Progress Festival 2023 to explore the vital role that creative expression and ideas play in connectivity

AAR-MPA-The-End-of-WinterMonash University Performing Arts Centres (MPAC) is thrilled to announce the return of the Progress Festival, a biennial festival of ideas and performance, which will delve into the theme of connectivity, examining the benefits and challenges of living in a highly connected world.

Running from 29 August to 2 September, the Progress Festival is a public event that fosters dialogue among artists, thinkers, researchers, and academics. Utilising the resources and great minds of Monash University, it explores the trajectory of society, our species, and the planet.

The festival’s theme this year is connectivity, examining its impact on us in so many ways. Through the natural world where our interconnected world shapes landscapes, climate and organisms, and via technology where interactivity is a blessing and a curse.

Remote access, easy collaboration and transformative educational opportunities have changed our lives for the better, but corporate surveillance, financial contagion and social media polarisation are real threats.

Raki opens the festival with a particular focus on First Nations’ approaches to connectivity, where the idea of interconnected nature, life and spirit offer new paradigms.

Many western thinkers, artists and institutions are increasingly seeing these paradigms as offering potential solutions to some of the problems that arise from our interconnected world.

MPAC’s premier venues, including the Robert Blackwood Hall and The Ian Potter Centre for Performing Arts, will host a range of events during the five-day long festival.

The festival will also feature a hybrid format, combining live and virtual performances to accommodate a wider audience, and interactive experiences for those who want to connect themselves.

“This year’s Progress Festival is all about connectivity,” said Paul Grabowsky AO, Executive Director, MPAC. “We live in an increasingly interconnected world, with data transmission at warp speed and notions of private space and individuation under attack.”

“This interconnectivity is technology driven, but awareness of interconnectedness is an ancient wisdom, understood by our First Nations peoples for millennia. We will explore the old and the new, and the way they connect, in a week of performance and discussion, not to be missed,” said Mr Grabowsky.

Highlights of the 2023 Progress Festival include:

Alexander Theatre: Tuesday 29 August
Meaning ‘bush string/law,’ Raki is a captivating cycle of songs performed by Daniel Wilfred, a Yolnu man and song keeper from Ngukurr. Collaborating with the Australian Art Orchestra, Daniel shares these rarely heard songs in the Wagiläk language, deeply tied to his town’s history. The special opening night performance also features Paul Grabowsky and Peter Knight.

Online: Thursday 31 August
Award-winning comedian Lawrence Leung presents an immersive and hilarious show, combining stunts, experiments, and mind tricks. This interactive online performance promises to captivate audiences of all ages and locations with this live-streamed segment from London.

Bell Curve
David Li Sound Gallery: Thursday 31 August – Friday 1 September
Bell Curve is a profound spatial performance by Speak Percussion’s Artistic Director Eugene Ughetti. The composition features twelve independent bell ringers, exploring rhythm, pitch, and resonance, revealing the pristine beauty of Victoria’s Federation Handbells. The performance is enhanced by a dynamically changing acoustic space created with the Meyer sound system in the David Li Sound Gallery.

Invenio Singers
David Li Sound Gallery: Friday 1 September
Invenio Singers, renowned sound designer Jethro Woodward, and composer Gian Slater present Spiral Now, an innovative and immersive performance utilizing the state-of-the-art constellation sound system in the David Li Sound Gallery. This premiere performance will be innovative, immersive, and intimate and examines the cycles of nostalgia triggered by our senses.

The End of Winter
Alexander Theatre: Saturday 2 September
The End of Winter
is a poignant one-woman show exploring the potential disappearance of winter due to climate change. Set in a hot, bushfire-prone Australia, the performance reflects on the warming and shortening of winters. Through a combination of public transport and the power of the human mind, the show invites audiences to contemplate the potential loss of winter, relegating it to the realm of fairy tales, paintings, and historical records.

The 2023 Progress Festival takes place at Monash University Performing Arts Centres and online from 29 August to 2 September. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: The End of Winter (supplied)