Perth International Arts Festival presents “art without borders” in their 2017 program

Themes of migration, reconciliation, accessibility and empathy form the heart of Perth International Arts Festival’s 2017 programming. Over the course of 24 days, from Feb 10th to March 5th, Perth will play host to over 700 artists from around the world, to 11 Australian exclusives and to 5 World premieres, all to better understand and re-imagine the world we live.

2017 will be the Festival’s 65th instalment, and the second under the artistic leadership of Wendy Martin. Once again the festival will encompass and take over a number of unique settings across the city, including Elizabeth Quay and Kings Park, for the previously announced opening celebrations – Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak.

Boorna Waanginy sees Nigel Jamieson continue his work with Perth Festival, and collaborating with Noongar elders, as well as storytellers, artists, botanists and scientists to awash Kings Park in light, sound and imagery over the course of three nights. The event will combine the natural world with state of the art technology and allow visitors to experience and appreciate the beauty and diversity of the six seasons of the Noongar calendar, all culminating in one large public collective artwork.

The theatre component of the 2017 Festival offers a choice of the epic and the intimate, from eight-hour marathons to performances a little shorter. Joining the already announced performances of The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family from Tony Award winning writer/director Richard Nelson, and The Dark Mirror: Zender’s Winterreise featuring Ian Bostrige, are a host of exciting shows that all seem equally as unmissable.

Lady Eats Apple, a PIAF co-commission, is a new work from Back to Back Theatre, set inside a vast inflatable theatre inside another theatre. Flit seems acclaimed accordionist Martin Green (Lau) assemble a super group of musicians for a darkly atmospheric animated song cycle about contemporary and historic migration. Whilst in The Year I Was Born, Argentinian director Lola Arias explores the complex national history of Chile.

The Festival will this year feature two Artists in Residence – poet, designer, playwright and performer Inua Ellams (headline image) and Amy Sharrocks. Ellam’s is bringing two shows to the festival, firstly the acclaimed solo autobiographical piece An Evening with an Immigrant, and secondly, The Midnight Run, a collaboration with acclaimed Perth theatre group The Last Great Hunt. Sharrocks on the other hand will be inviting guests to Leighton Beach and other locations around the city to contribute their own water to the WA edition of The Museum of Water.

The 2017 Dance program brings some of the most sought after choreographers and dancers to Australian shores, including acclaimed Canadian artists, choreographer Crystal Pite and playwright/performer Jonathon Young who will be presenting the Australian premiere of Betroffenheit. Another Australian exclusive will be Exit/Exist from South African choreographer and dancer Gregory Maqoma. Whilst the West Australian Ballet will again return with it’s much beloved Ballet at the Quarry season, featuring a program of Australian and World premieres.

Video art and Virtual Reality form the focus of the Visual Arts programming. British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah will present two film installations: Vertigo Sea, a meditation on our relationship with the sea, and Auto Da Fé, a fictional narrative that explores migration over four centuries. Whilst in the video installation Forgiving Night For Day, Perth artist Jacobus Capone contemplates the poetic Portuguese word suadede, an expression of deep nostalgia and yearning, by filming in the streets of Lisbon at dawn

Also forming part of the 2017 Festival is the Perth Writer’s Festival, whilst the full line-up isn’t announced until next year, festival organisers have teased out a few names of literary attendees. Amongst the writers set to visit in 2017 are the Man Booker shortlisted writer Madeleine Thien, Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley, poet and musician Omar Musa and the writer Nick Earls. The opening address will come from writer and researcher Ben Rawlence, who will talk on the lives of inhabitants in the world’s largest refugee camp. Whilst, the closing address will come from Syrian architect and memoirist Marwa al-Sabouni, and touch on the role of the built environment in reconstructing displaced lives and communities.


Perth International Arts Festival runs from February 10th to March 5th 2017.

Friends of the Festival can purchase tickets now.

Tickets go on sale to the General Public on Monday 7th November.

For more information and the full festival line-up including the contemporary music and Lotterywest film line-ups visit HERE

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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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