NEWS: PIAF 2016 – Just the theatre

PIAF 2016 is here!

It’s still only November 2015, but we Perthlings can begin to get excited NOW for Ferbuary and March, because Perth International Arts Festival 2016 is on its way. The line-up has been announced, the website revamped with all the pertinent information, and there are some wonderful things in store. Let’s have a look at the theatre portion of the festival.

Next year, PIAF will be presenting 4 works EXCLUSIVE to the festival and 4 PREMIERES.



refuse the hour 2016REFUSE THE HOUR

William Kentridge is back to PIAF in 2016. His challenging and lauded work, Ubu and the Truth Commission was presented at PIAF 2015 at the State Theatre, and his The Refusal of Time in 2014 at PICA, but next year we’ll see Refuse the Hourwhich is billed as “a phantasmagoric chamber opera investigating time.”

About the piece:

An epic theatrical companion piece to Kentridge’s video installation, The Refusal of Time (2014 PIAF), Refuse the Hour interweaves an astonishing array of visual and sound languages, dance, live music, projections, drama and dynamic scenic design. Kentridge acts as a contemporary storyteller, recounting a tale that begins with the myth of Perseus and ends with Einstein’s visionary findings. 

With Kentridge centre stage, the various elements swirl around him: dancer and choreographer Dada Masilo enters into a tight physical interaction with the artist and set, singers and musicians perform Philip Miller’s riveting score, an array of musical machines clatter intermittently into life and Catherine Meyburgh’s video design animates the proceedings.

This is on at the Perth Concert Hall from 12-14 Feb, tickets $35-$79


HAMLET_2015_7U2G2594_photographer_Martin_TuliniusTHE TIGER LILLIES PERFORM HAMLET

Dark cabaret trio The Tiger Lillies present their “anarchic take on Shakespeare’s classic.” Originally produced in 2012 by Copenhagen’s Republique Theatre and directed/designed by Martin Tulinius, the show promises to be a “macabre, absurdist feast of sumptuous song and opera grotesque.”

About the piece:

A suite of new songs and a cast of actors, circus acts and giant puppets transform this iconic tragedy into a display of musical and visual fireworks. British musical trio, The Tiger Lillies, bring their punk cabaret style to Shakespeare’s classic tale of love and betrayal, murder and revenge. These post-modern jesters tell the story of the anguished prince Hamlet with their own macabre twist, punctuated by the hauntingly beautiful falsetto and dark, edgy songwriting of frontman Martyn Jacques.

This is on at the Regal Theatre from 17-21 Feb, tickets $25-$79


guts heart gloryNO GUTS, NO HEART, NO GLORY

Initally in learning about this work, I’m reminded of a piece presented at PICA by The Blue Room as part of their 2015 Summer Nights program at FRINGE WORLD  called Pale Face Gold Blood by Mina Mokhtarani. Her piece was dubbed “an Iranian translator’s boxing workout,” whereas this piece by UK’s Common Wealth tells us, “They are young. They are powerful. They are Muslim.” This is a standing show presented in situ at a gym.

About the piece:

Based on interviews with female boxers, and written by Aisha Zia and devised in collaboration with five 16–23 year-old Muslim women and the former UK national champion Ambreen Sadiq, this provocative production is a chance for young Muslim women to represent themselves, to dance, to box, to swear, to get angry, to enjoy it, to be champions.

With a live electronic sound score, epic visual design, cinematic lighting and the raw energy of the Queen Street Gym, this immersive show explores what it is to be young, fearless and doing the unexpected. It’s a powerful reminder to be brave, proud of who you are and where you come from.

This is on at the Queen Street Gym from 23-28 Feb, tickets $25-$36


the_great_escape_-_the_borrowersTHE GREAT ESCAPE (A BORROWER’S TALE)

Performance artist Kazuko Hohki (Frank Chickens) and musician Andy Cox (The Beat and Fine Young Cannibals) are presenting a CHILDREN ONLY EVENT! That’s right, kids only. This is immersive children’s theatre, and ages 6-11 are in for a treat. Originally developed in schools in the UK in 2010, it’s based on Mary Norton’s novel The Borrowers. And frankly, with cool co-creators like Hohki and Cox, I’m pretty jealous of Perth kids right now, those lucky sons and daughters.

About the piece:

A children only promenade production, incorporating interactive installations, alongside multimedia, original songs, storytelling and a concert on miniature handmade instruments. The audience of children are led on a fully supervised adventure journeying into a series of specially prepared spaces containing interactive exhibits and installations, on a quest for Bob the Borrower, discovering tiny clues and helping him escape the evil clutches of the KBD (Keep Borrowers Down movement).

This is on at the Geography Building, UWA from 19-21 Feb, tickets $20






WOW WOW it’s MEOW MEOW! It looks like she’s moved from the fringes to the main festivals now, and is bringing to Perth the second part of her Little trilogy of “fairy tales gone rogue” developed with Malthouse Theatre. Meow Meow is larger than life and a truly unforgettable performer known as a ‘kamikaze cabaret’ diva. And in this show she’s paying tribute to her fellow Aussie divas Kate Miller-Heidke and Megan Washington by including their music.

About the piece:

Hans Christian Andersen’s bittersweet fable of teen self-sacrifice, salvation and seduction is given the subversive Meow Meow treatment. The result is a sexy spectacle and a modern cabaret take on love and other catastrophesA world of sea shanties gives way to a glittering array of contemporary music by the likes of Amanda Palmer, Kate Miller-Heidke and Megan Washington in this operatic and outrageous sea ride.

This is on at the Octagon Theatre, UWA from 24-28 Feb, tickets $25-$55


Every-Brilliant-Thing-MainEVERY BRILLIANT THING

Writer Duncan Macmillan and performer /writer Jonny Donahoe bring their “life-affirming” and “heart-wrenching” show about depression to PIAF. “A new play about depression and the lengths we will go to for those we love. Each performance of Every Brilliant Thing involves members of the audience, making every night unique.”

About the piece:

You’re six years old. Mum’s in hospital. Dad says she’s ‘done something stupid’. She finds it hard to be happy.

You start to make a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world.

Everything that’s worth living for.

  1. Ice Cream
  2. Kung Fu Movies
  3. Burning Things
  4. Laughing so hard you shoot milk out your nose
  5. Construction cranes
  6. Me

You leave it on her pillow. You know she’s read it because she’s corrected your spelling.

Soon, the list will take on a life of its own.

This is on at the State Theatre Centre of WA, Downstairs and Albany Entertainment Centre from 11-20 Feb, tickets $25-$36


hr_i-know-youre-there_03I KNOW YOU’RE THERE

Can festival-goers handle two shows about depression? I bet they can, because each one will be a unique experience. I Know You’re There comes from Perth’s pre-eminent creator of intimate, small scale, and one-on-one performance, James Berlyn. His work is produced by the good folks at Performing Lines WA, who nurture some of WA’s most unique performance artists. Get tickets for this one as soon as you can, because it will sell out, and when you do get your ticket, make sure you get there on time, because latecomers will not be admitted.

About the piece:

Pull up a chair and join him around the table for an intimate investigation into the stories we tell and the things that remain unspoken. I Know You’re There is a very personal reflection on depression and suicide touching three generations. It subtly exposes the consequences and far-reaching impact of the decisions we make. 

Through storytelling, dance and conversation with each of the audience of just 16, this incredibly moving and poignant journey invites discussion, reflection and personal transformation.

This is on at the State Theatre Centre of WA, Upstairs from 19 Feb – 6 Mar, tickets $25-$45


web_hr_a-mile-in-my-shoes_05A MILE IN MY SHOES


This is a free event presented by the UK’s The Empathy Museum and the newest hub of storytelling in Perth, Centre for Stories, who invite you to “try someone else’s life on for size.” The Centre for Stories will be “collectiong first person oral stories that form a snapshot of the breadth of diversity in WA,” and are asking if you have a story to share. And don’t we all? Register your interest here. 

About the piece:

A Mile in My Shoes is an empathy shoe shop, where visitors are invited to walk a mile in the shoes of a stranger – literally. Housed in a giant shoebox, this interactive exhibition contains a collection of shoes and audio stories that offers a snapshot into the breadth and diversity of who we are in Western Australia. You simply choose a pair of shoes – that may belong to a refugee, a sex worker or a FIFO operator – and walk a mile listening to the personal story of the shoe owner’s life.
In partnership with PIAF, The Empathy Museum and Centre for Stories are creating an extraordinary collection of stories that will give us a glimpse into the lives of Western Australians from all walks of life.

This is on at Stirling Gardens from 18 Feb – 6 Mar, and it’s FREE.




1-The-Wild-Duck-Eloise-Mignon-Anthony-Phelan-Photo-Heidrun-LohrTHE WILD DUCK

Every theatre person needs a little Ibsen injection every now and again. It’s like eating your greens: you know you need to, and you know if they’re cooked just right, you might even like it and you’ll feel good about it afterwards. Simon Stone’s Belvoir production of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck will probably make a pretty healthy meal. His adaptation was first seen in Australia in 2011, has since toured the world, and comes to WA direct from Belgium in March. If you’re looking for the PIAF headlining theatre production, this is probably it.

About the piece:

In this refreshingly modern version of The Wild Duck, Stone goes straight for the jugular, stripping back Ibsen’s text and firing the action in rapid, unpredictable scenes. The superb ensemble of actors are put behind glass, turning the audience into voyeurs. From our seats we watch the characters as they struggle with unbearable truths, in a glass box from which no escape seems possible.

The Wild Duck is must-see theatre – a fierce work of immediacy and emotive power.

This is on at the Heath Ledger Theatre, STCWA from 3-13 Mar, tickets $25-$79


06object-articleLargeTHE OBJECT LESSON

In PIAF 2015, we had a Paper Architect from the UK who brought a bunch of boxes to CIA Studios. In 2016, Geoff Sobelle, an actor, illusionist and inventor from the US, is bringing a bunch of boxes to the Studio Underground. His work is The Object Lesson, “a hilarious and heartbreaking solo performance/junk-pile-installation that invites audiences to poke about and delight in Sobelle’s immense, chaotic, richly crafted storage space before it comes to life.”

About the piece:

Sobelle’s expedition into a miscellany of memory leads him to break, bury, fix, steal, store, chop, drop and toss through trash and treasure alike. You are encouraged to roam the giant storage facility, browsing, poking and playing in this immaculately detailed world, where intimate theatre and art installation combine for one breathtaking and unforgettable experience.

The Object Lesson is a whimsical, one-of-a-kind meditation on the stuff we cling to and what we choose to leave behind.

This is on at the Studio Underground, STCWA from 11-20 Feb, tickets $25-$36



If you’re a fan of your roving, immersive theatre, then this is the event for you. Presented by pvi collective in association with the City of Subiaco and PICA, commissioned by Performance Space Sydney, blackmarket is classified as “part roaming artwork, part real-life video game.” But unlike The Great Escape, this is for adults only, specifically 18+. This is guerrilla theatre led by a group of renegade artists. No word on exactly which guerillas are involved just yet…and you’ve got to buy a ticket to find out where to go.

About the piece:

blackmarket invites you into a dark underworld of unlicensed street selling and entrepreneurial trading. In the fictional world of pvi’s urban role-playing game, the global financial crisis has arrived and you are forced to fight for survival as a ‘hustler’ within a black market economy. Exposed to an underground economic structure where goods and services are available but cash has no value, you must trade your possessions in return for survival skills and services.

From psychological coping mechanisms to physical training, urban survival skills to weaponising garbage, pvi’s blackmarket is highly immersive, instruction based and perversely fun.

This is on in the Streets of Subiaco from 16-27 Feb, tickets $71-79


Be sure to get in quick to the Perth Festival website to get your tickets for the intimate shows with limited audience numbers, as they will sell out very quickly. They do every year, and then we kick ourselves for procrastinating. It’s an ugly, vicious cycle, and you wouldn’t want to do that to yourself.