It’s always one of the most exciting times of the year. Perth Festival 2020 welcomes everyone to a glorious summer celebration over 24 days and nights from February 7 to March 1, 2020, with more than 250 events across theatre, music, dance, opera, film, visual arts, literature and ideas – many of them free – set to dazzle audiences from near and far.
The list of artists featuring in Perth Festival 2020 is wide ranging, from Neil Gaiman to Meow Meow to Bryony Kimmings to Michael Keegan-Dolan to name only a few, as well as new works that celebrate such diverse influential figures as Gurrumul, Philip Glass, Beethoven and Bon Scott.
The festival is a campfire for sharing stories and inviting belonging, so Perth Festival 2020’s theme is Karla – a Noongar term meaning fire, and by extension country and home. In a first for any major Australian international arts festival, Perth Festival 2020 will celebrate the depth and range of Australian indigenous culture with the entire first week being dedicated to First Nations performances.
“Perth Festival 2020 will be a huge, euphoric celebration of Perth, Western Australia – it’s my home town and I love it,” says new Artistic Director Iain Grandage. “We introduce a sparkling new Festival hub, City of Lights, including our new contemporary music venue Chevron Lighthouse, welcome the return of the much-loved Chamber Music Weekend and premiere exciting new works made especially for you by talented local artists working with artists from across the country and around the world.”
In a landmark event, Perth’s Yirra Yaakin Theatre presents the all-Noongar language Hecate (pictured above) aka The Noongar Shakespeare Project, an adaptation of Macbeth by writer-director and Perth Festival Associate Artist Kylie Bracknell (Kaarljilba Kaardn). The first week also brings us the ravishingly beautiful Bennelong, one of Bangarra Dance Theatre’s most acclaimed shows, and Black Ties, a hilarious comedy about a Māori and Aboriginal couple’s wedding party from Ilbijerri Theatre Company and Te Rēhia Theatre.
A highlight of the opening weekend will be the world premiere season of Buŋgul, which invites us into the culture that inspired Gurrumul’s final album, Djarrimirri (Child of the Rainbow), in an extraordinary live audio-visual spectacular by Yolŋu dancers, songmen and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
Answering the ancient stories of this land is an ancient story from Ireland, MÁM. After the huge success of Swan Lake/Loch na hEalaat the 2019 Festival, Michael Keegan-Dolan and Teaċ Daṁsareturn to the Heath Ledger Theatre with this dance-theatre masterpiece of ritualised ecstasy. Outdoors at the State Theatre Centre, audiences will get up close and personal with the master of rock ‘n’ roll, Hofesh Shechter, as STRUT Dance transforms the Courtyard into a mosh pit of super charged dance. In the Studio Underground, 50 dancers flood the stage in Stephanie Lake’s monumental dance work Colossus.
International brilliance shines in Tao of Glass. Performer-director Phelim McDermott, of the UK theatre group Improbable, teams up with composer Philip Glass and an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers for a gorgeous theatrical odyssey through Glass’s music. It was the hit of the 2019 Manchester International Festival. And Bryony Kimmings, last in Perth in 2015 with her sell-out seasons of Fake It ‘Til You Make It and Sex Idiot, returns to us with her Edinburgh Fringe stand-out hit I’m a Phoenix, Bitch. This is just one of many Festival works that explore women and power.
Perth Festival 2020’s program of more than 250 events runs from February 7 to March 1, 2020. For more information, click here.