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Perth International Arts Festival Launches 2017 Program


Perth International Arts Festival Artistic Director Wendy Martin has unveiled a world-class program of art without borders, inviting us to travel to extraordinary places with the most brilliant artists as our guides.

From 10 February to 5 March, more than 700 of the planet's most visionary artists will transform the city with more than 180 events and create new pathways for us to see, understand and re-imagine our world.

PIAF 2017 welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors to share in 11 Australian exclusives, five world premieres and a superb array of unforgettable artistic experiences.

Themes of migration, reconciliation, accessibility and empathy run through a Festival for all tastes and senses. It even has its own official scent; lemon myrtle will pervade venues and influence menus across the city over the 24 days and nights of PIAF.

PIAF is the longest running annual multi-arts celebration in the Southern Hemisphere, and the jewel in the crown of Western Australia's cultural life.

The 65th annual Festival is the second of four under Wendy's artistic leadership. Her first Festival in 2016 was inspired by a sense of place and PIAF 2017 will embed all of us even deeper into Western Australia; its beauty, fragility and connection to a complex world.

'Imagination knows no borders,' Wendy said. 'This has been the heartbeat of PIAF for more than six decades. In a world where we're constantly communicating but not truly connecting, the Festival brings us together to share exceptional experiences.'

In a quintessentially WA summer experience, the 65th Festival encompasses unique venues and spaces that take advantage of glorious outdoor settings, including the Festival's revamped home for contemporary music at Elizabeth Quay and one of the largest inner city parks in the world, Kings Park.

The 2017 Lotterywest Festival Opening is the epic celebration of landscape, culture and community, Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak. After opening the 2016 Festival with the majestic part-concert, part-visual arts installation Home, the grand public-performance maestro Nigel Jamieson is collaborating again with Noongar elders, as well as storytellers, artists, botanists and scientists to transform Kings Park into a cathedral of light, sound and imagery over three unforgettable nights.

Combining the natural world with state-of-the-art technology, this spectacular walk-through experience explores the biodiversity and beauty of the six seasons of Noongar culture, culminating in a collective artwork made in collaboration with thousands of young people across the State. Suitable for the entire family, the magical opening event created by Western Australian artists is an homage beautiful but fragile world we share in the South West, one of the world's biodiversity hot spots.

'This unique experience of wonder and interconnectedness will be the start of a Festival journey that will see big-picture stories played out through personal perspectives,' Wendy says.

'Together, we will take a head-trip deep into the Amazon, experience Vietnamese village life through astonishing circus feats and enter the ritual world of South African song and dance.'

'We will see the world from the perspective of artists with disability, share our stories of precious water, spend a year in the life of an American family confounded by the changing world, enter the tortured mind of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and join an unruly music class in a far-off Indian village. It's time to plan your 2017 PIAF big, bold adventure and immerse yourself in art without borders.'

The 2017 Theatre program dazzles with a bounty of experiences both epic and intimate. In a must-see Festival highlight, the Australian exclusive ofTony Award-winning playwright and director Richard Nelson's strikingly relevant and fiercely human trilogy, The Public Theater's The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family, comes to Perth, where guests experience the three plays as one unforgettable, eight-hour marathon event.

On an equally grand scale, the PIAF co-commission Lady Eats Apple, a new major work by Victoria's renownedBack to Back Theatre, is set inside a vast inflatable theatre within a theatre, transporting audiences on a journey of mythical proportions.Award-winning British composer and Lau's visionary accordionist, Martin Green, brings a supergroup of world-class collaborators for the PIAF co-commission and Australian-exclusive live music and breathtaking animation event Flit, a darkly atmospheric song cycle on historic and contemporary migration. In The Dark Mirror: Zender's Winterreise, celebratEd English tenor and Schubert scholar Ian Bostridge pairs up with one of the most acclaimed opera directors on the international scene, Netia Jones, for a stunning re-imagining of Schubert's Die Winterreise, with members of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Commissioned by the Barbican London, this post-Weimar cabaret song cycle combining sublime singing and haunting visuals makes its Australian exclusive performance direct from a string of sold-out performances in London.

Further international highlights include Opus No. 7, a visceral and visually majestic production, exclusive to PIAF, by one of Russia's most influential directorial voices, Dmitry Krymov Laboratory, which imaginatively depicts the oppression of Soviet Jews and the censorship of the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich under Stalin. From the UK, Complicite's The Encounter is a mind-bending performance of technical prowess that ventures on a hallucinogenic trip into the depths of the Amazon. Using groundbreaking binaural technology, The Encounter builds an evocative, 3D world of live and recorded sound, resulting in a profoundly immersive theatrical experience. In another Australian exclusive, Argentinian director Lola Arias explores a nation's complex history through the eyes of a resilient Chilean generation in The Year I Was Born; a playful and political docudrama full of recollected delight and devastation.

Excellence and accessibility abounds as the 2017 Festival creates extraordinary arts experiences for all audiences with many works dedicated to the young and young at heart. Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam make their Australian debut with the Australian exclusive A O Lang Pho, a breathtaking production of contemporary circus accompanied by live music and a cast of 15 acrobats and five musicians that celebrates the culture of Vietnam and turns tradition on its head.

India's Roysten Abel returns to Perth to present School of Rock, Indian folk style, with the Australian premiere of The Manganiyar Classroom, another exuberant and energetic production of musical theatre, which spotlights the rich Manganiyar musical tradition as a class of children rebel against their teacher.

Making its world premiere, Western Australia's own Alex Desebrock's Small Voices Louder is a participatory children-only event that invites youngsters to explore an interactive installation of cupboards and cubby holes and encourages them to voice their opinions on the world's big questions, before broadcasting their responses throughout the Festival in surprising ways. Children hobnob with their literary heroes at the Perth Writers Festival Family Day, a free day of storytelling, workshops, performances and festivities, featuring author of the Inkheart trilogy, Cornelia Funke, steampunk-inspired Mechanica author and illustrator Lance Balchin; global bestselling, young-adult fantasy author Garth Nix (The Old Kingdom, the Seventh Tower series) and more.

As the PIAF 2017 Artist in Residence, award-winning poet, designer, playwright and performer Inua Ellams brings two shows to Perth. Ellams performs the Australian exclusive of his acclaimed autobiographical solo show and masterpiece of storytelling, An Evening With An Immigrant, and the nocturnal urban excursion,The Midnight Run, collaborating with WA's acclaimed The Last Great Hunt - as well as conducting poetry and basketball workshops with WA youth.Born in Nigeria to a Muslim father and Christian mother, Ellams fled with his family to England at age 12. Identity, displacement and destiny are recurring themes in his work, which combines the old and the new, traditional African storytelling with contemporary poetry and digital imagery, to beguiling effect.

Fellow PIAF Artist in Residence Amy Sharrocks invites guests to Leighton Beach and other iconic locations to contribute their own water - tears, creek water, dirty suds - as she builds the WA-edition of the award-winningMuseum of Waterover the next two years. With every drop telling a story, members of the public will be encouraged to donate a vessel of water and the story that comes with them to create a radically different kind of museum for the driest State in the driest continent on Earth.

In 2017, the Festival's Dance program invites the world's most sought-after choreographers and dancers to Australian shores. From two of Canada's most adventurous artists, award-winning choreographer Crystal Pite and playwright/performer Jonathon Young, Betroffenheit is a dance work of raw human emotion and heroic theatrical brilliance that places audiences in the wake of a disaster, accompanied by a crisis-management team. Bodies talk with heart-wrenching eloquence in this thrillingly imaginative Australian premiere.

In an Australian exclusive, leading South African choreographer and gifted dancer Gregory Maqoma pays homage to his ancestor, a revered Xhosa warrior chief who lost everything to the British and died imprisoned, in Exit/Exist. A celebration of spirit and resilience and a mesmerising fusion of traditional African and contemporary European music and dance with gorgeous live singing from The Vuyani Ensemble AnTony Hamilton and Alisdair Macindoe present Meeting, a synchronised meeting of minds and machines from two of Australia's most brilliant choreographer/dancers. The West Australian Ballet returns with its much-loved Ballet At The Quarry summer season under the stars, presenting a program of Australian and world premieres from three distinctive choreographers: Colombian-Belgian Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, the Canadian-born Eric Gauthier and WAB's very own Christopher Hill.

Over four days, the 2017 Perth Writers Festival brings a feast of international and Australian writers, artists and activists to Perth, with an empathic eye to the experiences of the contemporary world.Words and ideas fly off the page and onto the stage in the exciting new Festival event Courtyard Sessions, with two nights of slam poetry, music, hip hop and comedy, hosted by ABC TV's BlackComedy writer and star Nakkiah Lui and featuring spoken word artists like Omar Musa, a performance of Nick Earls' linked novellas, Wisdom Tree, and a special Perth Writers Festival edition of Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire's smash-hit show Women of Letters.

A compelling and morally urgent opening address by writer and researcher Ben Rawlence(City of Thorns) on the lives of the inhabitants of the world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab in Northern Kenya and a closing address on the role of the built environment in reconstructing displaced lives and communities from Syrian architect and memoirist Marwa al-Sabouni (The Battle for Home).

Bookend an illuminating weekend of literary events and discussions, with further writers attending including Canadian Booker Prize-nominated short-story writer and novelist Madeleine Thien (Do We Say We Have Nothing; Dogs at the Perimeter); Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Jane Smiley (The Golden Age); Nigerian-American writer Chinelo Okparanta (Under the Udala Trees); and Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra(My Documents; Ways of Going Home).

The Lotterywest Festival Films launches on 28 November with the first of a two-part season of the world's best new films, all making their West Australian premieres, as well as a retrospective dedicated to two of Australia's finest filmmakers, Rolf de Heer and Molly Reynolds. With screenings under the stars at Somerville and ECU Joondalup Pines, three Australian premieres in the first season alone are among the many highlights for cinema-lovers, which include the droll and delightful Paterson by cult American director Jim Jarmusch, who captures life's daily joys and mishaps through the eyes of a bus driver (Adam Driver); from Germany, Maren Ade's hysterical festival favourite Toni Erdmann features the crass alter-ego of a recently retired schoolteacher; the latest animated classic from Studio Ghibli, Michaël Dudok de Wit'sThe Red Turtle, which follows a man washed up on a desert island who is barred from leaving by a powerful turtle; Chilean director Pablo Larrain's playfully brilliant Neruda, starring Gael Garcia Bernal as the eponymous, adored Chilean poet who flees an arrest warrant from the ring-wing government by hiding out in the Argentine mountains; and Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's latest, Julieta, a Hitchcockian adaptation of Alice Munro's stories.

Over 21 nights, the Chevron Festival Gardens is the destination for festival-goers to experience extraordinary live music - spanning from Columbian salsa to avant-pop, Americana and South Korean experimental rock. Highlights include the blazing Birmingham-born rapper Lady Leshurr; charismatic musical chameleon Toro Y Moi; LA-based art rock quartet Warpaint; awe-inspiring post-rockersExplosions in the Sky; world-feted Cuban jazz fusion from Omar Sosa Quarteto Afrocubano; Pitchfork-endorsed, indie rocker Kurt Vile; Spain's tropicalia partystarter El Guincho; South Korea's ferocious post-rock experimentalists, Jambinai; one of the world's hottest jazz ensembles direct from NYC, Evan Sherman Big Band; Morcheeba's reimagined downtempo soul and trip-hop combo, Skye & Ross; Brooklyn's newest indie darlings, Big Thief; and feisty rising Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes.

The 2017 Festival Classical Music programtriumphs with the 2017 Chamber Music Series, a dedicated series of 15 stellar events over four days that takes place inside the stunning Winthrop Hall and its lush gardens as well as in the Government House Ballroom. Covering an immense repertoire, the series kicks off with an unmissable world exclusive: two of the world's most exceptional string quartets - the Brodsky & Calder Quartets - join forces to showcase perennial favourites alongside Mendelssohn's masterwork Octet in E-flat major for one concert only, as well as performing individually. In an Australian exclusive, a companion piece for Dmitry Krymov Lab'sOpus No 7, the legendary Brodsky Quartet (UK) present the complete 15 string quartets that make up the 'Shostakovich Cycle' over five concerts, and the LA-based Calder Quartet present Beethoven and Beyond, combining Beethoven's iconic repertoire with contemporary works over three concerts.

Transcending the classical concert experience, Soft Soft Loud: Future Shockseesrenowned electro-acoustic composer William Britelle bridge the gap between pop music and New York's downtown classical music scene in the latest in Fremantle Arts Centre's annual program of cross-genre collaborations.

Making their Australian premiere, the four-time Grammy Award-winning sextet Eighth Blackbird combines the finesse of a string quartet with the energy of a rock band, performing contemporary gems by Muhly, Dessner, Hearne and Andres, and a world premiere by Australian composer Holly Harrison.In an Australian exclusive, the uplifting vocals of the Vuyani Ensemble evoke the sounds and spirit of South Africa as they perform an eclectic mix of compositions, from traditional songs to Afro-reggae, with West African and Latin influences. Linking up some of Australia's greatest chamber music talent, the renowned Australian String Quartet (ASQ) pair up with energetic young talents Arcadia Wings for two concerts at Winthrop Hall with a dynamic repertoire that moves from the beloved Britten Sinfonietta and Mozart Flute Quartet to works by Françaix, Smalley and Martin?.

The 2017 Visual Arts programplaces hot international contemporary art alongside celebrated local talent, with a special focus on video art and VR technology that plumbs deep emotions and traditions. In an Australian exclusive, leading British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah presents two film installations: Vertigo Sea, an immersive and poetic meditation on our relationship with the ocean, and Auto Da Fé, a fictional narrative that examines migration over four centuries.

From acclaimed Australian artist Lynette Walworth, Collisions transports audiences to sacred land on a groundbreaking virtual reality journey led by Martu elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan. In the video installation Forgiving Night For Day, Perth artist Jacobus Capone contemplates the poetic Portuguese word suadede, an expression of deep nostalgia and yearning, by filming in the streets of Lisbon at dawn. Celebrating women and belonging, Before the Siren is a timely exploration of how women gather socially, politically and recreationally across generations. Making its world premiere, is a free, large-scale public artwork that culminates in a huge party at Fremantle Oval,created by Melbourne artist Lara Thoms and Perth collaborative duo Snapcat and commissioned by PIAF.

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