The 2016 Adelaide Festival of Arts Programme

David Sefton has revealed the programme for his 4th and final as the Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival of Arts in 2016. Sefton stated, “For my last hurrah, I’ve brought together a slate of the world’s very best large-scale and ambitious performances exclusively to Adelaide. Alongside this I’m also delighted to be presenting a broad and impressive selection of South Australia’s finest artists.”

Adelaide Festival Artistic Director David Sefton. Image: supplied

The Programme features 30 theatre, music, dance and visual arts events, which includes 7 world premieres, 21 Australian premieres and 20 events exclusive to Adelaide from 26 February to 14 March.


The Shakesperean concept again dominates the Festival’s theatrical offering with Rona Munro’s The James Plays tipping the scales at around 11 hours. The award-winning epic from the National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre of Great Britain makes its Australian debut exploring the royal games, power struggles and the battles for the throne of the three Stewart kings.

Italian director Romeo Castellucci brings his latest work Go Down, Moses to the Festival, promising to explore existential doubts and uncertainties from the Old Testament Book of Exodus in a meditation on the human psyche.

Synchronising live music, stylised performance and handmade animation, 1927’s (UK) dystopian fable Golem declares it will send you headfirst through the looking glass. A visually arresting work, which explores the human relationship with technology and the obvious question – who or what, is in control?

Local theatre work Deluge by new South Australian theatre company, Tiny Bricks, examines how the human psyche is being transformed in a world of rapidly rising information (or disinformation). The show weaves together five different narratives, played out simultaneously, as 10 characters attempt to find meaning and connection without being drowned out by the world.

For the first time in Australia the Broadway version of the internationally acclaimed Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, as well as its underwater sequel, the brand new Prehistoric Aquarium, plays at the Norwood Concert Hall.

Adelaide theatre makers Slingsby present the world premiere of The Young King by Oscar Wilde, a family-friendly production staged at the former Dazzeland amusement complex in Adelaide’s Myer Centre.

British playwright Martin Crimp’s, The Country is the latest adaptation from theatre and dance creative team Jo Stone and Paulo Castro. A cryptic thriller set against an idyllic rural backdrop, where stability and serenity make way for suspicion and deceit.

The State Theatre Company of South Australia production of The Events follows a community’s search for compassion, peace and understanding in the wake of unthinkable violence. Opening on a community choir rehearsal, the play will showcase a different local choir each night, in a fusion of theatre and music.


Pina Bauschs Nelken (GER), meaning carnations, will make its Australian debut at the Festival. Performed by 23 dancers and 4 professional stuntmen atop thousands of pink carnations that carpet the stage.

Co-commissioned by the Adelaide Festival of Arts, contemporary dance juggernaut monumental makes its Australian debut in 2016. The last show created by Canadian dance company The Holy Body Tattoo, monumental makes everyday movements extraordinary and features live music from Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Australian Dance Theatre presents the world premiere of Habitus, choreographed by Garry Stewart. This 70-minute work explores the domestic world of human beings – our engagement with everyday items like books, ironing boards, sofas, and other household paraphernalia.


Sefton’s music programme continues along his own idiosyncratic lines with drone metal pioneers Sunn O))) and avant-garde institution Magma (FRA) to co-headline at Thebarton Theatre. Israeli maestro Ilan Volkov returns with Tectonics Adelaide, a two-day collision of classical and experimental music; and Festival favourite Unsound is back featuring some more Australian premieres. While rounding out the music program is Brooklyn balladeer Sufjan Stevens (US).

The Final edition of Unsound will be its biggest, brimming with Australian debuts, collaborations and exclusive, commissioned shows. Over 2 nights at Thebarton Theatre, Unsound Adelaide 2016 will feature Nine Inch Nails keyboardist Alessandro Cortini (ITA/US), Mogwai bass player Barry Burns (UK), Icelandic minimalist/drone composer Johann Johannsson, who recently won a Golden Globe Award for his score to The Theory of Everything, and Hyperdub boss Kode9 (UK).

Also returning in 2016 is Ilan Volkov’s (ISR) new music concert, Tectonics, which had a season at the 2014 Festival. Over another 2 day program at the Adelaide Town Hall, Tectonics 2016 will combine avant-garde electronic composers with orchestral and classical performances, including works by The Necks (AUS), Jim O’Rourke (USA), Annie Hsieh (AUS), Cathy Milliken (AUS), David Shea (AUS), Klaus Lang (AUT) and Eyvind Kang (US).

The Australian String Quartet partners with dynamic percussionist Claire Edwardes in Alleged Dances, Musica Viva premieres its new chamber opera Voyage to the Moon, and Zephyr Quartet debuts the surreal and large-scale collaboration Exquisite Corpse.


A Very Special Event

France’s Groupe F will perform their ‘stadium spectacular’, À Fleur de Peau, at the Adelaide Oval – marking another first for both the Festival and the venue. The early release of tickets for the show (offered at half price) saw over 10,000 tickets sold in 3 days making it the fastest selling show in the Festival’s history.
Tickets and the full programme are available from or BASS on 131 246.

One thought on “The 2016 Adelaide Festival of Arts Programme

  • I’m fairly sure The James Plays have no connection, except the favourable comparisons made by certain London critics to the Bard’s lesser history cycles, to Shakespeare.


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