2014 Perth Festival Opens Tonight

Perth International Arts Festival is the longest running and best loved international arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere.

This year is the 62nd annual Festival. In 2013 Festival shows sold more than $5 million worth of tickets, with attendances of over 500,000 from a city of under 2 million people: we sell more tickets per capita than any international arts festival in Australia.

The 62nd Perth Festival kicks off on Friday, 7 February and runs until 1 March. The diverse program offers a world-class cultural feast for arts lovers of all ages and persuasions. In a quintessentially Western Australian experience, more than 1000 of the world's most exciting contemporary artists transform and disrupt Perth as the Festival spills across unique venues and glorious, outdoor spaces. Living up to its worldwide reputation for excellence, in 2014 the Festival delivers a program of unforgettable, enriching works, created by artists who are daring, thoughtful, and innovative, with 26 Australian exclusives, 33 Australian premieres and two world premieres.

Perth Festival Artistic Director Jonathan Holloway said: "The 2014 Perth Festival collaborates with the world's greatest artists and many of Western Australia's most creative and talented people to find new and exciting ways to create a Festival in and of Perth. Joining us in our exploration of what it is to be a 21st Century festival in the remotest and yet most connected capital city in the Southern Hemisphere are Robert Wilson, Dawn Upshaw, Martin Amis, The National, William Kentridge, Tod Machover and Public Enemy, to name just 20 of the 1000+ artistic collaborators."

The 2014 Festival explodes in a spectacle of wonder with the Lotterywest Festival Spectacular Veles e Vents, supported by Eventscorp. For three nights over the opening weekend, the Spanish masters of public theatre take to the seas and the sky, recreating a ship's grand and perilous voyage in a sublime visual display of fireworks and light. Suitable for the whole family, the exclusive Australian premiere promises to kick off the 2014 Festival with an explosion of music and movement.

The Festival's free program takes art to the people as the streets of Perth are playfully transformed and life re-imagined. Sam Routledge & Martyn Coutts' I Think I Can brings avatars to life in an enchanted model town. The Lotterywest Festival Celebration, Jeremy Deller's Sacrilege, invites Festival goers to literally leap into ancient history, re-creating Stonehenge as a full-scale bouncy castle. The Chevron Festival Gardens become the ambient Festival hub as guests gather, discuss and participate, with free entry to the Garden from 5pm until late Wednesday-Saturday and 6.30pm until late Sunday-Tuesday.

The 2014 Theatre and Circus program traverses the spectrum from the gritty to the surreal, inviting the world's most acclaimed performers to the Australian stage. Modern master of the Russian avant-garde, Dmitry Krymov, makes his Australian debut with A Midsummer Night's Dream (As You Like It), a whirling re-imagining of history's first great love story, that of Pyramus and Thisbe. From Israel comes the Australian premiere of Not by Bread Alone: 11 deaf-blind actors take audiences on a profoundly moving journey through their inner world, as bread is kneaded, formed and baked on stage. Raw and explosive, South Africa's Yael Farber adapts Strindberg's classic Miss Julie to post-apartheid South Africa in Mies Julie, revealing theatre at its most potent. Theatre genius Robert Wilson returns to Perth in the exclusive Australian premiere of Samuel Beckett's blackly comic masterpiece, Krapp's Last Tape. From New York, Perth welcomes An Iliad, superstar Denis O'Hare's riveting one-man performance of Homer's Trojan epic. The UK's internationally renowned NoFit State Circus brings circus as you've never seen it with the Australian premiere of Bianco, a graceful, aerial adventure of drama and breathtaking ability which immerses the audience in the action.

Further highlights include two Festival co-commissions. Malthouse Theatre's The Shadow King is an explosive interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear, melding contemporary Aboriginal storytelling in a blood-soaked interrogation of kinship, land and belonging. Co-commissioned by the Festival, Opus fuses the contemporary circus of Australia's finest, Circa, with dynamic music of Shostakovitch performed by France's Debussy String Quartet. You Once Said Yes is unforgettable one-on-one theatre. As part of our Vital Stages program, we bring Look Left Look Right together with Western Australian artists to create a thrilling theatrical experience for the people of Perth. One of the most exciting theatre collectives in the world, Germany's Rimini Protokoll presents the Australian exclusive of Situation Rooms. In this multi-dimensional, interactive documentary theatre experience, audiences explore a maze of stories from people whose lives have been touched by the weapons industry. This is theatre like you've never experienced it before.

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