Adelaide Festival 2004: Black, white and beyond

Unlike some of its visionary predecessors of the 1990s, the 2004 Adelaide Festival was small, quiet and thematically restrained. Nonetheless, director Stephen Page included some striking choices in his broad programming mix. I took in the second week of the festival, primarily an opportunity to see the British performance group Forced Entertainment, who proved to be among the greats of the Adelaide Festival’s remarkable history. Gulpilil provided a truly unique experience and New York’s Absolute Ensemble played 2 superb concerts, offering, as Chris Reid suggests (p27) new possibilities for new music. The Indigenous content of the festival was strongly felt, aided by an eminently wise decision to collaborate with the Adelaide Fringe to present a joint program. As Jeremy Eccles comments, “Despite his efforts to play down the Indigenous core of the festival, Stephen Page has created a fascinatingly non-prescriptive mix. His only agenda seems to be to make an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander presence seem normal…” (p29).

Canstage’s movement work The Overcoat (inspired by Gogol and Shostakovich; Canada) was over by the time I arrived and appeared to have sharply divided its audiences, while the dance work Conjunto di Nero from choreographer Emio Greco and PC Company (Netherlands) won the hearts of RealTime readers and associates. In her piece on Marco Frascari, one of the guests of the festival’s Architecture Symposium, Linda Marie Walker writes that Conjunto di Nero was a “dance performance where bodies present themselves as living/dying compositions immersed in scores of light and sound, ‘drawn’ irrevocably by the ‘fact’ of their own mingling flesh” (p30). I did see La Carniceria Teatro’s (Spain) I Bought a Spade at Ikea to Dig My Own Grave but, though nicely performed, its ragbag of performance art cliches added up to little. It was interesting to see 2 of the performers stuff food up their naked arses and the audience not take exception. Forced Entertainment’s verbal assault on its audience had a much more palpable effect. Here then are responses to a selection of performances and events RealTime encountered in the 2004 Adelaide Festival. At the end of the report there are links to Adelaide Fringe shows also reviewed in this edition.

RealTime issue #60 April-May 2004 pg. 14

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 April 2004