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InDaily’s 2016 Adelaide Festival picks

Adelaide Festival

The 2016 Adelaide Festival will feature 30 events – including seven world premieres – over 20 days. Here are some recommendations for every taste.

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The James Plays

This action-packed trilogy about the Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the tumultuous 15th century is epic – if you choose to watch James I, James II and James III all in one day, you’ll be in for an 11-hour marathon. But each one does stand alone.

The National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre of Great Britain co-production was described by one UK reviewer as a “high stakes political thriller that never lets up”, and director Laurie Sansom told InDaily it will appeal to audiences who might usually shy away from Shakespearean or historical drama. Festival Theatre, February 27 – March 1

A scene from James II: Day of the Innocents. Photo: Manuel Harlan

A scene from James II: Day of the Innocents. Photo: Manuel Harlan


A home-grown contemporary dance treat in which ironing boards, books, sofas and tables share the stage with nine talented dancers.

Presented by Adelaide-based Australian Dance Theatre, Habitus explores the relationship between humans and domestic objects, and is infused with a strong sense of humour and whimsy. Read our interview with ADT artistic director Garry Stewart hereSpace Theatre, February 26 – March 5

À Fleur de Peau

The Festival’s official opening-night event at Adelaide Oval has already sold out, but those lucky enough to have tickets can expect an extravaganza featuring fireworks, flames, “explosions of colour”, projections and an original electro-acoustic score. Read more hereAdelaide Oval, February 27

Go Down, Moses

This new work by Italian director Romeo Castellucci won’t be for everyone, but it is likely to prove a hit with those who like their theatre on the existential and provocative side. InDaily reviewer Jo Vabolis describes it as “equal parts brutal and tender, graphic and beautiful”, and suggests audience members need to surrender to the experience to get the most out of it.

Go Down, Moses reflects on the Jewish Exodus from a female perspective, features music from American electro-acoustic composer Scott Gibbons, and comes with an 18+ rating due to its sexual themes, adult themes and nudity. Get an idea of what’s in store on this trailer and learn more in InDaily’s interview with Castellucci hereDunstan Playhouse, February 25-28

Adelaide Writers’ Week

The Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden is like a leafy sanctuary amid the rest of the Mad March (and Feb) festivities, with six days of free open-air sessions featuring authors traversing everything from travel and politics, to romance and murder.

Guests this year include Magda Szubanski, Andrew O’Hagan, Fiona McFarlane, Charlotte Wood, Alexander McCall Smith and Robert Dessaix (whose session is intriguingly titled How Enid Blyton Changed My Life). In this article, Writers’ Week director Laura Kroetsch introduces a few of her favourite lesser-known authors. Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, February 27 – March 3

Crowds at last year's Adelaide Writers' Week. Photo: Shane Reid

Crowds at last year’s Adelaide Writers’ Week. Photo: Shane Reid

2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art

Magic Object is the theme of this year’s Biennial. Curator Lisa Slade promises “illusionism, immersion, beauty and humour”, with artwork from 25 contemporary artists, aged from 27 to 105, across five venues. Slade gives more insight into what exhibition visitors will see here.

Art Gallery of SA, Samstag Museum of Art, Jam Factory, Santos Museum of Economic Botany and Carrick Hill. February 27 – May 15

The Events

Actress Catherine McClements (TV’s Rush and Water Rats) stars as a priest who survives a massacre in this play presented by the State Theatre Company of SA with Sydney’s Belvoir and Melbourne’s Malthouse theatre companies.

It was written by Scottish playwright David Greig in response to the 2011 murders in Norway by Anders Breivik, and explores themes of science, faith and politics. Each night during the Adelaide season, a different community choir will perform on stage as part of the show. Her Majesty’s Theatre, February 25 – March 5

The Young King

Adelaide theatre company Slingsby has transformed the old Dazzeland space in the Myer Centre for what it promises will be an intimate and magical performance of an adaptation of the Oscar Wilde short story The Young King. It is presented as part of the Festival’s schools program, but Slingsby artistic director Andy Packer believes it will also appeal to older audiencesDazzeland, February 27 – March 13

Tim Overton and Jacqy Phillips in The Young King. Photo: Andy Ellis

Tim Overton and Jacqy Phillips in The Young King. Photo: Andy Ellis

Tectonics Adelaide

It’s the orchestra … but not as you know it. After bringing the first Australian incarnation of Tectonics to the 2014 Adelaide Festival, conductor and curator Ilan Volkov returns this year with another two-day program combining electronic composers with orchestral and classical performances.

The first night will premiere new orchestral works by The  Necks and other artists performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, while day two includes a collection of new experimental electronic, chamber and a cappella works. See the full program hereAdelaide Town Hall, March 4-5

Exquisite Corpse

This world premiere of a musical version of the Surrealist game Exquisite Corpse is presented by Adelaide’s Zephyr Quartet. In a process similar to the way in which the paper game is played, 12 composers from Australia and America were invited to create fragments of music that would be combined into one seamless score. The result will be revealed at the Festival show, against a backdrop of live projected art by animators and illustrators Luku and Jo Kerlogue. Space Theatre, March 7-8


We suggested to Golem writer/director Suzanne Andrade that this multi-media show looked trippy, tantalising and a bit twisted. She considered that a huge compliment.

Presented by UK company 1927, Golem combines handmade animation, claymation, live music and performance to tell a dystopian tale centred on binary coder Robert, whose life changes when he acquires the Golem, a creation inspired by Jewish folklore. Dunstan Playhouse, March 8-11

Nelken (Carnations)

This work by the late German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch was an early hit with dance fans, selling 74 per cent of its box office target within eight weeks of the Festival program launch.

Performed by 23 dancers and four stuntmen on a stage covered in silk carnations, with choreography that combines classical dance with theatre and humour, Nelken is presented by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. Festival Theatre, March 9-12


On the last weekend of the Adelaide Festival – and a long weekend, at that – Botanic Park is the place to be to soak up a smorgasbord of world music.

This year’s four-day line-up includes Angelique Kidjo with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, De La Soul, The Cat Empire, Asian Dub Foundation, Saint Germain, Violent Femmes, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and many more. Among those appearing at the Planet Talks will be David Suzuki, Indira Naidoo, First Dog on the Moon and Ross Garnaut.

This year will also see the introduction of a WoMade design market showcasing the work of South Australian designers and makers (more about that here).  Botanic Park, March 11-14

Music fans will converge on Botanic Park this weekend for WOMADelaide. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Music fans at WOMADelaide. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

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