2021 Darwin Festival reveals early release shows

DF21-Queen-KongDarwin Festival is back in a big way for 2021 and a tantalising taste of some of the many treats on offer from Thursday 5 – Sunday 22 August is out now! There really is no better place to spend Hot August Nights than in the Top End, and with ten sizzling shows on sale, now is the time to get planning.

A fabulous festival feast of circus, comedy, cabaret, theatre, music, visual arts and family fun awaits as Darwin Festival takes over the town and dishes up a tropical winter wonderland. Darwin Festival welcomes artists from across the country to join this program, bursting at the seams with events showcased throughout the CBD.

It all kicks off with the free, family-friendly Santos Opening Night Concert, which this year sees The Amphitheatre transformed into a meeting place of dance, song and ritual for Bungul. Celebrate the music and culture of Gurrumul and the people of North East Arnhem Land in a live performance of Gurrumul’s final album, Djarrimirri by Yolnu dancers and songmen and the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

This work is one of the largest ever co-commissions in Darwin Festival history. Presented free of charge for the only time during its national tour, the Festival is delighted to be bringing such an important cultural work to audiences in the Territory.

Gravity & Other Myths’ The Pulse is an exhilarating spectacle that will leave audience mouths agape. This epic circus production is unlike anything Darwin has ever seen before and features 30 acrobats performing heart-stopping stunts and incredible feats of strength, accompanied by the spine-tingling vocals of a live 22-person choir. The impressive work is the second of the two incredible co-commissioned works by Darwin Festival included in the 2021 program and was developed by artists throughout 2020.

Renowned intercultural dance theatre company Marrugeku celebrates 25 years with a powerful and provocative new work that brings them back to the NT for the first time in many years. Challenging, joyful and deeply affecting, Jurrungu Ngan-ga – literally translated as ‘Straight Talk’ – confronts Australia’s shameful fixation with incarceration in a world premiere performance featuring movement, spoken word, installation and an original musical soundscape.

Theatre lovers are spoilt for choice with the release of two stunning shows. The story of Nauru and the plight of asylum seekers who found themselves there is the subject of the compelling and unsettling theatre work We All Know What’s Happening. Performed by children, this thoroughly entertaining show is part school musical, part history lesson and part political probe.

While Ilbijerri Theatre Company’s Heart is a Wasteland combines First Peoples storytelling with live music in a whisky-fuelled love story that takes place on the road from Darwin to Alice.

Darwin Festivals’ newest outdoor stage in Festival Park is back! The INPEX Sunset Stage hosts an incredible line-up of music, comedy and cabaret throughout the Festival. Australia’s favourite Venezuelan, Ivan Aristeguieta (Channel 10’s Have You Been Paying Attention, Best Comedy Nominee, Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2021), has survived lockdown and is bringing his hilarious new show (and infectious grin) to the Top End.

From the artist who delighted (and shocked) Darwin audiences as the larger-than-life Yana Alana, comes The Legend of Queen Kong – a queer, comic, sci-fi rock odyssey of meteoric proportions, bursting with hilarious pop culture references, mind-blowing visual projections and unforgettable original music. And with live Auslan and captioning, the show is fully accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing audiences.

Contemporary music is back at the INPEX Sunset Stage in a big way, and our eclectic line-up kicks off with Pitjantjatjara/Torres Strait Islander woman and superstar in waiting Miiesha. Inspired by the sounds of RnB, gospel and soul, this incredible young singer-songwriter has a voice that just has to be heard – as much for her velvety vocals as for her important message.

Dance lovers are in for a real treat as Sydney Dance Company bring their thrilling combination of modern ballet, yoga and contemporary movement to the Darwin Entertainment Centre in Impermanence, where they are joined live on stage by the Australian String Quartet performing a score by The National’s Bryce Dessner.

And Bizet’s iconic opera, Carmen, comes to life at Darwin Entertainment Centre in a vibrant new production with Opera Australia’s singers, a live chamber orchestra and a children’s chorus drawn from the Darwin community.

“We were so lucky to have a Festival in 2020 which gave us a unique opportunity to showcase our incredible homegrown talent,” said Darwin Festival Artistic Director Felix Preval. “With borders open again, we’re excited to return to a program that places the best of the NT alongside Australian artists at the top of their game for 18 incredible days.”

“Add to that, two of the biggest commissions in Darwin Festival history, and it’s set to be one of our most ambitious yet.”

The 2021 Darwin Festival runs Thursday 5 – Sunday 22 August. Full program announced Friday 18 June. For more information, visit: www.darwinfestival.org.au for details.

Image: The Legend of Queen Kong (supplied)