Festival Fun

Culture & Arts

From Adelaide Festival and Fringe to Clipsal 500, every March Adelaide is turned into a mecca for entertainment-hungry punters. It comes as no surprise then locals call this time of the year “Mad March”.

Festival shows its true Saul

Barrie Kosky brings daring opera to SA

Outrageous opera of truly biblical proportions will reclaim its rightful place as the centrepiece of next year’s Adelaide Festival when provocative Australian director Barrie Kosky returns with his acclaimed Glyndebourne production of Handel’s Saul.

Kosky, who directed his own memorable Adelaide Festival in 1996, has transformed the German-born, British-based composer’s solemn work into a bewigged and bodice-bursting baroque playground for giant-slayers and Hogarthian debauchery. “Saul is one of the great pieces of 18th century music,’’ Kosky says. “It’s an oratorio, so it wasn’t written to be performed on the stage, although — in Handel’s mind — I’m sure that as he was writing it and conceiving it, the story and the characters were very much seen in a theatrical context.’’

Written as a concert piece, Handel based Saul on events from the First Book of Samuel in the Old Testament. “You are dealing with this extraordinary piece of music which is based on an extraordinary story: The story of the downfall of King Saul, his madness, the story of the battle of David and Goliath, the love between Saul’s daughters and Saul’s son for David — because they all fall in love with him — and Saul’s death.’’

Kosky says the music is “sometimes very beautiful, sometimes radically dramatic in its form, and there’s some of Handel’s greatest choral writing in it’’. “These biblical oratorios that he wrote have a sort of breadth and epic quality both in their music making and in their themes. Saul is in fact a piece which has a ferocious energy to it, as well as containing very beautiful, melancholic music. So you get these amazing extremes of emotion in it: rage, hate, and love and jealousy, and madness and joy.’’

The 2017 Adelaide Festival program will be the first presented by new artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy, and features events as diverse as Shakespeare’s Richard III by Germany’s Schaubuhne Theatre, The Encounter by UK theatre company Complicite, and Gala by French choreographer Jerome Bel. “Kosky’s virtuosic stagecraft, rich imaginative world and subversive humour is perfectly matched with Handel’s magnificent oratorio,’’ say Armfield and Healy of Saul. “It could not have been clearer that we were witnessing an artist at the peak of his powers. Barrie has created a work that is deservedly being regarded as a masterpiece.’’

Leading the cast will be British bass-baritone Christopher Purves — who played Saul at Glyndebourne — with American countertenor Christopher Lowrey as David and Australian tenor Adrian Strooper as Jonathan, with featured roles by Mary Bevan, Taryn Fiebig, Stuart Jackson and Kanen Breen as the Witch.

Saul is at the Adelaide Festival Theatre on March 3, 5, 7 and 9,
with tickets available at BASS or


Sappers & Shrapnel

Contemporary art and the art of the trenches
November 11, 2016 to January 29, 2017
Free admission

Ben Quilty has been twice to the Middle East; as an official war artist, and at the invitation of World Vision. From being embedded with Australian soldiers in Afghanistan in 2012, he has seen the ravages of war from the other end of the telescope by spending time with refugees forced out of Syria earlier this year.

Syria has inspired a very different kind of art from a painter noted for his powerhouse portraits of Australian soldiers. It will be part of an exhibition, Sappers and Shrapnel, at the Art Gallery of SA. Opening on Remembrance Day, November 11, the exhibition looks at the art made in the trenches from the detritus of war, whether it be spent shells recycled as artworks by soldiers in WWI, or contemporary artists turning military uniforms into ghostly statues.

At the heart of Quilty’s contribution will be a series of wedding dresses, made by Raghdaa, a refugee and fashion design student, who was forced to flee, heavily pregnant, from the city of Raqqa after it was overthrown by ISIS forces.

He found her and her newborn daughter, Soulas, among the 360,000 refugees in camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

Her wedding dresses express defiance, yet hope for the wedding one day of Soulas. Quilty filmed Raghdaa’s life, and there are sketches of bombing raids by war-torn refugee children. Quilty is making his own installation from some of the thousands of abandoned refugee lifejackets he found on the beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos.

Art Gallery of South Australia
North Terrace, Adelaide


3 of the best – Adelaide Fringe Venues

The Garden of Unearthly Delights

East Tce, Kadlitpina Park

With its warm and inviting vintage carnival feel, this venue takes about 700,000 visitors each year to a far away world of entertainment and fun. From the abstract and absurd, to the cute and quirky, the Garden of Unearthly Delights is undoubtedly one of the main attractions of Adelaide’s yearly Fringe. More than 100 shows are presented at different venues all set up in Adelaide’s idyllic Kadlitpina Park.

Royal Croquet Club

Pinky Flat, Torrens Riverbank

Organisers of the Royal Croquet Club have been tight lipped about the location of the 2017 event. But it has finally been revealed that Pinky Flat is the favoured position. Combining incredible Fringe acts, delicious food and drinks, great atmosphere and croquet, RCC has grown so much in popularity that it set up pop up pitches in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. Previously located at Adelaide’s Victoria Square, it will next year be held at the northern banks of the Torrens, near Adelaide Oval and Memorial Drive Tennis Club.


East Tce, Rymill Park

With a name like this, visitors can expect Gluttony to satisfy their hunger. But while this popular venue puts on lovely food, fine wine and local beer, the real focus is on a large array of theatre, cabaret, circus, magic, dance, visual arts, children’s entertainment and comedy. Jam-packed with first-class events each year, Gluttony received a venue award in 2014.

The annual Fringe is held across Adelaide from February 17 to March 19, 2017.
For more info, visit