The 38th Adelaide Festival, to be launched this Wednesday 9 November, at Adelaide Town Hall and via livestream offers a total of 52 events in theatre, music, opera, dance, media and visual arts, including major festivals-within-the-festival Adelaide Writers’ Week, UKARIA Chamber Landscapes and WOMADelaide – over 17 days and nights from Friday 3 to Sunday 19 March.
Featuring 11 world premieres, 8 Australian premieres and 17 events presented exclusively in Adelaide, the Southern Hemisphere’s preeminent arts festival will again celebrate diversity, innovation and our city’s world leading role as the place where global creative forces converge, blend and evolve.
In a transition from six hugely successful Festivals curated by artistic directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield, there is a new, all-women team in the driving seat at Adelaide Festival: internationally-respected Artistic Director, Ruth Mackenzie CBE; renowned arts leader Kath M Mainland CBE (Chief Executive); and prominent publishing industry leader, Adelaide Writers’ Week Director Louise Adler AM.
To view the 2023 program in list form, click here.
Ruth Mackenzie, who will direct the 2024, 2025 and 2026 Adelaide Festivals, says about presenting the 2023 program:
“I see my role as enthusiastic spruiker for the program initiated by Neil and Rachel. The international quality of their festivals more than doubled audiences over the past six years and it leaves our new team well placed to continue their legacy.”
South Australian Premier Peter Malinuskas MP says:
“We’ve been through some challenging years, but the joyous and reassuring thing about living in South Australia is knowing that, in March of every year, Adelaide Festival is a staunch highlight on the cultural and social calendar and a significant economic boost to the State. I thank all of those involved in 2023: directors, artists, performers, staff, volunteers, business partners and audiences.”
Minister for Arts Andrea Michaels MP says:
“The 2023 Festival program features a commitment to new and challenging experiences, from the large scale to the intimate across 17 days. With a string of Australian exclusives and premieres, Adelaide Festival cements its position as the place to see the best of the arts from Adelaide, Australia and around the world.”
Highlights, trends and what’s special about Adelaide Festival in 2023:
Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie on the power of choirs:
“The human voice, that most ancient and resonant of musical instruments, is particularly powerful en masse – a collective voice, a communal experience. This has been a passion evident in Neil and Rachel’s programming, notably in this year’s flagship opera Messa da Requiem, which will feature 80 of Adelaide’s finest choristers.”
“And we’re also looking forward to the first-ever Australian visit – exclusive to Adelaide – by the oldest surviving boys’ choir in the world: Escolania de Montserrat, founded in the 13th Century.”
On the Opening and Closing events:
“Young women’s voices are the powerful force behind our free opening celebration in Elder Park: Spinifex Gum, with voices and harmonies of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls in Cairns-based choir Marliya – with the full orchestral forces of the wonderful Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.”
“Air Play, a surreal, abstract, circus-like physical-theatre work by the USA’s Acrobuffos in the Festival Theatre, will close the Festival with a joyful, wordless visual poem incorporating flying umbrellas, balloons, snowflakes and the power of air that speaks to audiences of all ages.”
Chief Executive Kath M Mainland on the role of First Nations artists:
“Australian Indigenous voices are prominent across the range of art forms, headlining the opening night free concert in Elder Park with Spinifex Gum; enhancing the Festival Plaza with the installation/soundscape Unvanished; in music, with beautiful new song cycles wurukur djuanduk balag, composed by Dr Lou Bennett AM, and Ngapa William Cooper; didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton and rapper and musician BARKAA; and in dance, with Jurrungu Ngan-ga and Daniel Riley’s Tracker.”
Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie on international stars and shows:
“Eighteen countries will be contributing performances, artists and writers to our Festival. It’s particularly gratifying to see return visits by favourite global stars, such as Ivo van Hove and Crystal Pite – with Australian premieres for their latest triumphs A Little Life which will be performed by Internationaal Theater Amsterdam and Revisor performed by Canada’s Kidd Pivot. The Art Gallery of South Australia’s exhibition of Andy Warhol’s photographic work is not only an Australian premiere, but absolutely exclusive to Adelaide.”
“And I can’t imagine a more urgent and timely work than Dogs of Europe by Belarus Free Theatre, whose members are, ironically and tragically, political exiles from their country – as it becomes further enmeshed in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Possibly a glimpse into the future – not to be missed.”
Chief Executive Kath M Mainland on free events, families and young people:
“For 62 years it’s been a firm tradition of Adelaide Festival that the program is appealing and accessible to everyone – not just to arts aficionados but to audiences of all ages and walks of life. That’s our role as a South Australian arts institution and we always keep this firmly in mind when creating our programs.”
High quality free events in 2023 include the opening concert in Elder Park; major installations Unvanished and Lost Dogs Disco; top-drawer visual art exhibitions; and most Writers’ Week events featuring great international writers, from popular novelist Alexander McCall Smith to legendary food writer Claudia Roden.”
“Our Open House programs Tix for Next to Nix and Pay What You Can will again be available to assist benefit card-holders to attend a range of selected events.”
“Performances appealing to families and young people include the visual fantasy Air Play, Slingsby’s The River that Ran Uphill and Windmill’s quirky and challenging Hans and Gret.”
“And a new cultural initiative to be launched in 2023 is Create 4 Adelaide, in which young South Australians will vote on their top priorities for climate action, forming the basis for artwork to be created by young people across the state. This is a large-scale, year-long project encouraging young people to develop their creative skills and engage with local climate change priorities – resulting in digital and physical exhibitions presented in the 2024 Adelaide Festival.”
2023 Adelaide Festival performances and events:
Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie on:
“Adelaide Festival has presented many large-scale theatrical events, but Messa da Requiem is virtually unprecedented in its magnitude and impact, with over 170 performers.”
Over 80 Australian singers and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra join 36 dancers from Ballett Zürich to perform Giuseppe Verdi’s sacred oratorio, choreographed by Christian Spuck, conducted by Johannes Fritzsch. Tickets to Messa da Requiem, announced in August as the 2023’s ‘flagship’ opera, went on sale 8 September.
The THEATRE program
“Theatre is dynamic storytelling. We now have an amazing opportunity to appreciate, side-by-side, the many shapes that stories take, coming from our own world-class artists including Windmill and Slingsby, alongside their artistic counterparts sharing European, Middle-Eastern and Anglo-Australian theatrical traditions.”
Belarus Free Theatre, political refugees whose theatre is renowned for absurdist humour, theatrical disruption and activism, present Dogs of Europe, a dystopian story moving from 2019 to 2049 – a time when Russia has taken over several countries to form a new European super-state under the control of a secretive and brutal regime. Featuring haunting live music performed by Balaklava Blues, and based on the prescient 2017 novel by Alhierd Bacharevic, this is an urgent, landmark work from arguably the world’s bravest theatre company.
In Belgian theatre collective FC Bergman’s The Sheep Song, one sheep feels destined to lead a more glorious life than the rest of its flock, only to encounter the inexplicable and irrational world of human beings. A contemporary morality tale drawing inspiration from Flemish Primitive art, told through movement, visual theatre and puppetry and created by a company that many feel is destined to be highly influential in the coming years.
Ivo van Hove, renowned for his epic productions (including Shakespeare cycles Roman Tragedies and Kings of War at Adelaide Festival) adapts Hanya Yanagihara’s million-selling novel A Little Life, a gripping narrative tracking the deeply intertwined lives of four men over a period of more than 30 years.
In Grey Rock, Palestinian playwright and director Amir Nizar Zuabi (whose play Azza left a deep impression on audiences at the 2018 Festival) tells the story of Yusuf, an ordinary man in a present-day village in the West Bank who is driven by an extraordinary dream: to build a space shuttle in his shed.
Sydney Theatre Company returns to the glorious Her Majesty’s Theatre, as writer/director Kip Williams – who brilliantly adapted Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray for AF22 – returns with another vivid adaptation of a Gothic classic, transformed for the stage through live video: Robert Louis Stevenson’s spellbinding Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The River That Ran Uphill by Adelaide’s own Slingsby is told by Edgell Junior, a Ni Vanuatu man from Pentecost Island – who happens to be a member of Slingsby’s Flying Squad ensemble – and who experienced first-hand the 2015 Cyclone Pam, which ravaged the South Pacific. A moving production emphasising the importance of community and resilience.
A Windmill Theatre Company and Sandpit Design Studio production, Hans & Gret reinvents the classic fairy-tale for a new generation: an anarchic, edge-of-your-seat world premiere. Comes with a Health Warning: Don’t eat the gingerbread.
Flouting many of the rules of drama and narrative, Jonny Hawkins and Nell Ranney’s one-person show Maureen: Harbinger of Death challenges our views about older women. A caustic yet uplifting demonstration of the wisdom, vitality and humour of women often overlooked by society.
Chief Executive Kath M Mainland CBE on:
“Physical theatre – the exciting intersection of good old-fashioned circus skills with modern-day special effects and high-risk acrobatics, is story-telling without dialogue. Last year it took centre-stage at the Festival’s Opening Event; in 2023 Acrobuffo’s soaring, swirling, breath-taking ‘kinetic sculpture’ Air Play will be the closer, leaving us with indelible memories of 17 special days in Adelaide.”
Created by the USA’s circus performers Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone in collaboration with kinetic sculptor Daniel Wurtzel, the Acrobuffos’ Air Play is an adventure through a surreal land of air, playing seven shows in the Festival Theatre, with the finale on the last Sunday of the Festival.
New CONTEMPORARY MUSIC venue in 2023 – Hindley St Music Hall
Those who remember Hindley Street as Adelaide’s out-there nightlife entertainment precinct through the 1950s-1980s will be pleased to know the street is undergoing a resurgence, and in 2023 Adelaide Festival audiences will be treated to a musical celebration at the freshly opened venue, Hindley Street Music Hall. Festival artists and shows happening there include:
Celebrated Breton composer and multi-instrumentalist Yann Tiersen, reimagining his back catalogue into a wholly new body of work as a dazzling audio-visual live experience accompanied by the stunning visuals of UK artist Sam Wiehl;
Julia Jacklin, the daring lyricist whose intimate and folky storytelling has taken her on sold-out world tours and earned six ARIA nominations;
The Australian premiere of Pan’s Labyrinth x Sleep D created by Hear My Eyes, an unforgettable night of cinema and music played live as accompaniment to legendary director Guillermo Del Toro’s Cannes Film Festival masterpiece;
Rap susperstar Allday bringing rock and new wave influences to his alt-hip hop sound as he is joined by two rising stars in the Australian hip hop scene – Malyangapa and Barkindji artist BARKAA and Gomeroi rapper Kobie Dee;
Melbourne all-woman trio Camp Cope, whose staggering live shows can make performances to thousands feel intimate – winning critical acclaim from the likes of NPR, The Guardian and The New York Times.
The MUSIC program
New Zealand superstar Lorde’s concert on the Village Green as part of her 2023 Solar Power national tour will be a highlight of the final week of the Festival and her first visit to Adelaide in nine years.
Spinifex Gum, incorporating the lush vocals of Marliya – the Cairns-based choir of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the music of Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill, and choreography by Deborah Brown join forces with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and powerhouse singer-songwriter Emma Donovan as Adelaide Festival’s free opening night concert returns to Elder Park.
The stunning UKARIA Cultural Centre in the Adelaide Hills hosts the seventh Chamber Landscapes, the fine-music lover’s long-weekend escape. Titled Poème, the 2023 program curated by Paavali Jumppanen, Artistic Director of Australian National Academy of Music, explores the relationship between music and text – via songs, works with lyrics, compositions influenced by poetry and music inspired by myth.
Also at UKARIA – and the Adelaide Town Hall – is Ngapa William Cooper, created by composer Nigel Westlake and singer/songwriter Lior along with Lou Bennett. Vocalists Lior and Lou Bennett are joined by a brilliant line-up of musicians including the Australian String Quartet to perform this much-anticipated world premiere celebrating the life of unsung Australian hero and revered Yorta Yorta elder, William Cooper. In 1938, he led members of the Australian Aborigines League on an eight mile walk to the German Consulate in Melbourne to deliver a letter of protest about the Nazis’ Kristallnacht atrocities.
The Kronos Quartet makes its fifth appearance at Adelaide Festival with Five Decades, marking its stellar 50-year history, with guest vocalist Mahsa Vahdat and featuring the world premiere of a new work by Australians Jon Rose and Hollis Taylor, inspired by outback bird calls.
The great classical guitarist Karin Schaupp will join the unpretentiously brilliant Flinders Quartet at Adelaide Town Hall to perform quintets from early masters Boccherini and Carulli, Imogen Holst’s lyrical Phantasy Quartet, a rarity by the legendary John Cage and the world premiere of a guitar quintet by Carl Vine.
A rare event: Spain’s Escolania de Montserrat, founded in the 13th century, the longest-standing boys’ choir in the world, is coming to Australia for the first time in its 800-year history – to the Adelaide Town Hall exclusively for Adelaide Festival. Under the leadership of Bernat Vivancos – himself a former Montserrat choirboy – they promise a glorious and spine-chilling experience as they sing ancient works from the Abbey’s fabled 14th century ‘Red Book’, as well as those by more recent masters spanning the 17th century to the present day.
Great didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton and powerhouse violinist Véronique Serret blend songlines and storytelling in Heartland, an exciting collaborative work inspired by the poetry of William’s mother, Aunty Delmae Barton. A message of peace and love, carried by an eagle spirit.
The Cage Project, a collaboration between Australian percussionist/composer Matthias Schack-Arnott with French classical pianist Cédric Tiberghien, brilliantly interprets 20th-century musical maverick-cum-genius John Cage’s magnum opus, his Sonatas and Interludes of 1948.
The exclusive-to-Adelaide, Australian premiere of Fantastical Journeys displays the prodigious talents of New York composer Missy Mazzoli and violinist Jennifer Koh, under the direction of young prize-winning Finnish conductor Emilia Hoving in her Australian debut, plus the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra with a program of Mazzoli, Sibelius and Rimsky-Korsakov at Adelaide Town Hall. Jennifer Koh also performs a more intimate recital in UKARIA’s famed acoustics, on the final Sunday afternoon of the Festival.
wurukur djuanduk balag – Ancestors Are Calling, a beautiful new song cycle in multiple First Peoples languages composed by Dr Lou Bennett (Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung), responds to the precious belongings of First Peoples held in collections worldwide – a call for families to take the Ancestors home.
WOMADelaide, thirty years on from its first stand-alone staging, welcomes International Artists back to stunning Botanic Park with the return of the aerial spectacular Place des Anges from France’s Compagnie Gratte Ciel, and headline appearances from Florence + the Machine, Bon Iver, Youssou N’Dour and The Kronos Quartet in a performance additional to their Festival Theatre appearance.
Marrying sound and photography, Music for Other Worlds, a new collaboration between virtuoso keyboardist (and former Adelaide Festival Artistic Director) Paul Grabowsky with renowned South Australian artist Alex Frayne contains the element of surprise: Grabowsky’s task is to accompany the imagery of Frayne’s ethereal projected photographs on the grand piano – without seeing them before and improvising in real-time.
Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie on:
The DANCE / DANCE-THEATRE program
“Two of the three major dance works in the 2023 Festival are by Indigenous Australian creators telling important stories of First-Nations people: Jurrungu Ngan-ga [Straight Talk] is confronting, addressing Australia’s shameful history of inappropriate incarceration; while Tracker, telling a more personal story, invites the audience into an open and transformative ceremonial space. Both have messages about resilience, and both exploit the kinetic power of dance to tell stories.”
Jurrungu Ngan-ga, a deeply affecting and urgent work by one of Australia’s most innovative dance theatre companies, Marrugeku, connects the disproportionate levels of Indigenous Australians in custody with the indefinite detention of asylum seekers in Australia’s immigration detention centres. Its title translates from Yawuru as ‘straight talk’ and takes inspiration from the words and experiences of Yawuru leader Patrick Dodson, Kurdish Iranian writer and former Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani, and Iranian-Australian scholar-activist Omid Tofighian. With dark humour and courage, the work interrogates our capacity to lock away the things we fear – and shines a light on new ways to resist.
Tracker, staged at Norwood’s Odeon Theatre, is one of the first works by Wiradjuri choreographer Daniel Riley in his role as Artistic Director of Australia’s oldest contemporary dance company, Australian Dance Theatre. Evoking the powerful story of his great-great uncle, Alec Riley, a Wiradjuri Elder who served the New South Wales Police Force as a tracker for 40 years at the beginning of the 20th century, Tracker is brought to life by a team of celebrated First Nations creatives: playwright Ursula Yovich, Rachael Maza AM, composer James Henry, visual artist Jonathan Jones and an all-First Nations cast.
The Adelaide-exclusive Australian premiere of Revisor brings together the extraordinary talents of Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite and theatre-maker Jonathon Young, creators of 2017 Adelaide Festival hit Betroffenheit. The farcical world of Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector serves as the inspiration for Revisor, a true hybrid of dance and theatre by acclaimed Vancouver-based company Kidd Pivot.
Chief Executive Kath M Mainland on:
The VISUAL ARTS program
“We congratulate and owe a debt of thanks to Adelaide’s venerated and cutting-edge galleries, curators and exhibitors who keep the visarts on display all year round, but really come into their own at Festival time: Art Gallery of South Australia; Uni SA’s Samstag Museum of Art; ACE – Adelaide Contemporary Experimental; the Adelaide Botanic Garden; and beautiful, heritage-steeped Carrick Hill.”
Andy Warhol & Photography: A Social Media, exclusive to Adelaide at the Art Gallery of South Australia reveals an unseen side of the celebrated pop artist, through more than 250 works, spanning photographs, experimental films, screen prints and paintings – including his famed portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. Decades before social media, Warhol’s work was candid, collaborative and social; this exhibition asks the question: Was Warhol the original influencer?
His famous quote – that in the future, everyone would have 15 minutes of fame – could be adapted to more like 15 seconds in today’s fast-paced world. What would you do for yours? Everyone is invited to contribute their best TikTok or Instagram attempt using the hashtag #15seconds and tagging the Art Gallery (@agsa.adelaide) and Adelaide Festival (@adelaidefestival). Bonus points for using Bowie’s “Fame” track.
Mis Remembered Bones Chapter 2 at Samstag is the exclusive world premiere of acclaimed international moving image artist Emily Wardill, a speculative installation exploring what might happen if bodies became an imaginary material.
Also at Samstag, ceramicist Bruce Nuske and furniture designer Khai Liew join forces for a masterful exhibition featuring Nuske’s playful and highly decorative sensibility set against Khai Liew’s own singular and refined approach. Tasmanian-born, Lisbon-based James Newitt has exhibited videos and installations nationally and internationally. Deeply researched and richly poetic, his new work, HAVEN, expands the artist’s inquiry into island utopias and conflicted situations of detachment and autonomy.
South Australian artist Catherine Truman’s skilfully-crafted objects that make up her exhibition The Arrangements: assembling nature explore the roles and rituals of cultivation, harvest and the arrangement of plants and flowers in the lives of Carrick Hill’s former residents – and today’s audiences. Inspired by the beautiful grounds and heritage architecture of the grand Carrick Hill estate, this world premiere exhibition expertly unpacks our relationship with the natural world and reinforces the capacity of art to disrupt.
ACE at Lion Arts Centre is the new setting for selected works from the 23rd Biennale of Sydney, A river that flows both ways; effectively a new exhibition curated by Biennale Artistic Director José Roca in collaboration with Adelaide Contemporary Experimental, with works by Imhathai Suwatthanasilp, Aluaiy Kaumakan, Yuko Mohri and Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi.
The Santos Museum of Economic Botany at the Botanic Gardens is the perfect home for Biotic Commune, the Australian premiere/Exclusive exhibition by Kasia Tons, the Adelaide textile artist whose work sits at the intersection of art, fashion and craft. A late 19th century museum devoted to informing people about ‘useful plants’, the Museum of Economic Botany’s rich history has proven fertile ground for artistic inspiration for exploring the symbiotic relationship between plants and humans.
INSTALLATIONS and INTERACTIVE EVENTS
Those who loved the glowing, humming creatures in last year’s Cupid’s Koi Garden will again make a beeline for Mount Barker’s spacious green Keith Stephenson Park to enjoy Lost Dogs’ Disco, a happy grunting, barking, howling and growling celebration of our four-legged friends, inflated by Melbourne’s public art collective ENESS. Patrons are welcome to bring their dogs and take their own memorable selfie at this free family-friendly event.
The Festival Plaza is again a public centrepiece of festivities as the site for Unvanished, an immersive installation by acclaimed Barkindji artist Kent Morris, Studio John Fish and sound designer James Henry. Bringing together nature, industry, story and technology, the three-sided sculptural form references land, water and sky as well as First People’s cultural continuity through time – past, present and future, connecting industrial and residential buildings with Indigenous design elements. Unvanished invites visitors to reflect on the connections between humans, nature and built environments from a First Nations perspective.
Director Louise Adler on:
ADELAIDE WRITERS’ WEEK
“Adelaide Writers’ Week in 2023 takes its lead from the inimitable Fran Liebowitz: “a book is not a mirror; it is a door through which the reader is invited to walk”. There will be up close and personal encounters, lively disagreements, writers reflecting on both truth and the lies that give us comfort, writing in exile, taking sides, who can tell whose story, and insights into dangerous minds both real and imagined. Imponderables will be pondered, fresh doubts raised, new perspectives illuminated, and solace afforded by wordsmithing of beauty and authenticity.”
Amongst many others appearing at the free-attendance program at Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden will be three very different novelists in the ‘crime’ genre: Ireland’s Dervla McTiernan, Zimbabwe-raised Englishman Alexander McCall Smith and Australia’s acclaimed Queen of rural noir, Jane Harper.
By contrast, legendary food writer Claudia Roden, who introduced the West to lentils, cumin, cucumber and yoghurt, will also be on the bill. Free writing-related activities for young people Kids’ Day, Middle Grade and YA Day are again on offer.
Alongside the free program are two ticketed events featuring UK theatre luminaries, with playwrights Tom Stoppard and David Hare at the Adelaide Town Hall:
A Celebration of the Life and Work of Tom Stoppard is a virtual conversation between one of the household-name playwrights of our age and his biographer, the doyenne of the genre, Dame Hermione Lee. His first major play, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, staged at The National Theatre in 1967, launched a career spanning over 50 years in theatre and screenwriting. The event includes screening of a prerecorded session and a live virtual conversation, with Sir Tom Stoppard livestreamed from London.
David Hare Live brings ‘the premier political dramatist writing in English’ – Washington Post – to the Town Hall stage to read his powerful autobiographical monologue Beat the Devil (originally performed in London by Ralph Fiennes in the first months of the pandemic) followed by a conversation on the pleasures of writing about truth, lies and public lives.
The full Writers’ Week program will be announced in January 2023.
OTHER ‘CONVERSATIONAL’ ACTIVITIES in the 2023 Adelaide Festival include a special edition of ABC’s Insiders, broadcast from the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden from 6.30pm on Monday 6 March, with Premier of South Australia, Peter Malinauskas as the political interviewee of the week.
Breakfast with Papers again happens daily from 8.00am at The Star Kitchen & Bar, with Tom Wright and an expert panel of journalists, academics, writers and commentators scrutinising the headline news of the day over croissants and coffee.
Youth & Education
Global research shows that inspiring and thought-provoking arts experiences expose young people to new perspectives on the world and have a lasting impact on how they engage with their communities. Thanks to the support of Lang Foundation, Adelaide Festival offers discounted prices for schools attending selected performances, as well as Teacher Resources available for download from mid-January here.
Adelaide Festival is committed to making sure those facing financial barriers can still access all the Festival has to offer. Tix For Next To Nix, supported by the Balnaves Foundation, provides 2,500 tickets for just $5 each, available in advance of the performance for those with a current Pension or Health Care Card. Low-income earners – with a current Health Care Card, Pension Card or full-time student card – can access Pay What You Can tickets to a selection of shows available one hour prior to performances at dates and times to be confirmed.