Adelaide Festival has revealed its 2019 program promising more than 70 events across theatre, music, dance, film, talks and art from March 1 to 17. The third festival presented by co-artistic directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield features 17 Australian premieres (among them 10 world premieres) and 23 shows exclusive to Adelaide.
People are already chewing the fat about Schuldfabrik. The eyebrow-raising “performative installation” by Dutch artist Julian Hetzel is a pop-up cosmetics shop, which will sell soap made from human fat donated by liposuction patients. Proceeds from the bars of soap – labelled Self – will go to third-world aid and hygiene programs – repurposing first-world excess into third-world aid.
Another installation, by Dutch company Schweigman&, is the immersive Blaas (meaning “bladder” or “bubble”), which will be performed with audiences “captive inside a giant white blob”.
A major highlight is cult hit The Second Woman – “an unravelling of gender projection, positioning and performance” as our writer called it – which sees one actress playing the same 10-minute scene (adapted from John Cassavetes’s film Opening Night) 100 times over a 24-hour period. Playing opposite her will be 100 “leading men” recruited from Adelaide. Another Broadsheet writer made the grave mistake of missing it at Dark Mofo last year and lamented that “every single damn person I spoke to who saw it said it was the best thing at the festival”.
The confronting, and important, Manus by all-Iranian Verbatim Theatre Group will reveal the devastating stories of detainees on Manus Island and Nauru, including the experiences of journalist Behrouz Boochani. This show is rarely seen outside Tehran, and an Adelaide Festival exclusive. The pertinent themes of displacement and seeking asylum recur in Another Life: Human Flows/Unknown Odysseys, a massive exhibition from the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography chronicling the flow of desperate people out of Africa across the Mediterranean to Greece. It features more than 160 works from 26 photographers and photojournalists.
Leading the dance program is a restaging of acclaimed dancer-choreographer Meryl Tankard’s signature work Two Feet, which has been re-choreographed as a vehicle for one of the 21st century’s greatest ballerinas, Natalia Osipova. She’ll portray the turbulent life of 20th-century ballet superstar Olga Spessivtseva in this world premiere. And German company Semperoper Ballett’s will stage its Australian premiere season of Carmen. The ballet won choreographer Johan Inger a Prix Benois de la Danse award (the Oscar of the ballet world) for his contemporary take on the famous Bizet opera.
A varied music program includes the world premieres of Tim Minchin and cabaret legend and local arts hero Robyn Archer’s new shows, and a newly commissioned work by Australian music icon Paul Kelly. The Palais’s contemporary music program features Australian radio staples Sarah Blasko, Megan Washington and Augie March plus Emma Donovan and the Putbacks in a tribute to Indigenous singer-songwriter Ruby Hunter; and international acts They Might Be Giants, ex-Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis, and Irish cabaret star Camille O’Sullivan in her tribute to Nick Cave.
The Palais’s Long Lunch events return, this time pairing acclaimed Adelaide chefs with festival artists. Maggie Beer will join forces with Robyn Archer, and Africola’s Duncan Welgemoed will team up with the South African performers from musical theatre show, A Man of Good Hope.
Adelaide Writers’ Week returns in its first year under director Jo Dyer. The 2019 event will feature Germaine Greer, who has courted controversy in recent years for her transphobic comments and calls for reduced punishment for rape, and former NSW premier Bob Carr – two guests who were dropped from the Brisbane Writers Festival earlier this year. The free, six-day event will also feature talks by feminist writers Sohaila Abdulali, Soraya Chemaly, Robin Morgan and Lucia Osborne-Cowley, journalist Leigh Sales, and former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission Professor Gillian Triggs.
Adelaide Festival runs from March 1 to 17, 2019. The full program is online now.