Perth Festival 2023 is just days away, and we’re not kidding when we say we are absolutely buzzing to check out as much of the incredible program as possible over the next few weeks.
Spanning over 120 diverse events across theatre, dance, music, film, literature and visual arts, it’s been a nightmare trying to find just 10 highlights within the stacked program playing out over dozens of unique venues around Perth…
That said, we’ve given it our best shot! Check out our selection of 10 huge highlights and hidden gems , and head to the Perth Festival Website to do some perusing of your own!
Icelandic superstar Björk headlines this year’s Fest as the closing event of the summer arts party – a major coup for Perth Festival given it will be the only place she’s visiting in Australia! She brings her dazzling theatrical concert spectacle Cornucopia to an elaborate, purpose-built pavilion in Langley Park. Not only has the show only been performed a handful of times around the globe, she’ll also be performing it with the help of a local Perth choir, making this a truly once-in-a-lifetime event not to be missed.
From the grandiose to the gorgeously intimate, Happy Meal heads to Perth after winning a coveted Fringe First award for its 2022 debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The joyfully queer show will tickle many a millennial’s memory as Tabby Lamb’s “rom-com for the dial-up generation” travels back to the quaint days of MSN, traversing through teenage life into adulthood from MySpace to TikTok, cis to trans. If you need more convincing, check out this glowing review from Timeout Sydney.
Music of the Spheres
Music of the Spheres is a special Perth Festival Commission, with singer Emma Donovan and Victorian Opera Director Richard Mills joined by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Shanul Sharma, Samuel Dundas and a choir of Angels and Demons in a concert that weaves together music from across centuries. This heavenly music will sing to the stars with exquisite arias from Handel, Mahler and Strauss alongside dazzling excerpts from Mills’ new opera, ‘Galileo’.
Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
This thrilling retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s gothic mystery showcases the story of the doomed, divided Jekyll and his rapacious alter-ego Hyde. Strap in for stunning live cinematic visuals and engrossing theatre action as powerhouse pair Matthew Backer and Ewen Leslie each inhabit multiple roles. Presented by the Sydney Theatre Company, this unmissable production is at the cutting edge of theatre and cinema. The performers elevate it to a whole new level in exploring “the place between good and bad, the self and the other, the public and the private, and the artist and the audience.”
Equations of a Falling Body
Celebrated Perth choreographer Laura Boynes channels the uncontrollable forces behind our wild and unpredictable modern world into her world-premiere dance show Equations of a Falling Body. Boynes puts three of Perth’s most exceptional dancers – James O’Hara, Ella-Rose Trew and Timothy Green – to the test in a series of conundrums that set the forces of climate, politics and memory in motion. Using real-time choreography to create striking cinematic sequences, the director crafts her show live, like a conductor balancing its ebbs and flows in response to the audience as witnesses.
Freshly crowned 2023 Grammy-winner Linda May Han Oh – well-known as the voice and instrumentalist of the jazz bassist in the Pixar hit film Soul – returns from New York to her hometown for a special Perth Festival world premiere – Ephemeral Echoes. The Perth musician, who has been described as “Australia’s greatest contemporary jazz musician”, won a Grammy Award for best jazz instrumental album, as one of the featured players on New Standards Vol. 1.
In her brand-new show Ephemeral Echoes at Perth Concert Hall on March 5, Linda is joined by an ensemble of three percussionists and keys player in a performance that highlights the ephemeral, transient nature of things. This work encompasses such ephemeral wonders as a firefly’s fleeting life to the short-lived nature of everyday objects like smart phones, while exploring motherhood and childbirth to Linda’s own experience witnessing the Aurora Borealis.
This year’s contemporary music program at The Rechabite is one of the finest in the festival’s history. Amongst a raft of must-see acts, the rapper, poet and performance artist Mykki Blanco is one of the most fearless. For over a decade, they have blended genres as far and wide as rave, rap, trap, grunge and punk into a mesmerising pool of experimental hip hop that celebrates the queer and trans experience. A truly trailblazing act you won’t want to miss.
Day of Ideas
On Saturday 18 February, the beautiful Subiaco Arts Centre will be taken over for a day celebrating WA’s sharpest minds and innovative thinkers across industry, culture and science. The day is split up into three sessions, and you can get a brief rundown of who’s talking about what below:
Curtin University Research Ambassador Renae Sayers is the keynote speaker, followed by Astronomer Carol Redford, tourism operator Kerry-Ann Winmar and artist/illustrator talking about protecting and sharing WA’s starry night sky.
Prof. Fiona Stanley shares the story of WA botanist and icon Dr. Marion Blackwell in a monologue taken from Victoria Midwinter-Pitt’s acclaimed show I’m With Her, followed by two Noongar women of different generations – Kylie Bracknell and Dr Roma Yibiyung Winmar. They’ll be sharing stories full of love and laughter.
First up local artists Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Anna Richardson, Ilona McGuire and Luke Kerridge explore the concept of wonder, followed by a discussion on LGBTQIA+ representation past and present in Perth with Braden Hill, Aram Hosie, Marziya Mohammedali and Misty Farquhar.
One of Perth Festival’s most popular events is the annual Writers Weekend, and it’s back with an inspirational and diverse array of guests with an overall theme of ‘Steadfast as the Stars’. As Curator Sisonke Msimang says more eloquently: “a paean to poetry and to the ever-evolving and ever-expanding universe.” You can check out the full, stacked program here, featuring special guests and beloved authors like Jane Harper, Damon Galgut, Alice Pung, Brooke Blurton, Jess Ho and more.
Grievous Bodily Calm
While Perth Festival is filled with spectacular artists from around the globe, part of the fest’s magic has always been its continued (and important) celebration of local artists like Grievous Bodily Calm. Their genre-blending instrumental sounds blend produced beats with real time improvisation crafting a high-energy show that blurs the line between IDM, R&B, jazz and modern electronica. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of Tame Impala, The Avalanches and Beach House to name a small few – so it will be a live music performance not to be missed.
Head to the Perth Festival Website for the full program and to grab your tickets today.
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