8 Things not to miss at the 2017 Perth International Arts Festival

With the 2017 Perth International Arts Festival kicking off in just a matter of days, we’ve run through the artsy smorgasbord that is this year’s program, and are bringing you our tips on what not to miss in the coming weeks.

So these are 8 things we think you shouldn’t miss over the course of the festival…

Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak

Fri 10 – Sun 12th Feb between 8-10:30pm, Kings Park

Whilst it might not be giant puppets roaming the streets; but Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak – this year’s festival opening event certainly falls within the realms of “ambitious public spectacle”.

Over the course of three evenings, Kings Park will be transformed through light, sound and imagery to explore and celebrate the biodiversity and natural beauty of the six seasons of the SW Australia. Whilst the weather forecast for the weekend isn’t looking too flash there is no doubt this will still prove to be a stunning and spectacular piece of public art. Just make sure you pack one of those fetching ponchos!

The Gabriels: Election Year In The Life of One Family

11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th Feb 1.30pm (8hrs 15 mins w/ breaks), Subiaco Arts Centre

The Gabriels is a year-in-the-life of an American family, a theatrical “event” from the Tony Award-winning playwright and director Richard Nelson. The year it’s chronicling – 2016 – because there’s a year I’m sure we’re all eager to relive!

The play follows the Gabriel family, upstate New Yorkers trying to make sense of the ever-changing world and the ever-changing political landscape in the United States. This is a fresh and timely piece of theatre that will hopefully help us all understand what the f**k just happened over there.

The Encounter

16-25th Feb 8pm (also 2pm 18th & 22nd & 5pm 19th), His Majesty’s Theatre

Inspired by the book Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu, The Encounter takes the audience deep into the Amazon Rainforest thanks to innovative 3D audio technology.

Directed by Simon McBurney and performed by Richard Katz, this immersive experience follows the story of photographer Loren McIntrye as he gets lost in the Brazilian rainforest searching for the Mayoruna people. I’m a sucker for theatre done with a twist – you experience the show using headphones – so this ticks all the right boxes!


17-18th Feb 8 pm, Perth Concert Hall


On the face of it Flit might seem like a particularly timely political work, what with the swathes of migration taking place around the world over the last 12-24 months. That and a certain executive order. But Flit began life as a family history, with Martin Green, the award-winning composer and experimental accordionist drawing inspiration from the stories of his grandparent’s migration before WW2.

Flit brings together a veritable supergroup of collaborators from the folk music world and beyond. Joining Martin Green in Perth for this Australian exclusive will be Becky Unthank from The Unthanks, Mogwai’s Dominic Aitchison and singer-songwriter Adam Holmes. Not to mention stop-motion animation from BAFTA award winning duo whiterobot. As a fan of LAU, The Unthanks, Mogwai and Adam Holme’s music this is one show I won’t be missing.

An Evening with an Immigrant & The Midnight Run

24th-25th Feb 8pm, Studio Underground & 3rd-4th Mar 6pm, Streets of Perth

2017’s PIAF Artist in Residence is Inua Ellams an award-winning poet, playwright, performer, graphic artist and designer based in the UK. Born in Nigeria, Ellams blends the old and new, mixing traditional African storytelling with contemporary poetry.

As Artist in Residence Ellams is bringing two shows to the festival, the autobiographical solo show An Evening With An Immigrant; which tells Ellams story through the medium of poetry and music, and The Midnight Run, a collaboration with local theatre-makers The Last Great Hunt – which will see audiences venture off onto the streets of Perth for an arts-filled mystery walking tour! .

Ellams will also be running a number of workshops for young people across the city drawing on his passion for basketball and poetry.

Courtyard Sessions

When: 24th & 25th Feb 5pm, Courtyard, State Theatre Centre of WA

Forming part of the Perth Writer’s Festival, The Courtyard Sessions are two nights of spoken word, hip-hop, and comedy from a range of brilliant writers and performers – with music coming from RTRFM 92.1 DJs.

The first night will feature performances from three of the hottest spoken word artists – Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, Omar Musa and Ziggy. Before the Literary Death Match (Pictured), hosted by the US’ Adrian Todd Zuniga, makes its Australian debut – think Poetry Slam meets X Factor – with four authors performing their work in front of an all-star panel of judges.

The second night features the bringing to life of Nick Earls’ linked novella series The Wisdom Tree through music and readings by local performers. Then Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire will present a Perth Writer’s Festival edition of the ever popular Women of Letters.

Forgiving Night For Day

When: Feb 18th – 16th Apr 10am – 5pm (Tues-Sun), PICA

Forgiving Night for Day is a video installation from Perth artist Jacobus Capone. The work is a contemplation of the Portuguese concept of ‘saudade’, an expression of deep nostalgia; the longing for people, places and times that are irrevocably lost.

The work draws inspiration from Fado music and the artist’s wanderings at dawn through the empty streets of Lisbon. Filmed over seven days the film features seven different performers, at seven different vantage points overlooking the city. Forgiving Night For Day sounds like a beautifully meditative piece – a welcome break from the stresses of the everyday. And it’s free which is always a nice little bonus!

Contemporary Music at Chevron Festival Gardens

When: 10th Feb – 5th March 7.30pm, Elizabeth Quay

The curators of PIAF’s Contemporary Music program always manage to bring together an eclectic mixture of artists for 21 nights of music, which runs the gamut of musical genres. This year is no different – there’s soul-flecked country, South Korean experimental post-rock, Afro-Cuban Jazz and big band swing.

Unsurprisingly a bunch of shows have already sold-out. But there’s still plenty of tickets left for many of the others. Some of the highlights include Archie Roach, Katy Steele, L-Fresh the Lion, and Kishi Bashi. Also along with the main stage acts, the festival will also have a bunch of local artists performing on the smaller Gardens Stage.

Perth International Arts Festival runs from February 10th – March 5th taking in multiple venues across Perth. For the full program and for ticketing details please visit the Perth Festival website


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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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