What begins and ends with two massive gigs, will light up the sky three times a night, and includes everything from unsettling shipping container installations to a kaleidoscopic house of mirrors and a mind- (and body-) bending circus? That'd be this year's Brisbane Festival, which will feature nearly 600 performances across a huge 22 days when it returns between September 8–29.
Marking his fourth stint as Brisbane Festival's artistic director, David Berthold has curated a stacked program of almost 70 shows for the 2018 lineup — featuring more than 1000 artists, taking over 17 venues, and serving up 100 performances for free.
As always, the fest's lineup spans the full array of arts, culture, performance and music events, so if you're keen to catch an inventive new play every night at the returning Theatre Republic — or schedule your life around gigs at Brisbane Arcadia — then you're about to become mighty busy.
Certain highlights include Séance, which has spooked out audiences in Sydney and Melbourne, and now comes to Brisbane to unleash its immersive sonic scares in 20-minute bursts; Horror, the already-announced production that's like bringing a frightening film to the theatre; and the return of House of Mirrors, aka the reflective labyrinth you'll want to get lost in once again. Or audiences can witness Homer's Illiad turned into a memorial for fallen soldiers in Memorial; catch the world premiere of LIFE the show, the latest cabaret-fuelled circus effort from Blanc de Blanc and LIMBO's Strut & Fret; and watch eight same-sex couples tying the knot in a joyful garden street party celebration.
Want more? There's Peter Grimes, the acclaimed opera by Benjamin Britten, as well as Hamnet, which stars an 11-year-old who takes on Shakespeare by playing the bard's abandoned son. Over in Home, a house will be built on the QPAC Playhouse stage each night, with the process turning into a party. And thanks to A Force at Flowstate, a public artwork will evolve moment by moment and day by day, adding materials that have flowed through the space — and holding free workshops so that everyone can take part.
Music-wise, Brisbane Festival's two bookending gigs at the Riverstage will get things started with Ball Park Music and San Cisco on September 8, and then cap it all off with Violent Soho, Meg Mac, Methyl Ethel and WAAX on September 29. In-between, Brisbanites can catch sets by Tkay Maidza, Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project, Sarah Blasko, Destroyer, Polish Club, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Jen Cloher and Eskimo Joe — the latter with Brisbane's chamber Camerata.
The list keeps going, with classical pieces combining with Circa's acrobatics in En Masse, puppet show Umami Mermaids exploring the world of mutated sea sirens, and pianist Sonya Lifschitz working her fingers as historical footage of the likes of Joseph Stalin, Ai Weiwei, Bertolt Brecht, John F. Kennedy and Julia Gillard screens in Stalin's Piano. And while it all comes to an end with Riverfire's usual bright display of blazing fireworks — for the 21st year, in fact — a thrice-nightly light show called River of Light will also illuminate the city, featuring giant spirals of water, coloured lighting and rainbow-hued lasers along the river at South Bank.