Perth International Arts Festival announces 2016 program

PIAF The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet photo by Martin TuliniusThe Perth International Arts Festival has announced its program for 2016, inviting audiences to join them on a big, bold adventure throughout February and March.

Perth International Arts Festival is the longest running annual multi-arts celebration in the Southern Hemisphere, and the jewel in the crown of Western Australia’s cultural life. The $17.6 million Festival is the first of four Festivals under Wendy Martin’s artistic leadership and brings innovative new work to Western Australia, delivering a cultural adventure for arts lovers of all ages and tastes,

“The Perth International Arts Festival provides a unique moment in our year to engage with artists from across the globe,” says Artistic Director Wendy Martin. “Visionaries, mavericks and dreamers – it’s through the lens of their imaginations that we get to see, understand and re-imagine our world. Dive into the program and discover daring projects made by some of the world’s most brilliant creative minds.”

Living up to the Festival’s global reputation for daring and excellence, around 800 of the world’s most visionary artists inhabit and enrich Perth, transforming the city with projects bold and beguiling. In a quintessentially Western Australian experience, the 64th Festival spills across unique venues and glorious, outdoor spaces including the Festival’s new home at Elizabeth Quay.

The 2016 Festival opens with Home – an epic celebration of the landscape, culture and community of Western Australia. Directed by grand public-performance magician Nigel Jamieson in collaboration with Noongar elder and artist Dr Richard Walley, Home is part concert, part visual arts installation, and features a roll call of Western Australia’s most evocative and imaginative artists including The Triffids, The Drones, The Panics, Pigram Brothers, The Waifs and John Butler; writers Kim Scott, Tim Winton, Robert Drewe; and Shaun Tan. An exciting event for the whole family, it is a testament to the incredible talent of Western Australian artists and the powerful sense of place in their work.

In 2016, the exciting hub of the Festival has a new home, in the north-west corner of Elizabeth Quay. Each night, the Chevron Festival Gardens is the place for festival-goers to gather, eat, drink, share stories and participate, enjoying a diverse, quality program of free events that connects and activates the city.

The 2016 Theatre program is equal parts philosophical, raucous and haunting. In a must-see Festival highlight, Simon Stone – one of the most in-demand directors on the international scene – thrills with his fearless re-imagining of Henrik Ibsen’s classic story of family dysfunction and deception, The Wild Duck. The fierce, heartbreaking Belvoir production makes its Western Australian premiere following smash hit sold-out seasons in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Vienna and Holland and comes direct from Belgium.

Further Australian highlights include Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid, from the genre-bending ‘kamikaze cabaret’ diva which subverts Hans Christian Andersen’s underwater tale of teen self-sacrifice, salvation and seduction into a glittering spectacle of contemporary cabaret. Western Australian artist James Berlyn performs for an intimate audience of 16, with the world premiere of I Know You’re There, a gently profound meditation on suicide and depression tracing three generations through storytelling, dance and conversation.

Inviting world-renowned talent to Australian shores, international Festival theatre highlights include Refuse The Hour – a phantasmagoric chamber opera from inimitable South African artist William Kentridge. A roaring success since opening in Denmark, The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet sees cult British band The Tiger Lillies present their anarchic take on Shakespeare’s classic. These two theatre highlights are both exclusive to PIAF.

From the UK, the Australian exclusive of Common Wealth’s No Guts, No Heart, No Glory is a raw and courageous production devised from real-life stories. American actor/illusionist/inventor Geoff Sobelle unpacks our relationship to everyday items in The Object Lesson, and Britain’s Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe bring the Australian premiere of their wildly acclaimed Every Brilliant Thing – a touching, humorous play about depression, which celebrates all the little things that make life worth living.

In 2016, the Festival’s Dance program dazzles with dynamic work from some of the world’s leading choreographers and dancers including Aditi Mangaldas, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Yasuyuki Shuto,  Dmitiri Jourde, and PIAF 2016 Artist in Residence, Claire Cunningham. The West Australian Ballet returns with its much-loved Ballet At The Quarry summer season, presenting five works under the stars, headlined by acclaimed British choreographer David Dawson’s On The Nature of Daylight – a rapturous pas de deux to the music of Max Richter and 5 – a tour-de-force for five dancers.

The 2016 Festival Classical Music program journeys the spectrum from ancient choral delights to glorious baroque, spirited ragtime, bebop, and contemporary orchestral jazz, while the contemporary music program spans poetic folk, electronica, dub, African rhythms to Balkan gypsy-swing.

The 2016 Visual Arts program is studded with diverse voices who transform contemporary mythologies into experiential art including India’s Bharti Kher, Sweden’s Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Spanish Australian artist, Dani Marti and mesmerising works by acclaimed artists Shaun Gladwell, Carsten Höller and John Tarry.

Over four days, the 2016 Perth Writers Festival brings a superb program of international and Australian novelists, activists and contemporary philosophers to Perth including Richard Dawkins, Roman Krznaric, Lisa Genova, Simon Winchester, Patrick deWitt, Masha Gessen, Lauren Groff, Valli Little and Michelle Crawford.

The 2016 Perth International Arts Festival runs 11 February – 6 March. For more information and complete program, visit: for details.

Image: The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet – photo by Martin Tulinius