Melbourne International Arts Festival
From: Thursday, October 11 2007, 9:00 am
to: Saturday, October 27 2007, 5:00 pm
The Melbourne International Arts Festival is Australia's premier annual celebration of the arts. Filling the whole city for over two weeks, the event welcomes the world's best in theatre, dance, visual arts, opera, music and literature.
The city is renowned for its abundance of theatres, galleries and performance spaces, and all take on an international aspect every October. Families are not forgotten, with free events organised over the three festival weekends throughout the city.
The festival started in 1986 as an Antipodean version of Gian Carlo Menotti's Spoletto Festival (following the Italian and American examples) but, in an enlightened procedure, invites artistic directors to programme two, or perhaps three, years only. Menotti oversaw the first three festivals, with five intervening directors until Jonathan Mills took over in 2000. Between 2002 and 2004 the director was Robyn Archer and her festivals had an ongoing thematic thread - "Text" (2002), "Body" (2003) and "Voice" (2004). The director for 2005 and 2006 - her first being actually the 20th festival - is Kristy Edmunds.
That's not to say Robyn Archer left the festival - in 2005 she appeared with Paul Grabowsky and The Agitators in i protest!, just one of over 80 shows. Throughout the festival from the USA, the Red Shoe Delivery Service whisked festival-goers around the city free, if - just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz - they donned red shoes, clicked their heels and said "there's no place like . . ."
Philip Glass brought his 2004 Athens Olympic commission Orion, and Richard Maxwell's New York City Players were seen in a Showcase and Good Samaritans. Diamanda Galas' Songs of Exile joined the Australian debut of the Stephen Petronio Company in Gotham Suite. The variety of the festival's reach is exemplified by 2005's furthest geographical extremes, from Cambodia's Weyreap's Battle with masked male dancers from Lakhaon Kaol, to Ariane Mnouchkine's ThĂ©âtre du Soleil two-part production of Le Dernier CaravansĂ©rail (OdyssĂ©es) about humanity's relentless journeying, from France.
Home-grown product is on display every night in Federation Square with Ride-In Movies, while no Melbourne Festival would be complete without the last night's Wrap Party.