The Melbourne Festival has hit the big three oh — and what better way to celebrate than with a two-and-a-half-week-long party. The team behind Melbourne's flagship cultural event have pulled back the curtain on their 30th anniversary program, and it's every bit as exciting as we've come to expect. Clear your calendar and make room for more than 70 events, including 17 Australian premieres, featuring artists, musicians and theatre makers from all around the world.
Headlining the event are a number of major theatre productions, including the smash hit West-End adaptation of George Orwell's seminal novel 1984. A nominee for Best New Play at the 2014 Olivier Awards, the timeless tale about the dangers of government surveillance and control will have its exclusive Australian season as part of the Melbourne Festival. Organisers have also programmed a number of supplemental events including a live reading at the Legislative Assembly Chamber in Victoria's Parliament featuring notable politicians, media personalities and actors, as well as a special film program at ACMI entitled Eyes Without a Face: Surveillance in Cinema.
Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, meanwhile, has teamed up celebrated opera and theatre director Peter Sellars on Desdemona, a restaging of Shakespeare's classic play Othello, featuring music from award winning Malawi singer-songwriter Rokia Traore, that uses the story of its doomed heroine to explore questions of violence, class, race and gender.
Israel's Batsheva Dance Company will take to the stage with a pair of works by preeminent dance maker Ohad Naharin, while Belgian company Peeping Tom present the intensely physical dance theatre show 32 Rue Vandenbranden. Also making its Melbourne premiere is the award-winning Spiegeltent production LIMBO, combining circus, acrobatics and cabaret.
Leading the music program is a tribute to Patti Smith's iconic rock album Horses, which will be performed in full by Courtney Barnett, Jen Cloher, Adalita and Gareth Liddiard. UK folk singer Laura Marling will play Hamer Hall for one night only, while Flight Facilities will team up with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for a performance at the Myer Music Bowl. Also in the mix is master film composer Clint Mansell and electronic jazz pioneer John McLaughlin.
There'll be more music happening at the Foxtel Festival Hub, a cafe/bar/performance venue on the banks of the Yarra. Over the course of the festival, the hub will host the likes of Icelandic techno duo Kiasmos, English post-punk band The Fall, French ten-piece Babylon Circus, local favourites Bombay Royale and Cut Copy, and many, many more.