With unprecedented line-up boasting over 500 shows through 78 productions over three weeks, the 2015 Brisbane Festival circumnavigates the globe, bringing some of the most provocative and innovative performances ever to grace Australian stages from 12 countries and five continents. With so much on offer, Arts Review takes a look at ten shows worth checking-out at this year’s festival:
Beautiful One Day
Cremorne Theatre – QPAC: 23 – 26 September
Palm Island, Queensland, 2004. An Aboriginal man dies in police custody. Members of the community make a direct challenge to police power and the police station is torched. Eleven years later, the people of Palm Island continue to demand real justice. ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and Belvoir came together over a shared sense of outrage at the injustices surrounding the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee. Prompted by the Palm Island community, they have looked for a way to turn anger into understanding.
Hot Brown Honey
Judith Wright Centre: 16 – 26 September
Packing a sweet punch of Hip Hop politics, Hot Brown Honey smashes stereotypes and serves up an audacious platter of dance, poetry, comedy, circus, striptease and song. From the simmering shores of ‘Polynesia’ to the Bogan streets of Australia, from Africa and Asia, to the life of a single mother who happens to be a DJ, Hot Brown Honey undress sticky topics with side-splitting humour.
Brisbane Powerhouse: 9 – 12 September
Circa’s ground-breaking new work co-commissioned by Brisbane Festival, fusing stripped-back acrobatics with baroque opera. Over 80 taut minutes, it retells Claudio Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno D’Ulisse in Patria intermingling it with folk songs and new compositions, and percolating it through the lens of Primo Levi’s post WW2 European displacement. At the core of Il Ritorno is the hunger to return home – saturated with loss and war, powered by longing and haunted by the past.
Playhouse Theatre – QPAC: 15 – 19 September
In this re-creation, a group of Congolese refugees has stumbled upon a trunk filled with sheet music, costumes and gramophone recordings of Verdi’s Macbeth. This theatrical paraphernalia is the catalyst for a dramatic re-telling of Shakespeare’s tale of greed, tyranny and remorse, with the Macbeths as warlords, the three witches as double-crossing businessmen and Dunsinane as the Great Lakes region of Central Africa.
The City They Burned
QUT Creative Industries Precinct: 22 – 26 September
This thrilling immersive experience from Attic Erratic explores power, fear and judgement in a modern re-telling of the biblical tale of Lot and his family. Melbourne writer Fleur Kilpatrick interrogates how power is inherited, forced, taken away and earned, and investigates the notion of the ‘greater good’ from the perspective of affected individuals.
The Importance of Being Earnest
Playhouse Theatre – QPAC: 11 – 13 September
This Oscar Wilde classic is perhaps the most perfectly funny play ever written. In this joyous production from W!LD RICE – named Singapore’s ‘sexiest theatre company’ by Lonely Planet – celebrated theatre and film director Glen Goei casts an all-male ensemble, revealing new insights into hidden identities, institutional marriage, and the politics of choosing a partner.
Bille Brown Studio: 5 – 26 September
Daniel Evans marshals an ensemble cast of ten acclaimed Brisbane actors in this contemporary retelling of Chekhov’s classic play about family, power, sex, fame and passion. The brilliance of the text will be emphasised as the cast take centre stage in this stripped-back, QTC Actor’s Studio production that will cut to the heart.
QUT Creative Industries Precinct: 8 – 26 September
Roll up to the outrageous and dynamic world of Theatre Republic and see the brightest talent and award winning shows from the independent arts scene in Australia and around the world. Located at the QUT Creative Industries Precinct, performances include: Dead Centre/Seawall, Experimenta Recharge, Minnie and Mona Play Dead, Prize Fighter, The Theory of Everything just to name a few.
Brisbane Powerhouse: 16 – 26 September
Completely redefining cabaret as a disco inferno that shocks, surprises and scintillates at every turn, Velvet is an electrifying trip to a world of glamour and abandon, all in the company of vocal, dance and acrobatic stars. It’s sharp, sexy, raucous, and just a little sadomasochistic. Directed by Craig Ilott (Smoke & Mirrors), Velvet features the legendary diva Marcia Hines, singer/songwriter Brendan Maclean, mixmaster with rhythmic brilliance Joey Accaria, hoola-boy extraordinaire Craig Reid, New Orleans burlesque queen Perle Noire, along with the sizzling aerial acrobatics of Stephen Williams.
William Jolly Bridge Art Projections
William Jolly Bridge: 5 – 26 September
Brisbane City Council partners with Brisbane Festival to showcase two outstanding Brisbane visual artists, Gerwyn Davies and Alice Lang. Over the Festival, the iconic, heritage-listed William Jolly Bridge with be wrapped with their beautiful art projections, offering plenty of opportunities to photograph and share this amazing imagery.
The 2015 Brisbane Festival runs 5 – 26 September. For more information and complete programme, visit: www.brisbanefestival.com.au for details.
Image: Velvet at the Brisbane Powerhouse – photo by Daniel Linnet