny puppetry by Justin Talplacido Shoulder.

Japanese Australian artist Mayu Kanamori is using her exhibition Untitled.Showa to try to reunite a collection of more than 300 family photographs with their owners. The new Ian & Pamela Wall Gallery at Her Majesty’s Theatre will host On View: In Translation featuring video portraits of dancers from Hong Kong and Japan, while the Dunstan Playhouse’s Station Foyer will display daily screenings of The Strangers by Taiwanese artist Yuan Goang-Ming.

The Art Gallery of South Australia will host exhibitions True Self and A Vast Emporium. Over at Mercury CX, the film program includes a celebration of Shanghai-born director Wong Kar Wai.

“OzAsia Festival brings together artists with many different voices and perspectives,” said His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia and OzAsia Festival Patron.

“The wide range of events highlighted in the program for this year are more than just arts experiences – they are opportunities to celebrate, and enjoy, the rich cultural diversity of the Asian region. The festival truly has it all – from free community events right through to ground-breaking stage productions and a stunning film program.”

“I am also looking forward to the Moon Lantern Trail, a reimagining of the ever-popular Moon Lantern Parade. I am proud to be Patron of this fantastic festival and to see how much OzAsia Festival has grown since its inception. It is heartening to see how it has been enthusiastically embraced by the community for 14 years.”

The 2021 OzAsia Festival runs 21 October – 7 November. For more information and full program, visit: www.ozasiafestival.com.au for details.

Images: Valerie Berry in Double Delicious – photo by Clare Hawley | The Long Walk – photo by Wendell Teodoro | Moon Lantern Trail – photo by Daniel Purvis | AEON†: TITAN ARUM (supplied)