The OzAsia Festival is ready to unleash its delights on Adelaide again this year with a stunning program of contemporary arts events, many of them exclusive to this city.
Festival director Joseph Mitchell — in his third year at the helm — says each event represents “the best and the most highly-acclaimed contemporary arts and culture from across Asia”.
“Nowhere else in Australia will you ever get a chance to see such high-calibre work that’s coming out of the region that is really leading the way in terms of outstanding arts practice anywhere in the world,” Mitchell says. He says his five favourite events will all be Adelaide premieres, including Akram Khan’s Until the Lions.
“Akram Khan is arguably the most important choreographer in the world right now,” he says. “I think this is our strongest festival yet and, because I’ve been in the chair for a while and the relationships and partnerships and artists that I’ve connected with are stronger than ever, that’s reflected in the program.”
The OzAsia Festival is on from 21 September to 8 October.
Log on to ozasiafestival.com.au for details.
The Director’s Pick
Here are five major Australian premiere events, hand-picked by Joseph Mitchell, all exclusive to Adelaide for OzAsia Festival
Keiichiro Shibuya and Hatsune Miku
The world’s first virtual opera will have its exclusive Australian premiere in Adelaide. Featuring virtual megastar Hatsune Miku and acclaimed Japanese composer Keiichiro Shibuya, The End redefines opera in the 21st century. With no traditional orchestra on stage and no actual human singers, this multimedia spectacular showcases virtual pop sensation Miku Hatsune. She performs a libretto in which she begins to question her existence, contemplating the meaning of death for a virtual character who cannot die. A fun part of this experience will be seeing bold opera lovers and fans of Hatsune Mike coming together to experience the production.
At Samstag Museum
Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is home to one of the largest collections of South-East Asian art in the world. Every time I visit Singapore, it has become a ritual to drop by SAM and check out what they are doing. I love how the colonial building where SAM is based is filled with stunning contemporary art from South-East Asia, it really speaks to the past and present of what Singapore is as a young nation. It is great pleasure to have Samstag Museum in Adelaide collaborating with SAM to put on this spectacular event based around the title After Utopia and featuring select pieces from Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, India and China.
Until the Lions
Choreographed by Akram Khan
Akram Khan started his career as a 13-year-old performer in Peter Brook’s famous staging of The Mahabharata. Now established as one of the world’s most important choreographers, Akram
returns to this iconic text in his latest production, Until the Lions. In this powerful dance-theatre production, the story of princess Amba is revisited from a female perspective, to be more relatable to modern audiences. Abducted by the powerful warrior Bheeshma, Amba is rendered unmarriageable. Invoking the power of the gods, she seeks her revenge against the mighty Bheeshma. Incredible dance and compelling storytelling with a Pan-Asian cast from Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines.
The Dark Inn
Niwa Geikan Penino
Before joining OzAsia Festival, I had started following the work of a theatre director from Japan who was making quite bold contemporary theatre. His name is Kuro Tanino and, once I started at OzAsia Festival, I knew it would only be a matter of time before Australian audiences would have a chance to see the work of this acclaimed theatre maker. The Dark Inn is arguably his masterwork to date. As the writer, designer and director all in one, Tanino has a bold vision that is unlike any other theatre artist. While some of Tanino’s plays contain a narrative, it is his sheer ability to transport viewers into another world that resonates. The location and characters in The Dark Inn are at once very real, yet also possibly sit somewhere just outside of the reality many of us know. The set design is incredible, featuring a two-storey revolving bath house in the remote mountains of Japan.
An epic theatre production to enjoy over a full day or spread across two nights always makes for a great arts festival experience. Hotel, by Singapore’s W! ld Rice Theatre Company is flat out one of the best theatre events I have experienced in many years. Clocking in at about five hours across two parts (with suitable intervals), Hotel traces 100 years of history, kicking off at the turn of last century when Singapore was still a British colony. The whole play is set in an unnamed luxurious hotel and, like binge watching a good TV series, there are 11 different stories that play out over a 100-year period, each one self-contained. Different characters and story links begin to appear and thread together. Hotel has been acclaimed as the most important and successful theatre work ever produced in Singapore.