After revitalising OzAsia with a fresh and lively program last year, artistic director Joseph Mitchell wants to engage with the Adelaide community beyond the arts scene for the festival’s 10th anniversary.
Unlike previous years, Mitchell says this year’s program won’t focus on a speci fic region or country from Asia. Instead, as with a large percentage of his programming last year, he wants to celebrate contemporary Asia. “It’s very much about a festival celebrating the identity of Asia in the 21st century,” Mitchell says. “ There is no other festival in the country doing that as an annual arts festival, so we’re about bringing in the freshest, most exciting art from that region. Essentially, when you pare back the word Asia, what you see is an arts festival that’s accessible to everybody.” OzAsia’s new partnership with the Port Adelaide Football Club is part of this brief to connect with a wider audience. During the AFL’s Multicultural Round, OzAsia was promoted around the country and into China through the football club’s China strategy via the broadcast. “I really want this festival to be about the city of Adelaide,” Mitchell says. “ There should be something for everybody. I want the festival to be more than [shows in theatres]. I want people to come down, eat food and listen to free music. I want it to be very participatory, so people can come in and perform on stage before the internationals or carry a lantern during the Moon Lantern Festival. The partnership with Port Power plays into that quite well.” To celebrate 10 years, OzAsia will present a free concert series in Elder Park that will feature 23 international acts. “For our 10-year anniversary, we thought, ‘Let’s do something that we probably couldn’t do any other year. Let’s put all our resources together and do something for Adelaide.’ We’ve got 10 nights of international music. I was careful not to make it WOMAD version two; this is very much about the contemporary music scene across Asia.” The Elder Park space will be called Good Fortune Market (an upgrade of last year’s Night Noodle Markets) and has a capacity of around 8000 people. Aside from food and live music, there will be a spiegeltent featuring family and circus shows, a community stage as well as roving performances. Last year, with its focus on Indonesia, Mitchell was able to program a lot of new work from one of our nearest neighbours to re flect the buzzing underground arts scene of Jakarta as well as other places throughout Asia. This proved to be a success with younger audiences, as 39 percent of all tickets sold for last year’s festival were purchased by people under 40. An experimental music showcase at Nexus Multicultural Centre, Sub Verse, is another exciting addition that will appeal to a younger audience. “Over a good two years I got to see really cool underground experimental musicians in places like Beijing and Shanghai and even Taipei,” Mitchell says. “There’s a real scene there – it’s wild.” Instead of just presenting one or two of these acts individually, Mitchell decided to partner with Nexus to create a two-night mini festival within a festival with OzAsia programming the international artists and Nexus selecting the local artists. The music aside, Mitchell delivers an exciting dance program to match last year’s contemporary dance selections. He has choreographer and dancer Hiroaki Umeda, who Mitchell calls “one of the most exiting contemporary dancers in the world” to perform the Australian premiere of his groundbreaking digital choreography piece Split Flow & Holistic Strata as well as Israel’s Vertigo Dance Company to present a special piece to celebrate two decades of the company. “Vertigo, for me, is one of the best contemporary dance companies in the world,” Mitchell says. “This work, in particular, is quite interesting because for their 20 year anniversary, the founding choreographer, Noa Wertheim, has pieced together all the different works over the past 20 years into one cohesive 60-minute piece. It’s got a new set, and new costumes, but draws on all of the works. She’s taken a 20 year snapshot of the company. It’s not a retrospective but it’s a new work.” Another intriguing work is The Record by New York’s 600 Highwaymen who will create an abstract movement piece using 45 nonprofessional performers from around South Australia for a snapshot of the state. “It’s a really powerful piece that says: ‘this is a record of the society we live in now.’ The work’s only ever been done in New York, Paris, Netherlands and now here. I originally saw it in New York; the reviews said that it was so refreshing to see the multicultural society that we live in on stage. The arts often struggle to do that. Even in New York, a city where they have a multicultural and diverse performance community. I thought this was a beautiful performance to bring. Talk about immersive performance, this is about bringing community into the performance and allowing them to be the performance.” OzAsia Festival Centre Saturday, September 17 to Sunday, October 2 ozasiafestival.com.au Photo Credits 1. Ryuichi Maruook 2. Maria Baranovaok 3. Gadi Dagon