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OzAsia Festival Announces 2023 Program

Thursday, 17 August 2023

Audiences can expect remarkable contemporary dance, powerful theatre, delicious cuisine, engaging conversations and brilliant musicians when OzAsia Festival, Australia’s leading contemporary arts festival engaging with Asia, returns to Adelaide Festival Centre from October 19 to November 5.

Launched today, this year’s dynamic program features more than 300 national and international artists from 13 countries, and includes three world premieres, seven Australian premieres and nine Adelaide premieres.

On the opening weekend more than a dozen giant lanterns will light up the riverbank precinct for the much-loved Moon Lantern Trail. This year will feature three new lanterns, including one specially created to celebrate Adelaide Festival Centre’s 50th anniversary. This free, family favourite event also offers roving performances, live music, interactive workshops and delectable food.

Showcasing the best of Asian and Asian Australian performance, OzAsia Festival is curated by Artistic Director Annette Shun Wah: “It’s such a joy that for this, my third OzAsia Festival program, I’ve been able to re-connect with artists in our region. As a result, we’ve invited some stunning productions that are exciting audiences in Asia, while continuing to support new Asian Australian works and fertile artistic collaborations across Asia and Australia.

“Reflecting the times, the themes of freedom, survival of endangered cultures and resilience are occupying the thoughts of many artists right now, both locally and abroad, providing profound and provocative works for our 2023 program.”

After a stellar career creating works for Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and New York’s Martha Graham Dance Company, tiaen tiamen Episode 1 is choreographer Bulareyaung Pagarlava’s bold statement about the survival of culture. Performed by Bulareyaung Dance Company, an Indigenous performing arts group from Taiwan, this Australian premiere is firmly rooted in tradition, yet brimming with radiant colour and psychedelic electronic beats.

In an intimate performance on the Festival Theatre stage, Infinitely Closer by Singapore’s T.H.E Dance Company will beckon audiences to step inside the work itself for an interactive and uniquely engaging experience that combines contemporary dance with enthralling holograms. Created with a team of international collaborators featuring Australian dancer Billy Keohavong led by director Kuik Swee Boon, this Australian premiere reflects upon freedom within the shifting realities of our modern times.

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM: “We are proud to present three spectacular weeks of the best contemporary Asian and Asian Australian performance, art, literature, cuisine, and culture this spring, and look forward to welcoming audiences to our venues as OzAsia Festival lights up the riverbank precinct once again.

“What a wonderful way to round out our 50th anniversary year that has showcased all five of Adelaide Festival Centre’s diverse festivals.”

Theatre buffs can look forward to two returning international companies – including New Zealand’s Indian Ink Theatre Company with the South Australian premiere of Paradise or the Impermanence of Ice Cream. This powerful play melds a dash of Bollywood disco and playful puppetry with thought-provoking musings on impermanence – of life, love and ice cream delivered by the same company that dazzled audiences at the 2018 OzAsia Festival with Guru of Chai.

Malaysia’s Five Arts Centre will return to OzAsia Festival with their new work A Notional History, featuring a performer, a journalist, and an activist exploring the possible histories for a different Malaysia, intersecting the personal, the national, and the notional. This documentary performance calls for wider perspectives on history and is a companion piece to Punk Protest Propaganda: The Political Art of Fahmi Reza, exhibiting at Nexus Arts Gallery.

In another Australian premiere by a celebrated international performer, Canadian composer and performer Njo Kong Kie has transformed the poetry of worker-poet Xu Lizhi into song. In I Swallowed A Moon Made of Iron Njo’s score for solo voice and piano delivers a contemplative landscape combined with a rich tapestry of video imagery.

Music is used to explore the migrant experience in Dung Nguyen and Peter Knight’s 1988, taking the year Dung arrived in Australia as the starting point for an extraordinary musical and visual journey.

Fusing the traditional and contemporary is The Bridal Lament – a multi-disciplinary live performance by award-winning vocalist, producer and artist Rainbow Chan. Drawing on her Weitou ancestry (the first settlers of Hong Kong), the work reimagines a ritual known as the bridal lament, bringing to life an emotive and dynamic world of projection, movement and colour, in Rainbow’s theatrical debut.

Buried TeaBowl – OKUNI is a solo performance by Yumi Umiumare, Australia’s leading Butoh artist, unearthing sacred female power which has been buried throughout history. Combining dance, text, and song, underscored by dynamic visual elements, a compelling original musical score, and a tea ceremony, Yumi channels the multifaceted character of Okuni, a Japanese female dancer and shrine maiden who initiated Kabuki theatre in the early 1600s.

Returning for its third year, the hilarious Special Comedy Comedy Special brings together a stellar bill of Asian Australian comedians with live music by local street band Trio Sepia hosted by Sami Shah. Featuring AJ Lamarque, Jason Chong, Jennifer Wong, Jenny Tian, Leela Varghese, Michael Hing, Patrick Golamco, Sashi Perera and Suren Jayemanne.

The Honourable Andrea Michaels MP, Minister for Arts: “This year’s OzAsia program contains an array of exciting and engaging experiences across dance, theatre, cuisine, music and conversation expertly programmed by Annette Shun Wah. Festivals are at the heart of our state and the Malinauskas Government is proud to support this extraordinary festival, which gives South Australians a taste of Asian culture right here at home.”

OzAsia Festival favourite, Lucky Dumpling Market, is once again at Elder Park serving up a vibrant range of delicious cuisine from the best local vendors. Enjoy free live entertainment on the outdoor Lucky Beats stage featuring a selection of local, national and international contemporary music acts including Emily Wurramara, festival favourites 1300, triple j’s Jade Zoe and friends, Jaguar Jonze, Singapore’s SAtheCollective, Hyoshi in Counterpoint and more!

AnimeGO! the annual celebration of Japanese pop culture will return to Adelaide Festival Centre on Sunday 29 October – for one day only!

On the final weekend witness thought provoking conversations between poets, novelists, journalists, playwrights, performers, and creatives from around the world, when writing and ideas program In Other Words returns to OzAsia Festival. Curated by writer and performer Jennifer Wong with guest curators Sami Shah and Durkhanai Ayubi, the full program of exciting events for In Other Words will be announced in September. Stay tuned!

Another treat for the final weekend is the return of OzAsia Festival’s Bubble Tea Garden at Festival Plaza; the perfect place to relax in the sunshine with friends and family, a great pit-stop between In Other Words sessions.

A vast array of visual arts are also on display throughout the festival, including; HOME-LAND by OzAsia Festival 2023 hero image artist Chris Yee and Yellah Fellah an exhibition by Gary Lee, Jason Wing, Damien Shen and Carolyn Oakley exploring the artists’ Chinese and Aboriginal heritage at the Galleries in Festival Theatre Foyer. Adelaide Festival Centre’s outdoor screens will exhibit the latest version of award-winning Back to Back Theatre’s short film project, THE DEMOCRATIC SET Seoul, South Korea.

At Art Gallery South Australia, Misty Mountain, Shining Moon: Japanese landscape envisioned will express the beauty of the Japanese landscape as represented by some of the world’s most celebrated artists; and in Adelaide Festival Centre’s Drama Centre Rehearsal Room will be The Little Nests – an enchanting, evolving and immersive installation and performance experience. Brought to life through a three-year collaboration between artists from Australia, Indonesia’s renowned Papermoon Puppet Theatre, and Singapore’s The Artground, The Little Nests has been developed in collaboration with children from all three countries.

This year, OzAsia Festival has teamed up with Adelaide Film Festival to present the best of contemporary Asian cinema, featuring a unique showcase of Indonesian films from the Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival. Stay tuned for the full program announce in September.

With plenty of free workshops, masterclasses, and talks also on offer, stay up to date on program details at 

Tickets will be on sale from 10:00am ACST on August 17, online and via Ticketek. As part of Adelaide Festival Centre’s commitment to Arts for All, all tickets to all shows will be available for $25 when purchased between 10:00am ACST August 17 and 11:59pm August 20.

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