When the house lights finally went down in The Dunstan Playhouse to begin the Programme launch of the 2015 OzAsia Festival, a small child called out “Yay” and the entire audience broke out in laughter.
Nothing could better suit the unique proposition of this Festival – it enjoys a formal yet informal place in ‘The Festival State’. It’s certainly the most forward-looking and worthwhile enterprise since the days of Don Dunstan’s Industrial Development Department/Research Council/Advisory Committee concept of developing South Australian trade in the Southeast Asian region.
The Festival runs from 24 September to 4 October with this year’s cultural focus on Indonesia. While Japan, India, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea also feature throughout the Festival.
This year 41 events include 5 world premieres and 15 Australian premieres. There are 180 scheduled activities including more than 90 performances, 8 exhibitions, 15 film screenings, 9 talk events and a plethora of workshops and other community activities. Over 270 professional artists will perform to an audience expected at over 100,000 people.
Joseph Mitchell, the Festival’s ebullient Director, said “The 2015 OzAsia Festival gives Australian audiences an insight into the vibrant contemporary arts scene from across Asia. There is a generation of young, bold, risk-taking artists who are creating genre-blurring performances that celebrate the immediacy and fast-paced culture of Asia in the 21st Century.”
The Festival opens with the Australian premiere of Teater Garasi’s acclaimed production of The Streets. Under the direction of prominent Indonesian theatre director Yudi Ahmad Tadjudin, the Space Theatre will be transformed to look and feel like a busy Indonesian Street in Jakarta where the audience will feel like they are part of the performance. Using dance, theatre and immersive performance, The Streets is a performance-based response to contemporary urban life in Indonesia.
Mwathirika is thought-provoking, emotionally chilling and visually bold work that explores the story of Indonesia’s murderous anti-Communist purge during 1965-66.
China’s leading theatre director Meng Jinghui returns to Australia with the Australian premiere of Amber, an emotionally charged love story that transcends culture. Rock music, dance and rapid-fire multimedia all combine to explore the nature of love, loss of innocence and the commercialisation of sex in modern China.
Japan’s Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker is an intense, high–octane hybrid performance that is part pop concert, part theatre work. It’s chaotic, yet controlled and focuses on the extremes of consumer society and disposable culture.
The Australian premiere of Play is another show for Dance aficionados. It’s the result of legendary choreographer Pina Bausch championing the work of award-winning choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and dancer Shantala Shivalingappa, renowned for her complexity and grace on stage, merging the traditional form of Indian Kuchipudi with modern dance.
Another opening night act, Eko Supriyanto’s Cry Jailolo, is a contemporary dance work featuring seven young men from North Maluku who will bring to life the mystical underwater world of Jailolo Bay, East Indonesia.
Topeng Cirebon, a celebration of the Cirebon region of West Java, is renowned for topeng (mask dance). Dancer Nani Losari is an eighth generation performer of the spiritual Losari topeng style and Inusi is a third generation of the energetic Selangit style. The performances are accompanied by ‘gamelan’ live on stage.
A world premiere of Water Pushes Sand, features composer Erik Griswold and the Australian Art Orchestra teaming up with musicians from Sichuan Province in China to create a 10-piece big band fusing traditional Sichuan melodies with modern jazz improvisation.
GogoStar presents their Goth-electro-Disco-Punk in uniquely Korean style – all mashed up with Tim Burton inspired visuals. Atmospheric soundscapes infused with synthesised pop and hard-edged rock, GogoStar has a cult following in the Korean Indie rock scene.
Something New . . .
The ‘Adelaide Night Noodle Markets’ within the Festival Centre precinct is expected to generate a ‘Festival Hub’ atmosphere not unlike that of the CabFest’s ‘Wintergarden’ only grander and more diverse.
Moon Lantern Festival
After botching the Moon Lantern Festival for 2 years running, the Festival organisers are promising it will indeed go ahead this year, on Sunday 27 September, with contingency plans in place to ensure the public won’t be disappointed yet again. Promising a 36 person Hong Kong Dragon and fireworks display over the River Torrens, the Moon Lantern Festival is an event for the whole family.
Other highlights of the Festival include, The Spice of Life a free event on 4 October, from 11AM – 4PM at the Migration Museum which celebrates spices from across Southeast Asia with a variety of spice-themed activities including food stalls, cooking demonstrations, community performances and hands-on activities for the kids.
The OzAsia Festival’s Film Programme presents a number of movies and documentaries from across the region, including Joshua Oppenheimer: Indonesia Double: Act of Killing and The Look of Silence two documentary features that have received widespread critical acclaim for both pushing the boundaries of documentary filmmaking. Akira Kurosawa is famous for his Samurai epics and Kurosawa’s Film Noir is a selection of films that showcase his take on film noir. China Times is a collection of new films from China that showcase a new generation of cinematic voices. East by South East is a collection of short films looking at contemporary East and Southeast Asian cultures made by Honours student filmmakers at Flinders University. Also, Ann Hui – A Career Retrospective, showcases six of Hui’s films that help explain why she was named ‘Asian Filmmaker of the Year’ at the Busan International Film Festival.
Of the Festival, now in its 9th year, Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier said, “Over the last eight years, Adelaide Festival Centre has built an international reputation for its successful focus on enhancing Australian-Asian cultural relationships. OzAsia Festival is the centrepiece of our long-term, multifaceted Asian engagement strategy. We are very much looking forward to sharing the 2015 OzAsia Festival with audiences, who will discover a visionary program of the best contemporary artists from across Asia in the areas of dance, theatre, visual art, music and film.”