Mighty Melbourne Festival
Artists join forces to present a Melbourne Festival for the ages. By Jenny Burns
ORGANISERS OF THIS year’s Melbourne Festival are promising an ambitious, audacious program featuring iconic and spectacular international and local artists and shows.
The festival, on from 4 to 22 October, features more than 65 events covering dance, theatre, contemporary and classical music and visual arts.
“We have searched the world for the most courageous, visionary and ambitious artists who are actively taking on the biggest subjects with flair, excitement and drive,” explained artistic director Jonathan Holloway. “We have drawn together as many of them as possible to create a blockbuster that attempts to remind us all what humankind is capable of. “Nowhere else in the world could you see monumental or seminal works like “Tree of Codes”, “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music”, “Under Siege”, “The Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir” and “Bangsokol” under the same banner and in the same three weeks, but that is what makes Melbourne astonishing. “This year’s festival is the result of collaboration without compromise, of great people bringing out and amplifying the best in other great people.” “Tree of Codes” is a collaboration between choreographer Wayne Mcgregor, visual artist Olafur Eliasson, musician Jamie xx and the Paris Opera Ballet. It’s described as a collision of contemporary ballet, visual art and electronic music. Performance artist Taylor Mac is presenting “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music”, a decade-by-decade walk through America from 1776 to 2016, told through the songs of the time, reinterpreted through ‘a radical queer lens’, and told from the perspective of groups whose stories are often forgotten, dismissed or buried. Renowned choreographer and dancer Yang Liping is presenting “Under Siege”, a tale known in Chinese opera and lore as “Farewell My Concubine”, with a mix of performers from ballet, hip-hop, kung-fu and Peking opera. Stephin Merritt, the mind behind American indie pop band The Magnetic Fields, has created a new set to celebrate his 50th birthday—a song for each year of his existence. He’s singing each of the 50 songs. “A Requiem for Cambodia: Bangsokol” is a new work spanning song, film, dance and voice and is the first orchestral performance that addresses the traumas that
occurred in Cambodia. It marks a first-time collaboration between Oscar-nominated film director Rithy Panh and lauded composer Him Sophy—both survivors of the Khmer Rouge and now at the forefront of Cambodia’s cultural renaissance.
Danish choreographer and dancer Mette Ingvartsen’s “7 Pleasures” investigates the seven roles of pleasure and explores how perceptions of nudity and sexuality have changed over time. Twelve dancers—wearing nothing but what nature gave them—join to form a single organism of ecstatic flesh, the distinction between bodies loses its certainty, and a journey in search of a pleasure beyond one’s own skin begins.
Tom Waits’ “Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets” is a collaboration between the Victorian Opera, Malthouse Theatre, Meow Meow, Paul Capsis, Le Gateau Chocolat and Kanen Breen. The show is a journey through a vivid theatrical landscape that is part gothic, part opera, and all “dance with the devil”.
French artists Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort (from L’amicale De Production) are turning the theory of evolution on its head with one of the most talked-about works of contemporary international theatre, “Germinal”. It asks: what if you had to make everything that ever existed and you only had an hour—how would you do it?
The festival opens Wednesday 4 October with “Tanderrum” —part opening ceremony and part Welcome to Country. “We Love Arabs” is a satirical dance/theatre piece from Israel while Terrence Malick’s film “Voyage of Time” is narrated by Cate Blanchett and features the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing a live score. “The Season” is an Indigenous comedy by writer and performer Nathan Maynard, “Please, Continue (Hamlet)” is a homicide trial with real barristers, judge and court psychologist while “EVER” is a new work from Phillip Adams Balletlab. Musical highlights include Grammy-nominated American soprano Brenda Rae and Dutch pianist Joep Beving, who came to fame after 85 million people watched his music on Spotify.
Taylor Mac. Photo: Teddy Wolff.
“Tree of Codes”. Photo: Ravi Deepres.
“Tanderrum”. Photo: James Henry.
“Under Siege”. Photo: Ding Yi Jie.