Current Issue #488

Adelaide Festival Launches 2018 Program, Extends Directors’ Tenure Until 2021

Adelaide Festival Launches 2018 Program, Extends Directors’ Tenure Until 2021

Adelaide Festival has launched its full 2018 program, featuring a bumper crop of 48 shows in the realms of theatre, music, opera, dance, film and visual arts, and extended the tenure of Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy’s as artistic directors until 2021.

The 2018 program contains a range of brand new contemporary offerings, as well as some classical adaptation and connections to festivals past. Leading the charge of big ticket items, aside from the previously announced Hamlet opera, are the opening weekend performance from The Lost and Found Orchestra, the return of blockbuster theatre-makers Toneelgroep Amsterdam (whose Roman Tragedies entranced audiences in 2014) with their epic contemporary Shakespearian compression Kings of War, and a one-night-only live performance from the formidable Grace Jones.

“In 2018 we have programmed works of mighty scale and whispering intimacy — all of them fired by an ambition to enthral, challenge, awe and inspire,” said Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield of the program. “Works by the finest artists in the world today; works you will remember for the rest of your life.”

Theatre and musical performances make up almost half of this year’s core program. Sydney’s esteemed Belvoir Street Theatre will bring their adaptation of Seneca’s tragedy Thyestes to the stage, while contemporary tragedies such at the 2014 Beslan siege will come to life through the eyes of children in Us/Them, and Palestinian director Amir Nizar Zuabi will examine mourning in AZZA, as well as stage a biographical piece on the life of poet Taha Muhhammad Ali in TAHA.

Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s Kings of War blends together the experiences of Shakespeare’s warring plays

Local theatre has a strong showing in the new program too, with State Theatre Company South Australia’s ensemble presenting Patricia Cornelius’ searing examination of Australian rules football culture In the Club, and Brink Productions adapting Memorial, Alice Oswald’s poetic ode to the soldiers of Homer’s Iliad, for the stage with Helen Morse, composer Jocelyn Pook and an army of volunteer cast members.

On the musical score, audiences will be spoiled for choice across the worlds of classical, Indigenous, jazz, and pop music. Chamber Landscapes returns to Ukaria for another year, while Adelaide Town Hall will host Nigel Westlake’s Compassion and The Balanescu Quartet Retrospective. Joining Grace Jones in a quartet of unique female voices across the festival are rising jazz sensation Cécile McLorin Salvant, Australian alt-pop swinger/songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke and the Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sophie von Otter. Then, of course, there is the lineup for WOMADelaide, which thus far includes the likes of The Avalanches and Anoushka Shankar.

Patricia Cornelius’ In the Club examines the sometimes brutally chauvanistic world of Australian rules football

Four dance pieces will also be presented at the 2018 Festival. The vaunted Akram Khan will bring his performance career as a dancer to an end in XENOS, while Lucy Guerin’s dramatic work Split hits the stage, FLA.CO.MEN will showcase a reinterpretation of Flamenco, and Bangarra Dance Theatre will present the tale of Bennelong through dance.

Visual arts stand to be well represented in the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art at multiple venues across the city, while a collection of international artists will exhibit for the festival. New York’s Youssef Nabil is set to present his stylised photographic portraits of eminent artists such as Marina Abramovic, Alicia Keys and Louise Bourgeois, while Swiss artist Matt Staub’s ever-evolving video installation 21: Memories of Growing Up will present a gamut of younger memories from individuals all across the world.

Lucy Guerin’s Split is one of this year’s most talked about Australian dance works

Adelaide Writers’ Week will make its annual return, as director Laura Kroetsch noting that “while fiction continues to be the focus, this year features a number of terrific works of non-fiction.” The environmentalist novelist Barbara Kingsolver, philosophers A C Grayling and Peter Godfrey Smith, crime writer Louise Penny, and Miles Franklin winner Sophie Laguna are some of the names on the bill.

Following from this year’s festival, festivities on the Riverbank Palais will continue, including performances from Lee Fields and Lior, as well as the Long Lunches series, and David Marr’s Festival Forums.


Next year will mark the second Adelaide Festival from joint artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy, but the pair is set to continue with three more, as they are now locked in to present the festival until 2021.

“It is a great privilege to continue our relationship with Adelaide Festival through to 2021,” said Healy and Armfield in a statement. “We are particularly chuffed to take responsibility for the 60th anniversary in 2020 of this, the greatest of Australia’s arts festivals.”

View the full program at

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox