12-28 October 2006
The 2006 Melbourne International Arts Festival begins on October 12. Artistic Director Kristy Edmunds and her team have created a challenging, contemporary program that is vibrant and inspiring.
There is the usual degree of media controversy about this year’s offering. The Age described it as straying too far from the “traditional mix” and catering to “too few”. There were similar criticisms about Edmunds’ first program in 2005. However, I saw a lot of shows in that festival and they all had full houses and cheering audiences.
The 2005 program was filled with unfamiliar artists and companies, but they gave us unforgettable experiences and their work has become part of our local artistic language. The unknown gave us the freedom to enjoy the pure emotion created by art. I remember tears at Le Dernier Caravansérail (Odysées) (Théâtre du Soleil) and tears of laughter at Bloody Mess (Forced Entertainment). Thank you Kristy for straying from the “traditional mix” and letting us experience the authentic and the heartfelt.
So what does 2006 have to offer?
The program has a strong focus on collaboration across art forms and among artists. It explores artistic practice by rejecting barriers of culture, form, language, belief and place. By doing so, artists create new art forms and challenge our aesthetics. Robert Wilson invents colour (I La Galigo), Marie Brassard lets us hear human thoughts (Peepshow), Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto explore what music might look like (insen).
Australian art is presented with the same passion as the best international companies and artists. There are many Australian artists appearing, but they are not segregated as the “local” program. This is a truly international program, with no “us” and “them”.
With an extensive free program, you don’t have to spend to indulge in this event. Visit the Mostlandian Embassy, walk around the Visual Arts exhibitions and don’t miss Of All The People In All The World: Pacific Rim (Stan’s Café). There is also a selection of discount ticket packages available, and local artists can apply for an artist card that entitles them to discounted tickets and entry to the Festival’s artist lounge.
Children are encouraged to create their own art. Following the success of last year’s Kids Club is The Clubhouse – a purpose built venue just for younger audiences to enjoy workshops and performances. I was one of the very few adults privileged to see the Kids Club. It was encouraging, nurturing and just so much fun – children did not want to leave. This year kids can also take their grown ups to the interactive Children’s Cheering Carpet (Teatro di Piazza o d'Occasione) and on the kids’ Visual Arts trail.
Last year Kristy proved that she respects the festival audience and trusts us to find our own path in the program. So, trust this Artistic Director, grab the festival guide and take a chance on someone you are not yet familiar with. My path looks kind of like this:
George Orwell’s 1984 (The Actors Gang). Tim Robbins’ company (yes - the one from the movies). Their mission is to bring socially relevant theatre to a broad public. 1984 reminds us of where we could be without he freedom to express our opinions.
I La Galigo (Robert Wilson). Robert Wilson is one of the creators of Einstein On The Beach. If, like me, you sat mesmerised at the MIAF performances in 1992, you know that a Robert Wilson production is unmissable. If you saw Absolute Wilson at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival, this is your chance to experience the theatre he creates. I La Galigo is unique, visionary theatre that truly overcomes limits off belief, country and aesthetic. A cast of over 50 Indonesian performers present the epic poem, Sureq Galigo. This may mean very little to us now, but I believe it will be etched into our hearts by the end of the performance. Earlier this week I spoke to the Assistant Director about the creation of the work and what it was like to work with Wilson. Look out for the full story soon.
Blind Date (Bill T Jones/Anrie Zane Dance Company). A multinational company that explore national identity by melding dance with video, live music and monologue.
Voyage (dump type). This Japanese collective create surreal and illusionary work that merges all disciplines.
Ngapartji Ngapartji means, “I give you something, you give me something”. This project has always been one of sharing culture, language and stories. With a cast including elders and young people from the Pitjantjatjara community, the work in progress performance sold out last year. This year we see the world premiere of an epic Australian story that blends the familiar with the unfamiliar. Look out for Christina Cass’ interview with the company in the coming weeks.
Peepshow. Marie Brassard peeps into the forbidden - the perversons, deviations and vargaries of love. Intriguing enough – but it also uses digital technology to totally re-mix Bressard’s voice.
Tragedia Endogonidia BR.#04 Brussels (Societás Raffaello Sanzio). Text is abandoned as a powerful physical language unfolds. A world of emptiness, devoid of warmth. This is not for the faint hearted.
blessing the boats. When poet Sekou Sundiata needed a kidney, five of his friends volunteered theirs. He tells his very personal story by simply talking to us.
Mantalk (Thomas and Wells). This project starts with episodes 4 to 7 at the Melbourne Fringe. If you enjoy it, then episodes 11 to 16 continue at the Festival.
insen (Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto). Acoustic piano and electronic music. Two generations of artists explore new musical structures. Remember the soundtrack to Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence? Sakamoto composed it.
Ethel. Forget what you think string quartet should be – just come and experience their “distinctive fun, spunk and groove”.
The Ringtone Society. Bringing together adventurous musicians and composers to create a new and unique musical form – the ringtone. And we can download them to our phones.
The Tulse Luper Suitcase Film Trilogy (Peter Greenaway). Promising to be “even more unorthadox than his previous work” . If you like Greenaway – what more do you need to know! Apart from - there is an interactive online game that accompanies the films.
This story originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.