Arts Preview

Arts Down Under 2021: OzAsia Festival lights up tonight with lanterns, performances and more

Screenshot 2021-06-30 at 11.24.08 AM

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – The Adelaide Festival Centre and riverbank precincts will come alive with stunning performances, giant lanterns and much more for the official opening of OzAsia Festival 2021.

With more than 50 events across 18 days, the festival has a range of experiences to offer audiences of all ages – everything from dance, theatre, music and comedy through to community events, visual art, literature and film.

Tonight’s performances by leading contemporary Asian Australian artists include the Australian premiere of acclaimed pianist Belle Chen’s latest work, Destinations, at Her Majesty’s Theatre for one night only.

Chen’s compositions retain the beauty of classical piano while simultaneously traversing avant-garde and electronica to embody the world’s changing natural wonders. Destinations will see her arrangements brought to life in vivid colour with help from immersive visual projections.

The world premiere of Somewhere, Everywhere, Nowhere will see choreographer/dancer Alison Currie and award-winning Japanese soloist Yui Kawaguchi take to the Space Theatre stage for their first-ever collaboration together. Currie and Kawaguchi’s intricate choreography will drift in and out of sync to expose the significant, simple and absurd – all while interacting with an electrifying light installation by Fabian Bleisch.

After a successful opening last night, White Pearl will continue with performances in the Dunstan Playhouse until Saturday. Presented by Sydney Theatre Company and Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta and written by promising young playwright Anchuli Felicia King, White Pearl is a blisteringly funny satire about a skincare company whose new TV commercial goes viral for all the wrong reasons.

“We’re very excited to be presenting OzAsia Festival at such a critical moment for Australia’s engagement with Asia. There’s no better time to ensure the people who best embody that connection – Australians of Asian background – lead the conversation,” says OzAsia Festival Artistic Director Annette Shun Wah. “This year’s distinctive and forward-looking program presents a wealth of exceptional talent and exciting new voices. I invite audiences to enjoy exploring the many treats we have in store over the next three weeks.”

OzAsia Festival’s opening week also features the first round of performances for Open Homes, which invites audiences into the homes of local storytellers across Adelaide from October 22 to November 7.

Free entertainment on offer includes the inaugural Moon Lantern Trail from tonight until Sunday. The interactive trail will begin at Adelaide Festival Centre, with attendees walking past an impressive 40m Hong Kong dragon lantern along the Adelaide Oval footbridge before reaching the main attractions over at Pinky Flat in the riverbank precinct. More than 20 giant lanterns from previous OzAsia Festivals will be on display, along with two new additions – an Adelaide rosella lantern sponsored by Green Adelaide and a moon which will appear to be rising out of the water as it floats on the River Torrens/Karrawirra Pari. 

In a new interpretation of the much-loved Moon Lantern Parade, the Moon Lantern Trail offers four days of celebrations including roving performances and live music. While the event is free to attend, online registrations via the OzAsia Festival website are being encouraged to guarantee admission for the desired day and time.

“As Australia’s leading contemporary arts festival fostering cultural engagement between Australia and Asia, OzAsia Festival is an important celebration of diversity within Australia and artistic excellence,” says Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM. “Artistic Director Annette Shun Wah is our country’s most prominent and respected advocate for Asian Australian artists and their work, and this certainly shines through in the exciting program she has delivered. I look forward to welcoming you all to Adelaide Festival Centre for this spectacular showcase of contemporary Asian Australian performance at its finest.”

Next week’s program highlights include The Special Comedy Special featuring award-winning Australian comedian Dilruk Jayasinha as the headline act at Her Majesty’s Theatre on Saturday, October 30.

The world premiere of Perahu-Perahu will see the ancient Indonesian storytelling technique of shadow play turned on its head for an immersive show in the Space Theatre from October 27-30.

A limited number of tickets are still available to food-meets-storytelling event Double Delicious, a unique culinary and theatrical experience featuring celebrity chef Elizabeth Chong, kimchi master Heather Jeong, writer Benjamin Law, dancer Raghav Handa and Adelaide actor Valerie Berry at the InterContinental Adelaide from October 28-30.

The freshest emcees, singers, musicians and DJs from Darwin and Adelaide will team up for Pinoy Street Party, a joyous celebration of Filipino culture and heritage at Nexus Arts on Friday, October 29.

In the third and final week, dance theatre work TWO will explore the interdisciplinary relationship between contemporary dancer Raghav Handaand maestro tabla musician Maharshi Raval during performances in the Space Theatre on Friday, November 5, and Saturday, November 6.

New writing and ideas program In Other Words (November 5-7) will feature more than 40 of Asia and Australia’s most inspiring contemporary writers and thinkers across more than 20 free sessions presented live from the Dunstan Playhouse. Registrations are now open for those wishing to secure their seats, and unregistered attendees will be admitted subject to capacity.

Throughout the festival, foodies favourite Lucky Dumpling Market will offer a feast for the senses with food vendors and free live music at Elder Park, while art exhibitions on display at Adelaide Festival Centre and other CBD venues include On View: In Translation – a series of cinematic portraits by celebrated choreographer Sue Healey in the new Ian and Pamela Wall Gallery at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Local contemporary arts organisation Nexus Arts will open its two OzAsia Festival exhibitions from today – AEON†: TITAN ARUM and Untitled.Showa, while the Art Gallery of South Australia is hosting visual art events True Self and A Vast Emporium.

Independent cinema Mercury CX is hosting a film program with special screenings until Saturday, November 6, and a celebration of renowned genre-defying cinematographer Wong Kar Wai’s work. After an opening gala held last Saturday, the Wong Kar Wai showcase ends this Saturday with 2013’s The Grandmaster.

OzAsia Festival 2021 runs from 21st October to 7th November 2021. More information available here

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