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OzAsia unveils 2017 festival program


This year’s OzAsia Festival will feature more than 300 artists across 50 events, including an epic play charting 100 years of Singaporean history, a new dance work by celebrated choreographer Akram Khan and a ‘multi-cultural post-pop collaboration’ featuring Regurgitator.

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OzAsia artistic director Joseph Mitchell says the program, released today, is the largest in the festival’s history.

“As we turn 11 and enter our second decade, the festival program looks towards the future with a selection of works that embrace the bold vision of contemporary Asia in the 21st century.”

Running from September 21 until October 8, it will open with Until the Lions, the latest dance-theatre work by Akram Khan, who as a child performed in Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata.  It features dancers from Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines, as well as live musicians, and retells from the female perspective the Indian story of abducted princess Amba.

Mitchell says 2017’s “big epic” will be Hotel, a play by W!ld Rice Theatre which sees 100 years of Singaporean history unfold in one luxurious hotel. Presented in two parts over five hours, it has a large cast whose members each play several different characters.

“It’s highly emotional and it’s just great theatre,” Mitchell told InDaily.

“This show struck Singaporeans kind of in the way The Secret River affected Australians … if you read the reviews, they say no history book has ever captured their story in the way this play has.”

Other program highlights include The End, a virtual pop opera by composer Keiichiro Shibuya featuring vocaloid Hatsune Miku; Japanese play The Dark Inn, which takes place in a mysterious remote bathhouse and will be presented on a multi-level revolving set at Her Majesty’s Theatre; and After Utopia, a large collection of contemporary South-East Asian art from the Singapore Art Museum which will show at the Samstag.

In a performance called Meeting Points, the Australian Art Orchestra will perform the world premieres of three musical pieces by composers from different parts of the world, including another work by Shibuya performed by a sophisticated robot called Skeleton, while another show at the Space Theatre will see Regurgitator join with China’s Mindy Meng Wang and German-Australian musician Seja to re-interpret the songs from the 1967 Andy Warhol-produced album The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Japanese play The Dark Inn – it’s like something by filmmaker David Lynch, says Joseph Mitchell. Photo: Shinsuke Sugino

Nexus Arts will host a series of other “boundary-pushing” music performances, and the film program will return to the Mercury Cinema with a selection highlighting Iranian independent filmmakers, women directors in Asia and contemporary Singaporean cinema.

A new Lucky Dumpling Market on the Riverbank will serve up street food and live music throughout the festival, with the popular Moon Lantern Festival returning to Elder Park on Sunday, October 1.

The full OzAsia program is available online.

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