The Adelaide Festival of Arts 2015 programme

Adelaide Festival Artistic Director David Sefton. Image: supplied
Adelaide Festival Artistic Director David Sefton. Image: supplied

To a capacity crowd in the William Magarey room of the re-developed Adelaide Oval David Sefton revealed his programme for the 2015 Adelaide Festival of Arts, his third as Artistic Director. In keeping with Sefton’s agreeably idiosyncratic style; a predictably unpredictable collection of art forms are set to dominate the South Australian landscape from 27 February through to 15 March but while Theatre is prominent, Music and Dance take a seminal role.


This Festival’s music programme includes the Australian premiere of Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton A celebration of Hollywood composer Danny Elfman (USA) and his enduring partnership with Tim Burton (USA).  Elfman’s film scores will be performed by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Festival Chorus with visuals of Tim Burton’s original film illustrations on the big screen. The concert will be led by award-winning conductor John Mauceri (USA) with special guest appearances by Elfman himself and Australian songstress Bertie Blackman. The concert will also feature the youngest performer in this year’s festival, nine-year-old Adelaide boy soprano Charlie Wells.

The exclusive world premiere of Tommy (USA), a radical reimagining of The Who’s legendary double-album, is the brainchild of composer and lead performer Eric Mingus (USA) and producer Hal Willner (USA). Tommy will feature 18 musicians, including singer Gavin Friday (IRE), chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan (IRE) and singer/songwriter Harper Simon (USA) son of Paul Simon.

A concert version of the Broadway musical Fela!, Fela! The Concert (USA) traces the remarkable life of Fela Kuti, evoking the spirit of his infamous Afrika Shrine nightclub performances with live music, dance and archival footage.

English composer Gavin Bryars leads a series of concerts and a chamber opera in Gavin Bryars in Residence. Bryars will conduct the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in a performance of his well-known early work Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet; he will perform with the Gavin Bryars Ensemble in two chamber programs and join the Aventa Ensemble (CAN) playing double bass in the Australian premiere of his latest chamber opera Marilyn Forever.

Unsound Adelaide returns across three nights in the Freemasons Hall, with a line-up of electronic and experimental musicians from across the world, including: Model 500 (USA), Fushitsusha (JAP), Shackleton (UK), Mika Vainio (FIN/GER), Forest Swords (UK) and Lawrence English (AUS). While Atom TM (GER/CHL) & Robin Fox (AUS) perform Double Vision, a new collaboration commissioned by Unsound and Adelaide Festival.

Blow the Bloody Doors Off!!. Photo by Bleddyn Butcher, Adelaide Festival of Arts
Blow the Bloody Doors Off!!. Photo by Bleddyn Butcher, Adelaide Festival of Arts

Blow the Bloody Doors Off!! (UK), celebrates the music featured in four of Michael Caine’s most iconic films, Alfie, The Ipcress File, The Italian Job and Get Carter. Musical director and multi-instrumentalist Terry Edwards (UK) leads an ensemble including Adelaide’s Zephyr Quartet in a concert performance hosted by Phill Jupitus (UK) (Never Mind the Buzzcocks), accompanied by scenes from the films.

Richard Thompson Electric Trio (UK) features guitar virtuoso and British folk rock legend Richard Thompson (UK) and his band in concert for one night only. The trio will bring music from across Thomson’s thirty plus years as a solo artist and recent studio album Electric.

One of the world’s greatest pianists Abdullah Ibrahim (ZA) will perform an exclusive solo show in celebration of his 80th birthday and the release of his album, The Song Is My Story.

The Australian String Quartet celebrates their 30th anniversary with Remember Tomorrow, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (CAN) explore music and art in House of Dreams, and over two nights Adelaide Chamber Singers will present Arvo Pärt’s Passio.



While the Dance repertoire is minimal its effect on the overall Festival is potent. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (USA) make their exclusive Australian debut featuring work such as Violet Kid by Hofesh Shechter (ISR), Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue by Crystal Pite (CAN) and Indigo Rose by Jiří Kylián (CZE), as well as an uninterrupted 70 minute performance of Orbo Novo by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (BEL).

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Sharen Bradford, Adelaide Festival of Arts
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Sharen Bradford, Adelaide Festival of Arts


Opening weekend features Azimut (FRA), theatre that explores the Sufi traditions of Moroccan acrobatics, ancient skills honed by devotees since the 16th century from Compagnie 111’s Aurélien Bory and Le Groupe acrobatique de Tanger.

James Joyce’s legendary Finnegans Wake is brought to life in riverrun (IRE), an adaption by Olwen Fouéré (IRE). Fouéré transforms Joyce’s prose into an undulating soundscape, inhabiting the voice of Anna Livia Plurabelle, the river’s personification.

Film, theatre and music collide in Nufonia Must Fall (CAN). World-renowned turntablist, music producer and graphic novelist Kid Koala (Eric San) (CAN) brings his award-winning graphic novel of the same name to life in a multi-disciplinary puppet show, directed by production designer KK Barrett (Her, Being John Malkovich) featuring the Afiara String Quartet (CAN).

One of the UK’s best known disabled performers Mat Fraser, along with American burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz and award-winning director Phelim McDermott (UK) (Shockheaded Peter) have teamed up to create an adult retelling of Beauty and the Beast (UK) which playfully explores disability and sexuality.

The Cardinals, an evangelical puppet show, perform a witty and wordless Biblical odyssey produced by the UK’s Stan’s Cafe.

Azimut. Photo by Agnes Mellon, Adelaide Festival of Arts
Azimut. Photo by Agnes Mellon, Adelaide Festival of Arts

La Merda stars multi-award winning actress Silvia Gallerano (ITA) who portrays a naked and ‘ugly’ actress revealing her revolting secrets in an hour long solo performance written by Cristian Ceresoli (ITA). Valentijn Dhaenens (BEL) follows up his critically acclaimed 2014 season of BigMouth with a companion piece, SmallWaR (BEL), a meditation on the effects of war in the words of those people who have lived through it.

Jack and the Beanstalk (AUS/ITA) plays in The Odeon Theatre in Norwood. A dark interpretation combining theatrical storytelling, physical theatre, live music and puppetry for the whole family it’s recommended for children aged seven and up.

Bob Kingdom (UK) portrays Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in Dylan Thomas – Return Journey (UK). This performance weaves stories about the famous Swansea writer, incisive comments about the American touring circuit and his last, ill-fated lecture tour.

Black Diggers tells the largely untold stories of Indigenous Australian ANZACs in a new work from Queensland Theatre Company, directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Tom Wright.

State Theatre Company of South Australia presents Beckett Triptych, three theatrical gems written by Samuel Beckett and brought together especially for the 2015 Festival.



Blinc, international digital art exhibition involving live performance and audio pieces delivered in conjunction with video, 3D motion graphics, animation, mapped projections, LED installations and 30 watt laser lighting.

The original creators of light based artwork festival Blinc which originated in North Wales in 2011, Joel Cockrill (UK) and Craig Morrison (UK) worked with David Sefton and the festival team to curate a version of the project specifically designed for Adelaide, with a number of works commissioned for the event.

International digital artists showing work at Blinc include: Laszlo Zsolt Bordos (Hun), Casa Magica (GER), Joel Cockrill (UK), Wendy Dawson (UK), Dawn of Man (USA), H C Gilje (NOR), Perry Hall & Elliott Sharp (USA), Hartung & Trenz (GER), Ryoichi Kurokawa (JPN), Jessica Lloyd Jones (UK), Craig Morrison (UK), Murmur (FRA), Tony Oursler (USA), Squidsoup (UK/NZ), Théoriz & BK (FRA), Topla Design (FRA), Sean Vicary (UK) and Cecilia Westerberg (DEN).

Blinc. Photo by Hartung Trenz, Adelaide Festival of Arts
Blinc. Photo by Hartung Trenz, Adelaide Festival of Arts

A collection of seven original works, the broadest selection ever curated in Australia, from world renowned video and sound installation artist Bill Viola (USA) will be presented in three venues. The Art Gallery of South Australia host The Crossing (1996), The Messenger (1996) and will the premiere of Walking on the Edge (2012) and The Encounter (2012).

The historic Queen’s Theatre will be home to Fire Woman (2005) and Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall) (2005) and Three Women (2008) can be seen in the Lady Chapel at St Peter’s Cathedral.

Bill Viola (USA) and his wife, partner and executive director of Bill Viola Studio, Kira Perov (AUS) will be in Adelaide especially for these exhibitions. The two will also be in conversation with David Sefton for a special ticketed event at Radford Auditorium, Art Gallery of South Australia on Saturday 28 February at 2.30pm.

The work of Adelaide-based Magnum photographer Trent Parke will feature in an exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The Black Rose is the culmination of seven year’s work and a meditation on life journeys.

The 2015 programme features 42 music, theatre, dance and visual arts events – a line-up which includes 22 Australian premieres and 26 events exclusive to Adelaide. Adelaide Writers’ Week will celebrate its 30th event in 2015. Guests for that week include renowned chef and author Dan Barber (USA) in his first visit to Australia, British writer John Lanchester, best-selling novelist Tom Rob Smith (UK), and prize-winning biographer Jenny Uglow (UK) as well as playwright Hannie Rayson (AUS).

For further information and bookings go to or call BASS 131 246.

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