Running Order: OzAsia teases 2018 program, announces first shows

A radical 21st century opera, a Chinese modern classic and an uplifting Korean contemporary dance piece provide a taster of this year’s OzAsia’s program.

There are changes afoot for the 2018 incarnation of the OzAsia Festival. It will be held much later in the year (late October and early November) and will feature a major literature component, the Jaipur Literature Festival, confirmed for the next three spring festivals. The organisers have also decided to release a sneak peak of the program rather than the whole shebang due to the change in date. The shows announced are three Australian premieres: Stan Lai’s Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, Hotel Pro Forma’s War Sum Up and Eun-Me Ahn’s Dancing Grandmothers.

“I think these show the diversity of the program: we’ve got a strong theatre piece [Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land], a strong dance piece [Dancing Grandmothers] and contemporary opera [War Sum Up],” says OzAsia’s artistic director Joseph Mitchell.

Denmark’s Hotel Pro Forma returns to Adelaide for the first time since Barrie Kosky’s 1996 Adelaide Festival with a radical piece that exemplifies OzAsia, according to Mitchell.

“On paper this is an acclaimed contemporary Danish opera director working with a Latvian radio choir doing a Japanese libretto based on Noh theatre texts with magna theatre design,” he says. “But that’s what OzAsia is about: it’s about looking at the global influence of contemporary Asian identity and this is a really great example of that.”

War Sum Up (photo: Supplied)

Mitchell calls Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land from maverick Chinese theatre director Stan Lai “timeless” as it “still resonates as much today as it did when it premiered 31 years ago”.

“Stan is a megastar. He’s the most acclaimed director in all of China and everybody knows who he is, which isn’t bad with 1.2 billion people. He’s had a prolific career and incredible amount of successful theatrical works. This was his first work that hit big and has become a household play.”

Korean choreographer Eun-Me Ahn is a former associate of Pina Bausch. Dancing Grandmothers is a “real ode to her love and respect for the women who founded Korea”, according to Mitchell.

Dancing Grandmothers (photo: Eunji Park)

The three shows join the previously announced Jaipur Literature Festival, Japan’s Ryoji Ikeda (sound artist) and Chiharu Shiota (visual artist) as well as the annual Moon Lantern Parade, which will be held in a much larger area this year after capacity issues hampered last year’s event.

“We’re in the process of all the various stakeholder meetings,” Mitchell says in regards to the parade’s increased capacity. “Last year we had the redevelopment [of the Festival centre] still happening, so it was, I think, the smallest footprint because of that. We are negotiating the various road closures and site infrastructure now. That should all come through in the next month or so and we will have the biggest footprint for the general public.

“It’s [Moon Lantern Parade] grown from initial audiences of 12,000 people 10 or 11 years ago to nearly 40,000. Clearly there’s a lot of love and demand for the event. So we just keep working to make sure we can accommodate the interest because it’s a free public event.”

OzAsia Festival
Thursday, October 25 to Sunday, November 11
ozasiafestival.com.au

Header image: Dancing Grandmothers (Photo: Young Mo-Choe)

Adelaide In-depth

Get the latest stories, insights and exclusive giveaways delivered straight to your inbox every week.