Artistic Director Iain Grandage launches his first Perth Festival, with opening week dedicated to First Nations performances

Running from February 7th to March 1st, more than 250 events will take over the WA capital for next year’s Perth Festival, all under the guidance of incoming Artistic Director Iain Grandage. And, in an Aussie arts festival first, the 2020 run will kick off with an opening week dedicated to First Nations artists and performers.

The theme for the 2020 festival is Karla, a Noongar term meaning fire and, by extension, country and home. Karla marks the beginning of four linked festival seasons, including Bilya (river), Wardan (sea), and Djinda (the cosmos, the stars).

“Our Festival is a campfire for sharing stories and inviting belonging,” Grandage says. “In celebrating place, and the depth and range of Australian indigenous culture, our entire first week is dedicated to First Nations performances.” […] “This is a first for any major Australian international arts festival and a celebration of Australia’s unique voice in the world.”

In a landmark event Perth’s Yirra Yaakin Theatre‘s will bring us HecateKylie Bracknell (Kaarljilba Kaardn)‘s all Noongar language adaptation of Macbeth. Other first week highlights include Bennelong from the acclaimed Bangarra Dance Theatre, and the world premiere season of Buŋgul, an extraordinary live audio visual spectacular celebrating the culture that inspired Djarrimirri (Child of the Rainbow), the final album from legendary Indigenous musician Gurrumul.
2020 also sees a new festival hub, with The City of Lights precinct paying homage to the night of February 22nd, 1962, when the people of Perth lit up the city to guide the orbit of the first American into space, John Glenn. Based around the iconic Perth Concert Hall, you can catch the very best in contemporary music here at the Chevron Lighthouse, or take a trip into Meow Meow‘s Kabarett Haus, where the siren star will welcome artists such as Rufus Wainwright and Amanda Palmer.

Elsewhere, novelists, songwriters, filmmakers, politicians, artists, DJs, and comedians will come together to talk all things Literature & Ideas, in a program curated by Sisonke Msimang. With key events taking place over the weekend of February 21st – 23rd, Literature & Ideas will also burst forth from its University of Western Australia hub, with events across the city from February 17th. Featuring the likes of Neil Gaiman, Melissa Lucashenko, Benjamin Law, and Jane Caro, this is a program not to be missed.

Film fans are well catered for too, with the return of Lotterywest Films Under The Stars, over at UWA Somerville, while the 2020 Visual Arts program, put together by celebrated local curator Gemma West, promises an incredible mix of experiences, including immersive VR experiences.

Of the entire program, Grandage says: “Perth Festival 2020 will be a huge, euphoric celebration of Perth, Western Australia –it’s my home town and I love it,”

Head over to the Perth Festival website for all the info you’ll need to start planning your 2020 festival!

Header image credit: Hecate by Wendy Slee

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