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.

Perth Festival creates extraordinary arts experiences for all audiences with many works dedicated to children and young people. The Australian premiere of The House Where Winter Lives is a whimsical, interactive theatre experience for children from cult UK theatre-makers Punchdrunk. As a discovered scrapbook comes alive, the Australian premiere of Shona Reppe's The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean is a wild, detective hunt of sensory delight. Australia's Barking Gecko Theatre Company present ONEFIVEZEROSEVEN, a highly physical and ultimately moving step into the inner sanctum of Australian teenagers. From Belgium's Compagnie Chaliwaté comes the search for precious water in Îlo, a silent, dreamlike work of witty and hypnotic physical comedy. Rediscover a sense of magic with the Perth Festival programming for the young and young at heart.

The 2014 dance program is equal parts celebratory, political and sensual. Honouring 50 years of Israel's visionary and internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company, the Festival presents the Australian premieres of two captivating productions, Deca Dance and Sadeh21. In an Australian exclusive, the Beijing Dance Company presents Haze, a choreographic work of rapturous beauty that channels China's struggle with centuries-old traditions and its headlong rush into the future. From the world-class maverick of flamenco, Israel Galvan's La Curva presents a seductive re-interpretation of the flamenco tradition.
The West Australian Ballet delivers an Australian premiere as part of its beloved Ballet At The Quarry summer season with Radio and Juliet, the bold revision of Romeo and Juliet with the music of indie darlings Radiohead as its centerpiece.

In 2014, the Perth International Arts Festival thrills classical music lovers, as brilliant international ensembles team up with dazzling Australian talent to produce a number of very special collaborations. Staged in Perth for the first time, Verdi's stunning, final tragic opera, Otello, is performed by the West Australian Opera with guests from the Cape Town Opera Chorus. The breathtaking Cape Town Opera's Voice of the Nation Ensemble, winners of the 2013 International Opera Awards Chorus of the Year, showcase repertoire from the great romantic operas and spiritual songs from Africa and America. In an exquisite pairing, world-renowned soprano Dawn Upshaw joins the much-lauded Australian Chamber Orchestra to perform Maria Schneider's triple Grammy winning Winter Morning Walks. Delighting audiences for six decades with their free-spirited yet polished playing, the brilliant Academy of St Martin in the Fields orchestra is joined by exhilarating, young violinist Michael Barenboim. From Budapest, the Kelemen Quartet combine youthful brilliance with the finest Hungarian tradition, performing the world premiere of beloved Australian composer Ross Edwards' Summer Dance. Revel in the transporting virtuosity of critically acclaimed Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi, showcasing from the latest of his 11 record-breaking albums, weaving baroque, Italian folk and late Romantic string textures in his phenomenal and distinctive style.

Over 24 nights, Perth will rock throughout the Festival to an eclectic selection of sounds tracing soul to hip-hop, indie rock to electronica. Highlights include Brooklyn-based indie rock luminaries The National as they return to Perth for one night only, showing why they are one of the most enigmatic bands in the world right now. Modern soul legend Booker T Jones celebrates a lifetime of soul. Bouncing in the Chevron Festival Gardens Mainstage come hip-hop royalty Public Enemy, ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the 50 greatest artists of all time. Soul-jazz pioneer Grammy Award winner Robert Glasper Experiment onstage in an unforgettable, experimental fusion of hip-hop, jazz and R&B. American songstress Madeleine Peyroux's impeccable smoke-and-whisky vocals will captivate audiences. Ireland's Altan incorporate fiddles, guitar and bouzouki to imbue the music of their homeland with a fresh and bewitching charm. Canadian six-piece will Austra lead you straight to the dance floor with their wild, genre-bending jumble of moody electronica to operatic flair.

The 2014 Visual Arts program is studded with experiential, world-class contemporary art that reflects on modernity to the present day. In an Australian premiere, highly regarded South Korean artist Do Hu Suh's poetic work, Net-Work, is a vast net enmeshed with tiny human figures washing against the shoreline, evoking ideas of physical and cultural displacement. Compelling South African artist William Kentridge's The Refusal of Time is a multi-disciplinary installation that combines video, theatre, music and animation, as shadow dancers and the artist himself move around a sculptural 'breathing machine' situated at the work's heart. Collaborating under the name Paramodel, Yasuhiko Hayashi and Yusuke Nakano design rooms of fantastical, meticulously detailed landscapes from mass-produced toys and plastic train tracks in Paramodelic-Graffiti. Also from Japan, Ryota Kawakubo's The Tenth Sentiment is a mesmeric installation of dancing shadows and light that transforms everyday artefacts under the headlights of a single modern train.

Perth Writers Festival (20 Feb - 23 Feb) is the hub of Festival discussion and discourse. Join a stellar line-up of authors, readers and thinkers in this much-loved celebration of the written word. A thought-provoking opening address by best-selling novelist Lionel Shriver examines the intersection of literature and religion, and a closing address on the tenuousness of life and love from one of Australia's great novelists, Richard Flanagan, will bookend an incredible weekend of literary events. Other writers attending include literary giant and British provocateur Martin Amis; prolific British novelist, biographer and critic and Order of the British Empire recipient Margaret Drabble; and Stella Prize winner Carrie Tiffany. And in a first for the Perth Writers Festival, The Game Changers explores the thriving artform of gaming with a line-up of the world's hottest creators, designers and writers.

Lotterywest Festival Films offer a handpicked selection of the best of World and Australian cinema. Among the highlights is the world premiere of the Perth Festival co-commission Coast, a musical and cinematic love letter to the Australian coastline featuring the world premiere of Girt By Sea, a poetic, collage of archival images with a live score composed and performed by The Panics. J. C. Chandor's All is Lost, featuring a tour-de-force performance from screen legend Robert Redford, continues this week at Somerville and next week at Joondalup Pines, while Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's The Past screens this week at Joondalup.

In a fitting Festival finale, the Perth International Arts Festival presents Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea, A Symphony for Perth. In the months leading up to the Festival, the people of Perth have sent us their personal sounds of Perth, which are being crafted by Tod Machover and played live for the first time by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in an epic, interactive musical feast on the Festival's last night.

BOOKINGS AND FESTIVAL INFO: 08 6488 5555 • perthfestival.com.au

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