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Feast of ideas, art, food and culture

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Feast Festival artistic director Catherine Fitzgerald doesn’t just want to entertain with her 2014 program, she also hopes to stir some strong debate.

The forum component of this year’s queer arts and culture festival, which releases its program today, broaches topical and controversial topics ranging from surrogacy to masculinity and violence in films.

“I’d love it if people go to our forums and there’s rigorous debate, disagreement and passion,” Fitzgerald told InDaily.

“Part of Feast is not just to have fun, but to be challenged and to think. I would like for non-community members to also come along and learn and have their ideas challenged.”

Baby – I Want One Too will feature a diverse panel discussing Australia’s surrogacy laws and different views about surrogacy, while Fight Club – Masculinities, Violence and Fantasy will begin with a screening of the film Fight Club, followed by a discussion about “masculinity, sexuality, fantasy and violence as entertainment” featuring the producer of the film, Ross Grayson Bell, academics, and AFL footballer Henry Slattery.

A community forum at UniSA titled Creating Safe and Inclusive Schools will look at the new Safe Schools Coalition South Australia and feature a panel supporting gender and sexual diversity in schools.

Among the entertainment headliners at the November 15-30 festival will be showgirl icon Carol “Carlotta” Spencer, who is returning to Adelaide for the first time in about 10 years. The former Les Girls star will present her cabaret show Carlotta: Live & Intimate, which includes stories about her life working in Kings Cross in the 1960s and ’70s.

Fitzgerald says another highlight will be Buck Angel, whom the program describes as “the world’s most famous transgender man”. The US porn star, writer and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) advocate will appear at a number of events, including a discussion with Art Gallery of SA director Nick Mitzevich about British artist Marc Quinn’s life-size sculpture of him, which is on display in the gallery.

“He (Angel) is not going to talk to him about his porn history … he’s more interested in being an activist for transgenderism and LGBT rights,” Fitzgerald says.

“What’s wonderful about him is that he doesn’t really take offence to any question that anyone asks … he understands that people are naive and part of his charm is that he answers with great care and understanding.”

2014 Feast ambassador Matthew Mitcham is in Adelaide today to launch the festival program.

2014 Feast ambassador Matthew Mitcham is in Adelaide today to launch the festival program.

The 2014 Feast will also feature South African performer Odidiva, whose Bushwaacking show is said to blend song, slam poetry, hip-hop, stand-up comedy and social commentary; a Nungay Night showcase of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander queer comedy, music, drag and dance; comedian Hannah Gadsby, who is returning with The Exhibitionist, which she debuted at the 2014 Adelaide Fringe, and “polyester prince” Bob Downe’s Bob, Sweat and Tears.

Previously announced shows include Feast ambassador and Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Matthew Mitcham’s Twists & Turns; Adelaide theatre-maker and burlesque performer Maude Davey’s My Life in the Nude, and Scottish singer Horse McDonald.

Feast will feature more than 100 events encompassing music, theatre, dance, comedy, cabaret, literature, film and visual art, including in regional areas of South Australia.

Fitzgerald says the curated program which she introduced last year, her first as artistic director, had proven very successful.

“It meant that first and foremost we were able to pay artists upfront, which makes a difference in terms of who you can attract to the festival. It means we are raising the bar in terms of the artists that want to come and play at Feast … it also means we can get a more balanced program.

“We’ve taken the elements to make it a really rich, excellent-quality festival, but still with its bedrock in the community.”

The theme of the 2014 Feast – INDULGE: a feast for all the senses – capitalises on the fact that people unfamiliar with the festival mistakenly think it is a celebration of food.

A number of events will marry food and drink with art and culture, including a tour beginning with high tea at the Art Gallery restaurant and a look at the Fashion Icons exhibition, followed by a visit to some of Adelaide’s small bars, then champagne at the Apothecary 1878 on Hindley. Drag queen Malt Biscuit and food expert Mary Anne Kennedy will be hosting tours at Adelaide Central Market, and a Food, Frolic and Feast event at Maximilian’s in the Adelaide Hills will combine a feast showcasing local food and wine with baroque music.

Feast moved last year from its previous festival hub in Light Square to a new base in the Lions Arts Centre. This will be the focal point again this year, with a new Indulge Lounge bar and chill-out space, but the centre won’t host the November 15 opening night party following the annual Pride March – instead, that will move to Hindley Street.

“We’ve formed alliances with local street traders and it’s going to be a party to remember,” Fitzgerald says.

“We’re trying to make it more public, more open. The vision is that we will end up taking over the West End each Feast.”

The 2014 Feast Festival will run from November 15-30.

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