Although Patron and Governor of WA Mr Malcolm McCusker committed the ultimate theatre sin whilst launching the 2012 Perth International Arts Festival by mentioning the Scottish play in a performance space; his speech about the “mouth-watering smorgasbord” of performances WA will enjoy in February was an eloquent opening to what sounds like an excellent program.

Running from 10 February to the 3 March, the 2012 Perth International Arts Festival will be the 60th Festival and the first for new Artistic Director Jonathan Holloway. Talking animatedly about the shows to come, it’s easy to see why Holloway believes festivals are the “extreme sports of the arts industry” and should be about “disruption and engagement”.

Key changes from the 2011 festival include the traditional evening opening being replaced by a Dawn (or 7am) Opening on Cottesloe beach. Featuring a Welcome to Country, followed by a specially commissioned piece by Iain Grandage for 600 voices, this promises to be a unique, WA beginning. The ceremony is then repeated that evening down in Albany for the Great Southern Festival.

The Becks Music Box of the previous years has been renamed to the Festival Gardens and moved to a more intimate outdoor space between the State Library and the WA Museum. The Main Stage hosts some world renowned acts including The Suitcase Royale (fresh from a Europe tour), a Reggae tribute to Nirvana (Little Roy), Jazz superstar Eddie Palmieri, and a Capella group The Magnets. Some shows are standing shows only, so check before you book.

Classical Music and Opera highlights include the Australian Chamber Orchestra performing Chopin and Mendelssohn; a Brahm’s Chamber Weekend; Peter Brook directing a French production of Mozart’s A Magic Flute; and from Italy, Ennio Morricone conducting his own cinematic music at the Sandalford Estate Winery.

The dance program includes the ever popular Ballet at the Quarry; contemporary Brazilian Dance Company Grupo Corpo with Onqoto & Parabelo; and legendary Choreographer Lucinda Childs from the US brings her dance company to Perth in an Australian Exclusive.
Theatre choices abound, and I was very excited to hear that Propeller, the all male Shakespearian Company who wowed Perth a few years ago were returning with two new shows, Henry V and The Winter’s Tale. The short video we saw of James Thierree’s Raoul has made the slapstick illusionist a must see, as is the new production Beautiful Burnout by the company who brought us Blackwatch a few years ago.

Holloway and the Festival Team have excelled themselves by being able to increase the Rio Tinto Family Program, including all ages spectacles such as Place Des Anges by French company Les Studios de Cirque and Home Sweet Home, a constantly evolving event by Subject to_change.

Sure to be talked about by the whole of Perth will be the Red Ball Project, where a large (and I  mean LARGE) red ball will be squished and wedged and propped into all sorts of strange places around Perth, transforming little known spaces of Perth into works of art.

Let’s not forget the Visual Arts program, the Writers Festival and Lotterywest Festival Films, crammed full of interesting and new ideas, people and experiences. As Holloway states in his opening message “having defined the experience of the 20th century Festival over the past 59 years, our job now is to redefine what it is to be a Festival in the 21st century.”  And the 2012 program looks like it might just do that.

The 2012 Perth Festival runs from 10 February – 3 March 2012. Visit

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