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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Brisbane Festival 2019

This year's festival sees the Botanic Gardens set ablaze for a series of fire shows, a mind-bending maze of 1000 doors and 90s-themed opening party.
By Sarah Ward
August 26, 2019
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Brisbane Festival 2019

This year's festival sees the Botanic Gardens set ablaze for a series of fire shows, a mind-bending maze of 1000 doors and 90s-themed opening party.
By Sarah Ward
August 26, 2019
  shares
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Every year, before Brisbane Festival drops its full lineup, it teases the city's arts fans with a few sneak peeks. In 2019, the event's early reveals have included a blazing garden of fire, an immersive theatre production that takes over an entire warehouse and a screening of No Country for Old Men with a new live score — but they're just a taste of the whole program.

Just unveiled in all of its glory, the festival's entire feast of arts, music, performance, comedy, cabaret, installations and culture promises everything from amazing mazes to ambitious theatre productions to music-fuelled birthday bashes, which will all liven up the city between September 6–28. By the numbers, Brisbane Festival 2019 will feature 454 performances of 83 shows over 23 huge days. Performer-wise, it'll boast 908 artists from around the globe. And for artistic director David Berthold, it'll commemorate his fifth year at the helm.

After House of Mirrors proved such a hit in 2018, it should come as no surprise that Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney are bringing their equally mind-bending 1000 Doors to this year's fest. As the name suggests, you'll navigate your way through a huge setup of doors, which'll be located at Brisbane Festival's Arcadia hub at the South Bank Cultural Centre Forecourt. Also in the expected and thoroughly welcome camp: the return of the event's biggest-selling show to date, aka Strut & Fret's Blanc De Blanc. The hedonistic cabaret's encore version won't be exactly the same as its last, so that's reason enough to head along.

With this year marking 30 years since the Brisbane Riverstage hosted its first gig, Bris Fest is throwing the famed outdoor venue a shindig — and, with the help of Hot Dub Time Machine, partying like it's 1989. Much of the event's music lineup will also takeover the site, including The Amity Affliction, City and Colour and the enormously popular (and free) Symphony for Me orchestral show. There'll be tunes over at The Tivoli, too, including a 90s-themed throwback for opening night, featuring Groove Terminator with a gospel choir, plus the likes of Paul Dempsey and Emma Louise in the rounds.

Other highlights include Kate Miller-Heidke, fresh from her dazzling Eurovision performances; Chinese choreographer Yang Liping's Rite of Spring; both Sam Simmons and John Safran, with each breaking out their inimitable comedy stylings; Bryony Kimmings' acclaimed I'm a Phoenix, Bitch; the world premiere of Fangirls, which ponders teenage obsessions. Or, you can enjoy a dance-off eisteddfod featuring ordinary folks, Regurgitator doing a family-friendly show, and a stage production that sees four people recreate Tetris — yes, the classic video game — with their bodies.

In the old fave camp, Riverfire is back to close out the fest with a literal bang, plus River of Light returns to cast another laser-filled glow over the city's central waterway while drawing upon local Indigenous history. As always, the spiegeltent will once again set up shop and welcome a host of musicians, such as Girlpool, Justin Townes Earle and Bruno Major, while the performance-focused Theatre Republic will host modern takes on ancient myths, an apocalyptic drama that combines climate change and Chekhov, and a cycle of stories about love, death and friendship.

Brisbane Festival runs from September 6–28 across Brisbane. For the full 2019 program, or to book tickets, visit the festival website.

Compagnie Carabosse Fire Gardens images by Vincent Muteau

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