Stars shine at Perth Festival time

The glorious, otherworldly brilliance of Björk – one of the greatest art-pop musicians on the planet – joins a galaxy of stars coming to Perth Festival 2023.

Celebrating art without borders for the Festival’s 70th anniversary, we invite audiences to look outwards, upwards and sing to the sky under the Noongar 2023 theme of Djinda (stars).

In an Australian-exclusive, Björk will present her dazzling theatrical extravaganza Cornucopia in an elaborate custom-made pavilion in Langley Park as a special Festival closing event supported by Tourism WA.

Cornucopia has only been presented a few times around the world and Björk’s four performances in the heart of Perth will be the only opportunity to experience her acclaimed stage masterpiece in Australasia.

Warm summer nights will light up from 10 February to 5 March as national and international artists reconnect us with the world, performing alongside local heroes in an exciting Festival program packed with premieres and new Festival commissions.

As the Webb telescope zooms deeper into the universe and the 2023 solar eclipse beckons visitors to our North-West coast next April, the Festival program refracts the night sky through the lens of Noongar knowledge.

Among the many stories connecting humans to the cosmos is that of Djoondal – the spirit woman with the long white hair who gently swept up spirit children and created a home for them as stars in Milky Way above.

Djoondal – the creation story behind the name for Joondalup – opens the Festival in a Noongar-led free public spectacle of lights, lasers, music and choreographed drones at Lake Joondalup over three nights from 10 12 February.

Sydney Theatre Company's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeImage: Sydney Theatre Company’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

The opening weekend will also pulsate with the thrilling, gothic cine-theatre of Sydney Theatre Company’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the euphoric energy of Stephanie Lake Company’s dance-drum sensation Manifesto, free dance works by Crystal Pite performed by STRUT Dance, the pan-African dance futurism of Bikutsi 3000 from Cameroon’s Blick Bassy and the latest Edinburgh Fringe hit Happy Meal.

At Perth Concert Hall, the stellar voices of Emma Donovan and Emma Matthews sing new songs about ancient stories with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Music of the Spheres, which includes a sneak-peek of a new opera about Galileo by Richard Mills (Batavia, Song of the Nightingale).

Three star-studded weeks will follow, including international contemporary music acts Bon Iver, Angel Olsen and Bikini Kill, the legendary Kronos Quartet, Australian Dance Theatre and Melbourne Theatre Company with Virginia Gay’s gender-flipped rom-com Cyrano, presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company.

In 2023 we take our Festival contemporary music hotspot to The Rechabite in Northbridge for a full venue takeover featuring some of the most exciting acts from across the globe – including Peaches (Canada), Kae Tempest (UK), Mdou Moctar (Niger), Mykki Blanco (USA) and South African sensation Nakhane alongside Julia Jacklin and an incredible array of Australian and First Nations artists.

The endlessly inventive local choreographer Laura Boynes features a stellar cast of dancers in her Equations of a Falling Body.

It is one of many exciting new Festival commissions across the program, including Tracker, which sees Australian Dance Theatre’s Daniel Riley join Ursula Yovich, Rachael Maza and other leading First Nations artists to tell the story of Riley’s conflicted police tracker great-great-uncle.

Other commissions include several beautiful offerings for families, who also can look forward to heaps of fun activities at Family Day at Freo over our Writers Weekend at Fremantle Arts Centre.

Perth Festival WonderboxImage: Sensorium premieres its new work Wonderbox.

Perth’s internationally lauded company Sensorium premieres its new work Wonderbox for children with disability and their friends, and Hide the Dog is a trans-Tasman First Nations tale about two friends’ magical journey to save the Tassie tiger.

As Björk lights up Langley Park to close the Festival, the nearby Perth Concert Hall will host a weekend of musical wonder with the legendary Kronos Quartet celebrating their 50th anniversary with a new collaboration with Noongar composer Maatakitj after a special premiere in Albany as part of Perth Festival’s Touring WA program.

French pianist Cédric Tiberghien performs John Cage masterpieces beneath sound artist Matthias Schack-Arnott’s mobile of percussion instruments, and sensational composer, double bassist and vocalist Linda May Han Oh performs her beautiful new commission Ephemeral Echoes.

The final weekend will also see Michaela Greave’s light installation Between Us beam signals of hope and connection out into the universe from the Art Gallery of WA rooftop.

Audiences can help her compose a collaborative morse-code poem dedicated to the “space between” all things and then watch as it is transmitted into the night sky to flicker through space and time forever.

Artistic Director Iain Grandage says: “We welcome everyone to enjoy a Festival filled with sparkling events for all – a celebration of our City of Lights in full illumination. Festival time in Perth is the perfect opportunity to come together and find inspiration in the most unexpected ways. Our Djinda 2023 Festival is a lens to see the world through new eyes. It speaks to the stars above and the shining lights within and we can’t wait for you to join us”.

The Visual Arts program considers the bright stars – and the dark space between – in galleries across Perth. The entire program is free, including Italian artist Rosa Barba’s first Australian solo show and exhibitions featuring Robert Andrew, Jacobus Capone, the Tennant Creek Brio and a celebration of John Curtin Gallery’s 25-year Perth Festival partnership featuring works by Aziz Hazara, Lisa Reihana and the proppaNOW Aboriginal artist collective.

This year our Perth Festival Artist-in-Residence is Jason Phu, who will be creating work to premiere at our Literature & Ideas opening celebration All the Stars: A Party.

Meanwhile, Francis Alÿs’ ongoing series of short films Children’s Games will screen ahead of the main Lotterywest Films features at UWA Somerville.

Festival venues will shine throughout the metro area – from Lake Joondalup for Djoondal to our Writers Weekend at Fremantle Arts Centre, where the many guests include Damon Galgut, Jennifer Down, Larissa Behrendt and the return of Family Day at Freo, with more details to be announced in January.

From A Day of Ideas at Subiaco Arts Centre to West Australian Ballet’s 30th anniversary season under the stars at the stunning Quarry Amphitheatre and the massed musical forces of West Australian Opera’s arena spectacle of Carmen under lights at the WACA Ground.

To usher in summer ahead of the main Festival, the Lotterywest Films season opens on 21 November with the Australian premiere of Blueback. Director Robert Connelly’s stunning big-screen adaptation of Tim Winton’s beloved book stars Mia Wasikowska, Radha Mitchell and Eric Bana.

Blueback leads a 19-week line-up of the best new international films including Venice Golden Lion-winning doco All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, the Cannes Palme D’or-winning uber-rich satire The Triangle of Sadness, Bhutan’s feelgood hit Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom and Park Chan-wook’s dazzling detective thriller Decision to Leave.

We also hit the road again to share our Touring WA program of theatre, music, films, literature and ideas with audiences from the Great Southern to the Pilbara.

Those spreading the magic include Kronos Quartet in Albany, WA Youth Theatre Company’s Seven Sisters in Karratha after a season at several Perth outdoor sites, and Happy Meal in Geraldton and Bunbury. Also connecting Western Australians in new and exciting ways will be our Festival Connect program of arts sector support, creative learning and community engagement opportunities. Visit our website to get involved.

Perth Festival runs 10 February – 5 March 2023. Lotterywest Films runs from 21 November 2022 – 9 April 2023.

Friends and Music Members priority access booking period opens at 12pm WST on Thursday 27 October and general public ticket sales open at 12pm WST on Thursday 3 November.


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