Best in show – our top five picks for Brisbane Festival
It’s almost September – spring has sprung, the days are getting longer and soon enough, around one million people will be enjoying the sensory explosion that is the iconic Brisbane Festival. The program is an eruption of diversity including elements of theatre, music, dance, circus and opera, as well as major public events such as Sunsuper Riverfire. Running from September 3–24, this year more than ever punters are spoilt for choice with a mixture of local legends and international stars coming out to play. We’ve put a magnifying glass to the amazing line-up of live entertainment to bring you our picks for Brisbane Festival this year.
Snow White – September 3–24 at La Boite Roundhouse Theatre
In a world premiere, La Boite Theatre and Opera Queensland have joined forces to create a mind-bending reimagination of the Grimm classic Snow White. Everyone knows the basic premise of the story, but this gritty reboot has been designed to turn the tale on its head. Forget the fluffy fairytale business – think Tarantino if he was into musicals. Four musicians and four remarkable singer/actor slashies from styles spanning opera to rock have teamed up to create a musical and theatrical experience that is physical, immersive and evocative. The production is taking place in the intimate Roundhouse Theatre under the direction of an artistic dream team including Opera Queensland’s Lindy Hume, with a haunting score by Zulya Kamalova set to Suzie Miller’s poetic text. Entertainment and eroticism combine in this NSFW collaboration set to make you wriggle in your seat, so it’s best to leave this one for the adults.
Kim Gordon – Tuesday September 6 at the Aurora Spiegeltent
Often the best kind of music comes when people stop being polite and start being real, and that’s exactly what Kim Gordon brings to her shows. Best known as the co-founder of iconic alt-rock outfit Sonic Youth, Kim has forged a formidable path over three decades of creating – her work as a visual artist, writer and designer has seen her cult influence spread worldwide. Last year saw Kim publish her memoir Girl in a Band, the title referring to the often-asked and most despised question for females in the music industry. The story reflects elements of her live performance, which promises a set jam-packed with rawness and honesty. Local punk-rock powerhouse Waax will open the night with their inimitable live show, fronted by the “utterly terrifying” (in the best possible way) Marie DeVita. We dare you to sit still. Good luck.
Rules of the Game – September 14–17 at the Brisbane Powerhouse
Jonah Bokaer, Daniel Arsham and Pharrell Williams are three stupidly talented figures in the entertainment industry who have spilled their collective genius into Rules of the Game, a full-on sonic and visual feast that makes its Australian premiere at Brisbane Festival. Loosely based on a play by Luigi Pirandello, the production is an all-in multidisciplinary work for eight dancers – some amongst the most gifted of their generation – featuring dance, video and sculpture. Cutting his teeth as the youngest dancer to ever join Merce Cunningham’s company, Jonah also has chops as the legendary Robert Wilson’s regular choreographic collaborator. His crisp, graceful aesthetic accompanies Daniel’s offbeat, architectural environments and Pharrell’s first-ever orchestral score for theatre or dance. Rules Of The Game is performed with two earlier works – Jonah’s signature solo RECESS and Why Patterns, a series of choreographed games featuring 5000 ping pong balls.
Robert Forster – Sunday September 18 at the Aurora Spiegeltent
Legend is a term that can sometimes get thrown around without much thought, but Robert Forster truly deserves the full weight of the title. The Brisbane native and iconic singer-songwriter rose to prominence in the 80s as one half of The Go-Betweens, a project shared with the late great Grant McLennan. Their sharp lyrics and inability to be pinned down to any genre earned The Go-Betweens a keen cult audience that remains strong. At his Brisbane Festival appearance, Robert will perform songs from his first solo album in seven years – Songs to Play – as well as digging into his back-catalogue. The event will also be his first concert following the August release of his memoir Grant and I, which explores his long friendship and collaboration with Grant. Joining him on stage will be fellow musicians and local creatives Karin Baeumler, Luke McDonald, Scott Bromiley and Chris O’Neil.
La Verita – September 20–24 at QPAC
If it’s coming from the same minds responsible for Cirque du Soleil, you know it’s going to be knock-your-socks-off levels of amazing – step into the universe of La Verita, a dreamy circus spectacular. Weaving narrative with stunning visuals, internationally renowned director Daniele Finzi Pasca has created a production centred around the talents of 11 very limber performers who will sing, dance, juggle, shimmy and contort their way through a Dali-esque dreamscape. It promises to be tricky, trippy and full of heart, as well as totally family-friendly. The Swiss-based Compagnia Finzi Pasca are bringing their mix of astonishing acts and fantastic visuals to Brisbane for the first time, so don’t sleep on this one.
These top picks are just the tip of the iceberg in a program that’s brimming with shows and activities of all shapes and sizes – to see the full line-up and snap up tickets to other events, head to the Brisbane Festival website.