words patrick mcdonald
Australia’s only annual performing arts event dedicated to exploring cultural relationships with our nearest neighbours, the OzAsia Festival, will celebrate its 10th program over two weeks in September-October.
Rather than focus on acts from a particular country, this year new OzAsia director Joseph Mitchell, who has a strong vision for the event, has cast the net far and wide to look at our own nation in a regional context. “There is a vibrant generation of bold and visionary artists who are creating genre-blurring performances that celebrate the immediacy and fast-paced culture of Asia in the 21st century,” Mitchell says. “OzAsia Festival gives Australian audiences an insight into the vibrant contemporary arts scene from across Asia.’’
This year’s program, which runs from September 17 to October 2, features 49 major events including 35 Australian premieres. There will be 112 professional performances, as well as 101 shows by community groups, eight exhibitions, 16 film screenings, 15 workshops and other activities. Highlights include Japan’s Chelfitsch theatre company with its humorous exploration of sports obsession God Bless Baseball, Japanese choreographer Hiroaki Umeda’s multimedia dance works Split Flow and Holistic Strata, and the return of maverick Chinese theatre director Meng Jinghui with Two Dogs, a shaggy tale about two rural canines who escape their village to pursue happiness in the big city, only to get mugged by reality.
Breaking with past convention, Joseph Mitchell has also programmed acts from the United States and Israel which are designed to reflect the changing diversity of Australia and Adelaide’s own populations. New York company 600 Highwaymen, alias theatre makers Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone, will present its show The Record, which brings together 45 different people from South Australia who have never met before to create a live art performance that explores what it is to be human. The individuals chosen to take part are not professional performers but men, women and children who will provide a record of Adelaide’s social fabric in 2016.
Since former Hong Kong Arts Festival director Douglas Gautier returned to become chief executive of the Adelaide Festival Centre a decade ago, he has also enhanced Australian-Asian cultural relationships.
Bookings and full program details are available at ozasiafestival.com.au