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Adelaide Festival

An Australian Songbook 

Adelaide Cabaret Festival
by
20 June 2023

How might Australian history be characterised in song? Described as 150 years of alternative Australian voices, Robyn Archer’s An Australian Songbook is a very personal song selection that convincingly shows how song is the lifeblood of a healthy society, and a mirror to it.

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Ngapa William Cooper 

Adelaide Festival
by
09 March 2023
For anyone who encountered Compassion, the profoundly moving and beautiful song cycle by Lior and Nigel Westlake from a decade ago, the prospect of hearing another work from them was always going to arouse interest. Would their newest collaboration rise to the same magical level as their first, or perhaps even surpass it? Would it be entirely different? ... (read more)

Neil Armfield’s production of Watershed ­– a new oratorio by composer Joe Twist and co-librettists Alana Valentine and Christos Tsolkias about the murder of Ian Duncan by police in Adelaide in 1972 and the subsequent cover-up and campaign for homosexual legal reform – is an angry, brave, beautiful, emotionally shattering, and unexpectedly uplifting work.

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Medea 

Adelaide Festival
by
09 March 2021

In her essay on Akon Guode, the thirty-five-year-old South Sudanese refugee who drowned three of her seven children in April 2015, Helen Garner recalls striking up a conversation with a VCE student about Euripides’ Medea. Garner tells the student, ‘She did a terrible, terrible thing. But she was very badly treated. She was betrayed.’ Before she can go on, the student interrupts her, flushing and leaning forward in her seat. ‘But she was – a mother.’ Garner writes of feeling troubled ‘by the finality of the word “mother”, this great thundering archetype with the power to stop the intellect in its tracks.’  

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A Midsummer Night's Dream 

Adelaide Festival
by
01 March 2021

Comparisons can be odious, odorous, even otiose. Yet while I have lost count of the number of takes on Shakespeare’s play I have seen over the years – theatre, ballet, modern dance, knockabout collages of dance, movement and music, and opera – five stay in the memory. In the order in which I saw them, they are: the first revival at Sadler’s Wells in the mid-1960s of Britten’s 1960 opera, which marked the beginning of James Bowman’s stellar career; Max Reinhardt’s 1935 film; Peter Brook’s version of the play, which redefined it for not just one but several generations; Elijah Moshinsky’s powerfully evocative take on the opera from 1978 (also starring Bowman); and Declan Donnellan’s inspired and laugh-out-loud shaking up of the work for the Donmar Warehouse in the mid-1980s.

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The Boy Who Talked to Dogs 

Adelaide Festival
by
01 March 2021

There is, somewhat surprisingly, a German connection in the otherwise resoundingly Irish The Boy Who Talked to Dogs, the State Theatre Company of South Australia and Slingsby Theatre Company co-production based on Martin McKenna’s memoir about his hardscrabble childhood in 1970s Garryowen. In both the book and the play, adapted by Irish playwright Amy Conroy, we encounter Martin (Bryan Burroughs) as a deeply troubled youth – the ‘smallest, weakest, and scaredest’ of a set of triplets – growing up with German emigrant parents.

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A German Life 

Adelaide Festival
by
01 March 2021

Who in their right mind would want to be running an international arts festival right now? Two months ago I was slated to review four Adelaide Festival shows for this publication. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, two were subsequently cancelled, including Anna Breckon and Nat Randall’s highly anticipated Set Piece. Co-artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy must have been harried during the lead-up to the opening weekend, as national borders continued to snap open and shut like the jaws of a capricious crocodile.

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January 5

We have lost our Hermia, so Sally-Anne Russell comes round to sing for me. She has fished out Benjamin Britten’s Charm of Lullabies and her score of The Rape of Lucretia. We work on both, but particularly on the aria in which poor Lucretia threads together gorgeous lilies into a funeral wreath, her response to what the boastful, ghastly Tarquinius has done to her. Sally-Anne has not sung the opera for twenty-five years, but it sounds as though she’s fresh from recording it, so inside the role is she, so beautiful and rich her voice. I phone Neil Armfield. We have found our Hermia.

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Requiem 

Adelaide Festival
by
06 March 2020

It may be that some members of the audience at Romeo Castellucci’s highly individual take on, and response to, Mozart’s Requiem, experience something similar. I certainly am aware from conversation (and observation) that some audience members did indeed respond to the stage images with closed eyes. But in doing so they denied themselves the opportunity to see and respond to some of the most evocative, poetic, and, yes, musical images seen on the Festival Theatre stage since Bo Holten’s Operation Orfeo back in the 1990s.

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Cock, Cock … Who’s There?

Samira Elagoz/Adelaide Festival
by
04 March 2020

In 2000, Mary Beard, the English scholar and classicist, published an autobiographical essay entitled ‘On Rape’ in the London Review of Books. It blazes, not in intensity of tone, but as writing that refuses to tame itself to one palatable or containable narrative. The essay allows for a space wherein questions are asked and there aren’t always answers, at least not ones that make us complacent. Beard professes to not being ‘particularly traumatised by what happened’ to her younger self, admitting that this might be a result of the experience itself having morphed into different iterations as she retold it to both herself and others. These tellings subsequently become ‘interpretations of what went on, which coexist  ̶  and compete  ̶  with the account’ that she writes in the opening of the piece.

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