The 2016 Melbourne Festival - an 18 day festival of the spectacular, the extraordinary and the groundbreaking - drew to a close yesterday with a celebration of multiculturism in which the most recent arrivals to our creative state shared their music and proud traditions at Our Place, Our Home
at the Melbourne Town Hall, a fitting bookend to the opening ceremony,Tanderrum
Artistic Director, Jonathan Holloway said: “We have danced with Kulin elders, run with fire, had our hair cut by children, been sworn at by much of Western Europe, been showered in ice, got lost in a labyrinth, launched over 200 tonnes of art trams and shared venues with brilliant artists from Victoria and the rest of the world.
“Festivals are full of heroes. Our artists, our team, our partners, our city … all have performed heroic acts to make this festival real.”
Celebrating the Festival to come with the now prominent event Tanderrum,
thousands turned out to Federation Square to see the five clans of the Kulin Nation: Wurundjeri, Boon Wurrung, Taungurung, Dja Dja Wurrung
perform a glorious welcome to country and extend an invitation for everyone to join them on this land.
Les Tambours de Feu (photo: James Henry)
In a new initiative in 2016, we invited audiences to get out of theatres and onto the streets and into unusual locations, most often for free. Haircuts by Children
enchanted customers at Razor Dolls Salon in Windsor and Fur Salon in the city; hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors either rode or watched one of the eight Melbourne Art Trams
; the exquisite MPavilion
in Queen Victoria Gardens hosted daily activities and performances; the stunning installation The Home Within
by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota
, seen by 4,000 people at Deakin Edge on opening weekend, before moving to Meat Market, and ending at Melbourne Town Hall alongside the day of music, performance and ceremonies in Our Place, Our Home
; and part game-show, part-theatre piece The Money
in the Legislative Assembly at Parliament House.
The Echo of the Shadow (photo: Sarah Walker)
The 2016 Festival has been a wholly immersive program that pulled audience members out of their comfort zone and asked them to be a part of the performances, every step of the way. From Deabru Beltzak
’s fiery opening, Les Tambours de Feu
which led 11,000 people around the CBD streets and laneways over three nights in a percussion filled parade, to Teatro de Los Sentidos
’s dream like state provoking labyrinth for just one person at a time, The Echo of the Shadow
, to New York choreographer’s Faye Driscoll’s Thank You For Coming,
which demolished the line between dancers and the audience resulting in a barefoot dance party.
887 (photo: E Labbe)
There were plenty of shows that had audiences and critics proclaiming “
Beg, borrow or steal a ticket immediately” including the five star review-magnet 887
by theatre legend Robert LePage
; National Theatre of Scotland’s
potty mouthed school girls in Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour
; the difficult to describe and impossible to forget Echo of the Shadow
; plus UK performer Jess Thom’s
inclusive and heartwarming Backstage in Biscuit Land
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (photo: Manuel Harlan)
Tickets to a number of this year’s world-class events were hard to come by with sold out seasons and performances enjoyed by Philip Glass Ensemble’s La Belle et la Bete, The Guerrilla Museum’s Funeral, Teatro de los Sentidos’s The Echo of the Shadow, David Bowie Tribute with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Back to Back Theatre’s Lady Eats Apple, Gob Squad’s War and Peace, National Theatre of China’s Two Dogs, Lucy Guerin Inc’s The Dark Chorus, Faye Driscoll’s Thank You for Coming, Le Terrible Orchestre De Belleville’s Triplets of Belleville
and Paul Kelly and Camille O’Sullivan’s Ancient Rain.
The Home Within (photo: James Henry)
Centred around Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota’s
arresting installation The Home Within
, the 2016 visual arts program provided much food for thought, gentle contemplation, a sense of history and change, an adventure through a market and virtual reality with Irish artist Gerard Byrne
at ACCA; Life Inside An Image
at MUMA; Public Art Melbourne Biennial Lab
at Queen Victoria Market; Lynette Wallworth’s
at ACMI; Chiharu Shiota’s
second installation Absent Bodies
at Anna Schwartz Gallery; and CCP’s celebration of documentary photographer Walker Evans.
Lady Eats Apple (photo: Jeff Busby)
We were proud to commission two beautiful new Australian works, alongside our partners in the Major Festivals Initiative: Back to Back Theatre
- one of the world's most exciting and urgent companies – premiered Lady Eats Apple
, which filled the enormous space of Hamer Hall with its ingenious staging; and Terrapin Puppet Theatre’s You and Me and the Space Between
, a tale of wonder and invention, brought to life in unexpected ways.
Haircuts by Children with (L-R) Zak, Jonathan Holloway, Hayuu (photo: Sarah Walker)
This year’s program proudly
attracted an array of unexpected and diverse audiences with National Theatre’s of China’s Two Dogs
, an improvised performance that welcomed a sold out audience of mostly young Chinese to the Malthouse Theatre, to Canada’s Mammalian Diving Reflex’s Haircuts by Children
which saw ‘customers’ of all ages, hairstyles and reason sit in the hairdresser’s chair for a re-style like nothing they had never had before, to Quebec’s Le Patin Libre’s Vertical Influences
which brought those with a love for the rink to O’Brien’s Arena in Docklands to witness the world’s first company to perform street dance on ice - these events aimed to not only expand the experiences of devout Festival goers, but attract some new ones along the way.
Ethereal Eye at Cultural Collisions (photo: Sharon Walker)
The Festival continued its ongoing tradition of presenting works in some of Melbourne’s great venues and institutions with an exploration of Gerard Byrne
’s work presented with A Late Evening In The Future
at ACCA and Life Inside An Image
at Monash University; Cultural Collisions
presented a campus wide program featuring the University of Melbourne’s most historical sites; and the Festival’s closing event and celebration of diversity, Our Place, Our Home
took place in the city’s most central old world venue, Melbourne Town Hall.
Not just a presentation of events and productions for audiences, the 2016 Festival also offered a diverse program of master classes, workshops and lectures led by some of the acclaimed, international artists appearing in the Festival. NYC choreographer Faye Driscoll
led a fun, messy, transformational performance practice where more not less was possible. Canada’s Le Patin Libre
presented a series of playful workshops for beginners through to more advanced ice skaters. UK-German group God Squad
offered an insight into the strategies and methodologies that the ensemble uses when creating new works, with a series of hands on, highly structured, improvisational exercises around the personal and the political, and Spain’s Teatro de los Sentidos
conducted an inclusive workshop on Poetics of the Senses
for Melbourne-based artists.
Like its New York counterpart, Directors Lab: Melbourne
enabled professional directors to take part in an intensive creative laboratory. Participating directors shared their skills, methodologies and learnings within a community of peers through masterclasses, workshops and explorations.
Triptyque (photo: Alexandre Galliez)
Audiences leapt to feet with enthusiasm for shows all across the Festival, but with particular relish for Canada’s Les 7 Doigts de la Main
dancing with crutches in Triptyque
, the emotional tribute to Aboriginal country music at Melbourne Recital Centre, Buried Country
and flamenco superstar, Sara Baras
at Hamer Hall over three performances.
Melbourne Festival featured over 60 events, many of which were free, with 10 world premieres and 18 Australian premieres and events exclusive to Melbourne from over 719 artists from 17 different countries across 38 venues, the program connected with an incredibly diverse and far reaching audience.
While final figures won’t be available until November, Holloway’s first Festival looks set to achieve a box office of approximately $2.9m. With tickets in high demand for so many exalted local and international events, the Festival looks set to surpass its target by 11%.
We have savoured that annual moment when Melbourne unites to show why it is a world cultural, culinary, sporting and complex city. Soon we begin preparations to do it again with the 2017 Melbourne Festival, from 5 – 22 October 2017