Perth Festival 2020 Programme

Published in Arts News  
L-R, Top-Bottom: Garrick Ohlsson, Ngaiire, 'Hecate', Blind Boys Of Alabama L-R, Top-Bottom: Garrick Ohlsson, Ngaiire, 'Hecate', Blind Boys Of Alabama

On a bedrock of Indigenous culture, Perth Festival is welcoming audiences to a glorious summer celebration of people and place.


Over 24 days and nights, Perth will showcase more than 250 events across theatre, music, dance, opera, film, visual arts, and literature and ideas. Many of them will be free and aim to dazzle audiences from near and far.

Mavis Staples, Neil Gaiman, Meow Meow, Rufus Wainwright, Kate Tempest, Bryony Kimmings, Paul Kelly, Garrick Ohlsson, Michael Keegan-Dolan. . . The list of artists goes on, as does the list of new works celebrating influential figures such as Gurrumul, Philip Glass, Beethoven, and Bon Scott.

New Artistic Director Iain Grandage's four annual programmes on Noongar Boodjar will capture an ever-expanding orbit of stories from the local to the global. The entire first week of the festival is dedicated to First Nations performances – which is a first for any major Australian international arts festival.

Yirra Yaakin Theatre presents the all-Noongar language 'Hecate', an adaptation of 'Macbeth' by writer-director and Perth Festival Associate Artist Kylie Bracknell (Kaarljilba Kaardn).

The first week also brings 'Bennelong', one of Bangarra Dance Theatre's most acclaimed shows, and 'BLACK TIES', a comedy about a Maori and Aboriginal couple's wedding party, from ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and Te Rehia Theatre.

A highlight for the opening weekend will be the world premiere of 'Bungul', inviting audiences into the culture which inspired Gurrumul's final album.

The new City Of Lights Festival Hub will burst to life as a glittering precinct in and around Perth Concert Hall. There will be contemporary music under the stars at the Chevron Lighthouse outdoor, meanwhile inside, the hall will transform from an Indigenous ceremonial ground into a classical and fine music space, and a rollicking Kabarett Haus curated by the marvellous Meow.

'Bran Nue Dae' and 'Cloudstreet' are back in thrilling new productions in partnership with WA Opera and Black Swan State Theatre Company Of WA. Andrew Bovell and a dream-team of writers reunite will present the festival commission 'Anthem'.

Leviathan DamienBredberg
'Leviathan' - Image © Damien Bredberg

Physical theatre and dance lovers have much to savour in 2020, such as Stephanie Lake's 'Colossus', and Circa joining forces with Co:3 Australia, Circus Maxima and CircusWA in 'Leviathan'.

International brilliance will shine in 'Tao Of Glass'. Phelim McDermott of the UK theatre group Improbable teams up with composer Philip Glass and an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers for this theatrical odyssey through music. Bryony Kimmings returns with 'I'm A Phoenix, Bitch'.

Perth's enviable summer nights will be used to their full advantage in Lotterywest Films under the stars at UWA Somerville, Ballet At The Quarry, and the transformation of the Supreme Court Gardens for 'Hansel And Gretel'.

Meanwhile, it's Beethoven's 250th birthday and his only opera 'Fidelio' will be performed in celebration by WA Symphony Orchestra, while other highlights from his catalogue feature in Chamber Music Weekend.

The music programme continues as Australian music legend Paul Kelly, composer James Ledger, Alice Keath and Seraphim Trio present 'Thirteen Ways To Look At Birds'. In association with Musica Viva, revered American pianist Garrick Ohlsson brings works by Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Chopin.

On the contemporary side of things, artists such as Briggs, Mavis Staples, Blind Boys Of Alabama, Aldous Harding, Ngaiire, and Yeasayer will take to the stage throughout the festival.

Land. Money. Power. Sex. These are the four themes driving the festival's Literature & Ideas programme, curated by Sisonke Msimang. Novelists, songwriters, filmmakers, politicians, artists, DJs, and comedians will come together to wrestle with pressing contemporary issues.

The visual arts programme examines place and identity with a powerful urgency. A series of exhibitions around Perth's galleries include works from Lynette Wallworth, Laurie Anderson, Tina Havelock Stevens, and Jacky Connolly.

Perth Festival runs from 7 February-1 March. Click here for the full programme.

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