Top Picks for the Melbourne International Arts Festival

 With the Melbourne International Arts Festival just weeks away, we thought we’d offer our Top Picks of the festival.

 With the Melbourne International Arts Festival just weeks away, we thought we’d offer our Top Picks of the festival. The team here at have had a look at the 2011 program and have come up with our top 4 (well, technically 7) shows we think shouldn’t be missed! Top Picks:  Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler

For the first time, the acclaimed Schaubühne Berlin – helmed by directorial prodigy Thomas Ostermeier – brings its award-winning redefinition of theatre to Melbourne, with a stylish, modern take on Ibsen’s iconic tale of entrapment and revenge.

 The revolving set, the mirrors and the minimalist furnishings piqued my interest. The stark design is said to reflect the exquisite tension found in the production. This will be a remarkable rendition of one of theatre’s most enduring and devastating works.  Hedda Gabler marks the beginning of an ongoing relationship between the Festival and one of Europe’s greatest theatre ensembles.  Photo by Arno Declair  Performed in German with English surtitles Venue: the Arts Centre, Playhouse Dates: Wed 19– Sat 22 Oct, 8pm & Sun 23 Oct at 1pm Duration: 2hr 15 min no interval Tickets: Priced from $25 – $117 Bookings: the Arts Centre 1300 182 183 / Ticketmaster 1300 723 038 / 



A powerful fusion of agitprop, frontline journalism and theatre from acclaimed writer/director team Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen.Aftermath is a heartrending account of resilience and hope in the face of incomprehensible violence and shattering loss.

This show has come up in conversation with many people over the last few weeks, and after reading the background of the piece and the subject matter, I can see why. The writers travelled to Jordan to interview a cross section of refugees who had fled Iraq in the wake of the US-led invasion. Critics across the globe have been floored by the human face the play puts on the thousands of innocent, but anonymous, victims of an ugly war. 

This show embraces the notion of journalism and documentary in theatre, with gripping results. 

Venue: Malthouse Theatre, Merlyn TheatreDates: Tues 11 – Fri 14 October at 7:30pm, Wed 12 and Fri 14 October at 2pmDuration: 1 hour 30 mins with intervalTickets: Priced from $25 – $55Bookings: M-TIX (03) 9685 5111 / / Ticketmaster 1300 723 038 /


Provocateur: The Rebellious Text –

Red Stitch Ensemble members and special guests perform readings directed by Gary Abrahams and Adena Jacobs – the Festival’s 2011 Harold Mitchell Foundation Fellow.

Presented by Melbourne Festival in association with Red Stitch Actors Theatre, these staged readings of radical and politically inspired modern plays will give a fascinating glimpse into the cutting edge contemporary theatre for which Red Stitch has become known.  I highly recommend anything presented by Red Stitch, so this is an exciting opportunity for Melbourne audiences. 
Turning ten this year, Melbourne’s leading independent theatre company Red Stitch Actors Theatre shares this milestone with Melbourne Festival audiences. In late 2001, Red Stitch came together as an ensemble principally to create work for talented actors who weren’t getting opportunities elsewhere and to provide a place for the production of exciting contemporary scripts which weren’t being performed on Australian stages.  

Mon 17 Oct at 7.45pm – The Conduct of Life by Maria Irene Fornes, directed by Gary Abrahams
Tue 18 Oct at 7.45pm – Stoning Mary by Debbie Tucker Green, directed by Adena Jacobs
Thu 20 Oct at 7.45pm – In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Gary Abrahams
Sat 22 Oct at 7.45pm – The 7 Stages of Grieving by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman, directed by Adena Jacobs

 Venue: the Arts Centre, Fairfax StudioDates: Mon 17, Tue 18, Thu 20 & Sat 22 Oct at 7.45pmTickets: Priced from $15 – $20Bookings: the Arts Centre 1300 182 183 / / Ticketmaster 1300 723 038 /  Rhinoceros in Love

Rhinoceros in Love

Being seen for the first time outside of China, Rhinoceros in Love is China’s most popular contemporary drama, a provocative tale of unrequited love and the darkly unhinged desperation of youth. This production will can also be seen at Brisbane Festival and Adelaide’s OzAsia Festival as part of its tour. 

This was in our top picks for Adelaide Festival, and was also in Artistic Director of Melbourne Festival, Brett Sheehy’s top picks list. This is a must-see at the Melbourne Festival.  Uniting a distinctive, stark visual style, a pop-song littered soundtrack and a thoroughly modern story of love and obsession, Rhinoceros in Love continues to electrify Beijing audiences, playing nightly to houses packed with youthful theatregoers. Weaving tightly between tragedy and comedy, the show focuses around Ma Lu, a man who develops a dangerous romantic fascination with the woman of his dreams: the uncompromising, unobtainable Mingming. However, Ming loves another man who does not care about her. One rainy night Ma, mad and stubborn as a rhinoceros, kidnaps Ming in the name of love.  Performed in Mandarin with English surtitles Venue: Dates: Duration: Tickets: Bookings:the Arts Centre, PlayhouseThu 6 – Sat 8 Oct, 8pm1hr 45min no intervalPriced from $25 – $117Bookings: the Arts Centre 1300 182 183 / Ticketmaster 1300 723 038 /  

Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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