Perth Festival 2021 opens today with a dazzling array of Western Australian artistic excellence celebrating local stories with universal appeal.
Thank you, Perth, for all working together to navigate our road safely out of a lockdown. We’ve pivoted, pirouetted and pushed back the Festival program to welcome as many people as we can to experience the very best in theatre, dance, music, literature, visual arts and film.
The extensive 140-event program now runs from Monday 15 February to Sunday 14 March and includes 18 world premieres and 44 Festival commissions overflowing with wondrous Western Australian creativity celebrating the 2021 theme of Bilya (river) this summer.
Lotterywest Films resumes at UWA Somerville tonight (Monday 15 February) with the gripping true-crime film Assassins. We also begin a week-long celebration of disability-led films and screen culture with The Other Film Festival at DADAA in Fremantle.
Throughout the Festival, starting this Tuesday night, Perth Cultural Centre comes to life at City of Lights, Supported by Lotterywest, where the families can roam through a series of spectacular free projections and explore the precinct’s venues and nightspots.
Leading the way this week are world-premieres of Barking Gecko’s fun-filled family escapade HOUSE, the mesmerising moves of Co3 Contemporary Dance’s Archives of Humanity, Jay Emmanuel’s hope-filled survival adventure Children of the Sea and the slow-burn family drama Whale Fall.
‘These works would be celebrated on stages anywhere in the world but the stories could not be made anywhere else but here,’ says Festival Artistic Director Iain Grandage. ‘The world may not be making its way to Perth at Festival time – but in so many ways it is already here as we celebrate the rich diversity of our community.’
'Our Festival is a meeting place for people to get together and celebrate our shared humanity. We are thrilled to play a role in bringing many exciting new Western Australian voices to audiences here on Noongar Boodjar – and hopefully one day from here to the rest of the world.'
Highlights next weekend include the world premiere of Fist of Fury Noongar Daa, the first presentations of the Noongar-led walking performance Galup at Lake Monger and Witness Stand at key locations along the river. Rounding out a bumper first week is Literature Weekend in the City at His Majesty’s Theatre, Tim Minchin with West Australian Symphony Orchestra in King’s Park and WA Mixtape, a special chilled-out evening of musical reinvention of classic WA covers and originals presented in association with RTRFM.
Galleries across Perth are showcasing a compelling collective portrait of WA’s dynamic visual arts scene, including Abdul-Rahman Abdullah’s Everything is True at John Curtin Gallery, A Forest of Hooks and Nails at Fremantle Arts Centre, and the Tee Ken Ng-Tim Minchin exhibition Leaving LA at the Art Gallery of WA.
Projections at City of Lights will turn the Perth Cultural Centre into an immersive 360-degree cinematic thoroughfare, with its iconic buildings flooded with vivid colours and powerful stories about our place in the world. Seven projected works, including the Bilya Beneath tribute to the waterways of our city, will run in a continuous loop from 7.30pm to midnight Tuesday to Sunday nights right through to 14 March.
City of Lights encourages visitors to walk through and explore the precinct from surprising new angles.
While there, you can grab a bite before you see a show, drop into a local bar for a post-show drink, catch some free tunes at The State Theatre Centre’s STC Courtyard Sessions or some late-night fun at The Rechabite. Special guest curators will bring their own flavours to STC Courtyard Sessions, whether that’s the laid-back vibes of Grammy winner Lucky Oceans or the African beats of the crew behind Festival show Black Brass.
Our 2021 Literature & Ideas Program spans two weekends. On 20-21 February, His Majesty's Theatre will be buzzing as lovers of books and the people who write them share the joy at more than 30 events for Literature Weekend in the City. An array of local writers – and international and national special guests joining live by video link – will take centre stage at the beautiful, freshly refurbished heritage theatre. If you can't make it on the day, we’ve made it easy to buy a ticket to watch some key sessions from home. See the full schedule here.
The Labour Day long weekend kicks off with A Day of Ideas diving into discussions about the significance of the mighty Derbal Yerrigan / Swan River on the life of our city at Perth Concert Hall on 27 February. The next day we head to Perth Zoo for a Sunday of family fun when our Curated by Kids young programmers let their ideas run free at Wild Things: Perth Festival Takes over Perth Zoo.
This zootopia of authors, musicians and activities for all ages include Perth Symphony Orchestra pop ups, Soukouss Internationale, James Foley, animal illustration classes, creature choreography, Noongar storytelling and an animal passport trail that takes you around the world. With a focus on the conservation work by Perth Zoo, learn about the numbat, the western swamp tortoise and the red tail black cockatoo in this family day out.
We thank everyone for their patience while we rescheduled the Festival and give a standing ovation to all our participating artists, companies, crew and partners for their amazing support, flexibility and incredible hard work to make this happen. Ticket holders are being contacted about revised performance dates.
Due to limited orchestral availability, Dreams of Place will not be scheduled within the Festival period. We will provide an update as soon as alternative dates are confirmed.
We have a WA Health-approved COVID Safety Plan and remind everyone to follow Covid-safe practices at Festival events.
Perth Festival runs 15 February to 14 March. Lotterywest Films runs until 3 April, with The Mole Agent and Dating Amber screening on alternate nights from 29 March to 3 April.