Brisbane Festival 2021 Programme

Published in Arts News  
L-R, Top-Bottom: 'Boy Swallows Universe', 'Street Serenades', 'RED', Sunsuper Riverfire L-R, Top-Bottom: 'Boy Swallows Universe', 'Street Serenades', 'RED', Sunsuper Riverfire

Brisbane Festival returns in 2021 with a Brightly Brisbane programme.


This year’s event will invite the city to re-emerge, connect, celebrate and shine brightly under Brisbane’s skies this September, with a line-up of premiere productions, cutting edge collaborations, commissioned new work, award-winning performances and a brand-new Festival Hub.

“The 2021 programme has a real focus on connecting Brisbane, bringing life to the city’s streets, suburbs and cultural venues with diverse and unique performances,” Minister For The Arts Leeanne Enoch says.

“Showcasing 63 Queensland companies and employing more than 1,000 local artists, this year’s Brisbane Festival programme will also feature 168 First Nations artists engaged across the 23-day festival, the largest in the festival’s history.”

Launching her second programme, Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina says the core themes of community and celebration are at the heart of the 2021 event.

“There is a renewed ambition to this year’s festival, a joyous and uplifting celebration of our River City, with large new creations, such as the premiere of Brisbane’s Art Boat along with a spectacular line-up of world class talent.”

Across 23 September days, Brisbane Festival will commission 18 new works, stage 15 world premieres, deliver 139 productions and present events in 223 locations across the city.

Everything kicks off with a Jumoo – a smoking ceremony – at South Bank, led by Yuggera and Turrbal man Shannon Ruska, connecting the festival and its visitors to Country.

Brisbane Art Boat is a new floating art experience, cruising between South Bank and Northshore, Hamilton, immersing audiences in a glowing world and bathing Brisbane River in a new light.

Contemporary dance piece ‘RED’ from Townsville-based Dancenorth Australia is both epic and intimate; a statement on survival as two dancers perform inside a transparent bubble while the air slowly runs out.

Lost Photo Beyond the Sand
Lost - Image © Beyond The Sand

A wondrous world of food, wine, entertainment and discovery awaits in BOQ Festival Garden, popping up in South Bank.

The brand-new Festival Hub features live entertainment, roving performers, school holiday fun, food, bars and a mysterious interactive adventure.

The festival opens with two stellar events, led by the keenly anticipated world premiere season of Trent Dalton’s ‘Boy Swallows Universe’, adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry.

Then, the South Bank Piazza will transform into a haven of hip as David Campbell brings his ‘Back In The Swing’ big band show to Brisbane for one night only.

Also taking over South Bank Piazza will be ‘First Nations Fashion: Walking In Two Worlds’, ‘Skyfall’, Casus Circus’ ‘Auntie’s Fiafia Night’ and many more artists and acts.

Free outdoor exhibition Lost runs for the duration of the festival and is a garden of extinct and endangered floral illuminations from Australian artist Amanda Parer.

Meanwhile, storytelling and live music combine in ‘Heart Is A Wasteland’, a cross-country, whisky-fuelled love story playing at Queensland Performing Arts Centre, and Wiradjuri man Joel Bray takes audiences on a flirty and passionate look at sensuality in ‘Considerable Sexual License’.

Talk Talk
'plenty serious TALK TALK'

‘plenty serious TALK TALK’ is a wickedly sharp and gleefully funny commentary on the complexities of negotiating culture across disciplines, genres and eras, playing La Boite Theatre.

“Critical to the spirit of Brisbane Festival is a programme where diverse voices have a platform to tell stories and share their culture in this grand celebration of connection and community,” Artistic Director Louise Bezzina says.

‘Street Serenades’, a stand-out in 2020, hits the road again to dazzles audiences across all 190 Brisbane suburbs. Big name acts like Boy & Bear, Christine Anu, Montaigne and Queensland Ballet are among those set to entertain.

‘Buŋgul’, a celebration of the talent and legacy of Gurrumul Yunupiŋu, makes its Queensland debut. Karul Projects’ ‘Weredingo’ entertains and challenges what audiences think they know about shapeshifting in a world premiere season. The Tivoli is home to a First Nations-led programme of music.

The bold return of Sunsuper Riverfire adds one final, colourful, spectacular bang to close things out for another year.

Check out the full programme here. Tickets are on sale now.

Brisbane Festival runs from 3-25 September.

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