Brisbane Festival is a busy time of year in my current household. There’s a lot to see and experience in two weeks, and a lot of drinks to be shared and networking to be made. It was also my first Brisbane Festival experience.
So how was that experience?
My first taste of the festival was merely to have some drinks at the temporary Festival Lounge. The structure was a combination of bar, seating, dance floor, and DJ booth, surrounded by a selection of wood panelling, with a dash of hipster pirate. That’s right, everyone that seemed to be working in the festival hub appeared like they could be working on a Pirate ship. Or alternatively at any cafe in Melbourne. It wasn’t a bad thing, and made for good conversation and people watching. (There was a guy with vintage Tattoo looking weightlifters on his pants for example.) It had a great vibe to it, and the Bacardi Cocktail tasted amazing. We also grabbed some wood fired pizza that was cooked on site and tasted pretty good.
Central to the whole Festival Hub is a giant sculptural piece of art. This year it was a collection of bamboo that looked like a giant bird had thought the Spiegeltent yard was a great place to pop it’s nest. Throughout the night smoke would emit from the pile, and lights and lasers were projected onto it. There were also some giant Vinyl Toy looking Brisbane Festival Rabbit mascots that popped up as well.
I don’t really know what any of those things meant.
I caught three shows during the festival, each very different from the other.
Limbo in the spiegeltent was a hybrid circus/vaudeville/variety show including some modern takes on classic routines such as sword swallowing, strip teases, and tap dance, along with some pretty stock standard circus. I don’t know if I’m jaded by having studied next to NICA but so little circus wows me these days. There was a prety rocking live soundtrack to this show though, and while the whole night had a feeling of Circus Oz about it, the music was definitely one element that really upped it. A great mixture of live made sound with amazing post effects placed onto them.
This was also my first spiegeltent experience, even though I’ve loved them and wanted one for a very long time, and I must say the atmosphere inside is truly amazing.
The Perfect American from my first Spiegeltent experience to my first Opera experience- not a classic either, but the HUGE and highly anticipated Perfect American. Having played Madrid and London this massive production has made it’s way Down Under. Whilst the book was clunky and at times seemed like it was written by a 10 year old for a school assignment, the design really brought to life the world of Walt Disney, with fantastic visuals, and clever use of projections and animation.
Black Diggers premiered on one of the last nights of the festival, and comes into Brisbane with a successful season in Sydney under it’s belt. The story of Aboriginal soldiers during the first world war and the struggles they faced, the hope the war gave them that upon their return Australia would be more accepting of them, and the sad fact that it wasn’t. Told through a number of vignettes, which could really do with a trim, the stories are powerful, but once again the scenic design proves more poignant, through the writing on the wall, which is continually added to throughout the play.
I loved that I got to experience such a broad spectrum of performance style during the festival, and see things that I wouldn’t normally have gone to see.
To wrap up the festival was Riverfire, a gigantic firework show running along the Brisbane River right along the city. I was fortunate enough to get a good spot, and got some amazing footage, which I packaged together in my latest YouTube video!
Did you get a chance to attend anything at Brisbane Festival? What did you love? What didn’t you like? Did you get to see the Fireworks? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
All in all I thought the time I spent at Brisbane Festival was a lot of fun. It generated a lot of discussion on the arts, history, and just generally how beautiful Brisbane is. I love how it brought people together, whether it was to see a show, or watch the fireworks, and I loved that it felt more inclusive rather than high brow, which has always been my thoughts in regards to Melbourne Festival. I’m looking forward to seeing what next year brings, especially with a new Festival Director.