Barry Humphries, arguably Australia’s greatest comedy export, will be the Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s Artistic Director in 2015.
Humphries will replace Kate Ceberano as Artistic Director after the 2014 event and three years in the top job, in a massive coup for the festival. Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier announced the festival’s highest profile appointment in its 13-year history on the weekend, saying Humphries will be “instrumental in furthering the profile of the festival overseas”. “Barry is renowned across the globe and we look forward to him putting his stamp on the festival, which has grown to be the largest and most comprehensive Cabaret Festival in the world,” Gautier said in a press release. The 79-year-old comedian, author, scriptwriter, stage and television star is best known for his characters Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson in a career that has lasted for more than 50 years with success all over the world. Away from the stage and television, Humphries is a huge supporter of the arts with his West London home housing some 25,000 books and he is the patron of the Melba Foundation and at one stage had the largest private collection of Charles Conder paintings in the world. Earlier this year, Humphries presented music from the Weimar Republic with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Meow Meow across the country. The Cabaret Festival’s Producer Torben Brookman met Humphries recently in London to discuss 2015’s event. Humphries congratulated Ceberano on her success as the Artistic Director and said he looks forward to “savouring her curatorial talents in the forthcoming festival next year”. “Some years ago, I was asked confidentially by a famous film director how I would respond to an invitation to curate the Adelaide Festival, and I replied in the affirmative,” Humphries said in a press release. “I heard nothing further until the State Premier and former Arts Minister, the Honourable Michael Rann, was quoted in The Advertiser objecting in strong terms to such a cultural appointment, implying impertinence and pushiness on my part. Mr Rann and I are now good friends and I am not sorry that I never had the chance to direct the Adelaide Festival, since the Cabaret Festival is closer to my heart and more up my street. Happily, there seem to be no official objections this time to my having a crack at it. My rule as an entertainer has always been a selfish one: to please myself. I find that if I am pleasing myself I am, on the whole, pleasing my public. “My personal tastes are wildly eclectic and I am lucky to travel so much and enjoy the work of such a diversity of popular entertainers. I hope to bring some wonderful performances to Adelaide, the Australian city I have enjoyed since my student days. I already have some ideas and I have spoken to many friends ‘in the business’ who have expressed keen interest in this event. I am thrilled to have this job and I hope I will honour my commitment to the people of Adelaide who have long supported me in my own humble offerings in Grote Street.” The 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs from June 5 until June 20, 2015. adelaidecabaret.com Photo: Greg Gorman