Perth Festival, Australia’s oldest arts festival, continues to spectacularly refute the notion that Perth lacks culture. For its 65th birthday the festival is bringing more than 700 of the world’s best artists and entertainers to the city and somehow jamming them all into a 24-day program, starting February 9.
The opening event is Siren Song. As demonstrated by last year’s Boorna Waanginy event at Kings Park, creative director Wendy Martin and her team aren’t afraid of thinking big. The 2018 kick-off will be equally ambitious and will see St Georges Terrace turned into a walk-through soundscape as loudspeakers atop city buildings broadcast sounds. Siren Song culminates with a Noongar smoking ceremony, a traditional purification ritual.
Other highlights include Taiwanese drumming and martial arts spectacle Beyond Time; the Syrian street-art and Sufi music mash-up White Spirit; and the theatrical acrobatics of French circus troupe Compagnie XY.
The festival’s artist in residence is Chinese fifth-generation glove puppet theatre master Yeung Fai, who will premiere his autobiographical show, Hand Stories. The theatre program will be headlined by Canadian theatre veteran Robert Lepage and his production The Far Side of the Moon.
This year the writer’s program has been extended to a full week. Among its highlights is WA author Tim Winton, who will preview his new novel The Shepherd’s Hut, a story about lost boys and masculinity.
The artist line-up at Chevron Gardens is as diverse as it is exciting. Artists involved include British rapper Dizzee Rascal and post-rockers Mogwai. A performance from soul veteran Lee Fields will close the festival.
As with previous years, making art accessible and affordable remains one of the festival’s tenets – tickets to many shows are priced at $36 or less.
Perth Festival runs February 9 - March 4. Tickets go on sale Monday November 13. The full program is available online.