How do you plan a festival in a pandemic?” That's the question Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield, co-directors of the Adelaide Festival, have been asking themselves all year.
“Admittedly, it has not been easy," they say: "an enforced hiatus for companies across the world; artists and performers losing months of employment overnight and some leaving the industry in order to secure jobs in other fields; mental health impacts among art workers; a reduction in the number of new productions being created; insurance cover all but disappearing, border closures, reduced flight routes, quarantining requirements; new costs of developing and implementing specialised COVID-management plans, and the severe reduction in venue capacities and therefore box office income and ticket stock.”
They focused on finding solutions. “We wanted to ensure Adelaide Festival remained true to a 60-year tradition of bringing great international artists and events to our city while simultaneously supporting Adelaide companies and others from throughout Australia. We have always had a very strong presence of local work but in 2021 we supported a number of artists and companies to use this year of enforced isolation to develop new work at a scale and ambition that hadn’t been possible before. The 2021 Adelaide Festival has a record number of Australian premieres and we also backed new creative collaborations and made early investments in artists and projects that will bear fruit in 2022 and beyond.”
One of the most innovative solutions the pair have come up with is its Live from Europe program, which will enable Adelaide audiences to attend live international performances in theatre, music and dance, from Russia, UK, Germany and the Netherlands. These shows will be happening, in real time, on the other side of the world, while audiences in Adelaide will watch at the newly restored Her Majesty's Theatre, with the experience channeled via high resolution cameras and the latest in streaming technology.
One of these works will be the Olivier-Award winning dance event BLKDOG, from one of "the most thrilling new voices in contemporary choreography", Botis Seva; commissioned and presented by Far From The Norm and London’s Sadler's Wells. “Colleagues in London have said to us that not since Hofesh Shechter has there been such a buzz about a choreographer,” Healy says, describing him as “utterly exhilarating” - "he seems to have created a new choreographic language". The performance will also be livestreamed at Middleback Arts Centre, Whyalla – part of a new program bringing Festival shows to regional centres.
Other dance on the Festival includes Sydney Dance Company with Impermanence, Australian Dance Theatre with Supernature, Restless Dance Theatre with Guttered and rising local star Lewis Major with a double bill: S/WORDS and Unfolding.
For more details go: here.
Look out for our interview with Lewis Major in the Jan/Feb/Mar issue. See our special 40% off Christmas offer: one year (four issues) print + digital for only $31!