According to Artistic Director Joseph Mitchell, the 2018 OzAsia Festival in Adelaide will not only transform audiences’ perspectives on Asia, but also the way they see the nightly news and the limits of art itself.
From the last week of October, approximately 200,000 people will be exposed to over 400 activities, as part of the 12th annual OzAsia Festival, to be presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre.
As usual, the festival has proudly brought an array of works to our shores that have never been seen here before, while simultaneously emphasising the commissioning of new artistic collaborations between Australian and international artists.
This year, there are 20 Australian premieres and 22 events exclusive to South Australia, as Joseph Mitchell explains.
“We are the only major annual arts festival that’s really looking towards Asia and contemporary arts and culture from Asia as part of the fabric and identity of our festival and as a result we end up with a large amount of Australian premieres.”
'Secret Love In Peach Blossom Land'
Premieres include headliners previously announced, such as 'Dancing Grandmothers' and Stan Lai’s 'Secret Love In Peach Blossom Land', as well as ‘While I Was Waiting’ by Syrian playwright Mohammed Al Attar, which will emphasise that there is more to the war-torn Arabic nation than what we are presented on the nightly news.
“It’s a very moving piece of drama that gives us an insight into the everyday people living in Damascus in Syria, who are actually trying to go about their daily lives in the midst of what is a really horrible civil war.”
“What happens here in Australia is we get the news every night about Syria, which is to do with the civil war, with corrupt government regimes, weapons and ISIS and cities getting flattened with bombs but what we don’t get to hear about is the millions of people just trying to live their daily lives: they go to work, the go to the movies, they visit their friends.”
Novelty is not constrained to the new, though. Dance piece 'Sutra', by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui with monks from the Shaolin Temple, which returns to Adelaide again after ten years, is an example of OzAsia’s emphasis on testing the limits of conventional art forms, Joseph says.
“The set contains 20 sculptural boxes which the dancers and acrobats use as a device in the narrative storytelling.”
“The images that they create with what looks like 20 simple boxes actually tells a very large, picaresque adventure story of dreams and exchange of knowledge and hope and a celebration of culture and a whole other range of elements.”
Joseph says that the Latvian Radio Choir’s ‘War Sum Up’, a modern opera with the tag line of music, manga and machine is a work that will show opera sceptics that the art form can be “exciting, edgy, moving and very profound.”
Festival favourites such as the Moon Lantern Festival and the Outdoor Concert Series, which includes Triple J Unearthed winner Sophie Koh, are this year joined by the Jaipur Literature Festival. The event, which will feature over 50 authors, journalists, thinkers and activists, is a literary festival with a difference.
“You’ll see panels, talks and discussions around fiction, non-fiction, health and wellness, sports, particularly – you won’t be surprised but will heavily focus on cricket, and also popular culture with the impact of Bollywood.”
'Close Company' – Image © Daniel Purvis
Works by South Australian artists include choreographer Alison Currie’s dance collaboration with Singapore’s RAW Moves, ‘Close Company’ and ‘Hello My Name Is…’, a one-man performance directed by Paulo Castro.
The contents of the vast programme can be digested while eating at the returning Lucky Dumpling Market or can be viewed online.