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Adelaide Festival fires up with Oval spectacular

Adelaide Festival

The open-air pyrotechnics spectacular set to light up Adelaide Oval for the 2016 Festival of Arts opening weekend will be like “beautiful visual poetry”, says French director Christophe Berthonneau.

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Titled À Fleur de Peau, the sold-out show combines fireworks, flames, “explosions of colour”, projections and an original electro-acoustic score.

To be presented for one night only on Saturday before an audience of 25,800 people, it has been created by French production company Groupe F, which has previously performed at two Olympic opening ceremonies, lit up the Eiffel Tower, and presented a show at the 2010 Adelaide Festival.

Berthonneau told InDaily À Fleur De Peau would be presented by a cast of six actors and 20 backstage technicians.

The actors wear bright, illuminated costumes and are sometimes suspended in the air. They will perform on a specially constructed 58m-long by 7.4m-tall stage onto which are projected stunning images which Berthonneau describes as abstract but mostly inspired by nature.

“It is a little theatre between the bodies of my light players and the images. They are humans in the middle of the landscape, and sometimes the environment is reacting. They create a storm, disasters, wars.”

Two 2m x 12m shipping containers of equipment, including 60 flame generators, will be used for the show, with Festival organisers saying that at times the fireworks will reach a height of 100 metres.

Explosions of colour and light. Photo: Daniel Roblin / Adelaide Festival

Explosions of colour and light. Photo: Daniel Roblin / Adelaide Festival

But there is a message behind the spectacle. À Fleur De Peau, which Berthonneau says means someone who is sensitive or reacts very quickly, examines the relationship between humans and the natural world.

He says wants to encourage people to consider how they can have less impact on the environment and preserve the beauty around them – but stresses the idea is shared in a “gentle” way.

“It’s about how in the new century we may need to consider that we can be rich just having the knowledge, not using the things around us. So the question is to use things or to observe them.

“It’s not telling a clear story – it’s really like visual poetry. It’s beautiful.

“The audience, after the show, they will talk a lot … they will have questions. That’s really what I want.”

À Fleur De Peau became the fastest-selling Adelaide Festival show ever when more than 10,000 tickets sold in the first three days after the program launch last year. The final allocation of seats was released last Friday and also quickly sold out, with a total of 6000 seats in the stand and 18,500 seats on the oval pitch.

Other top-selling shows on the program for the 2016 Festival ­– which passed its $2 million box-office target a week ago ­– include Scottish theatre trilogy The James Plays, about three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the 15th century, and dance show Nelken, created by celebrated German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch.

James I, the first play in the 11-hour James Plays trilogy, opens tonight at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Festival Theatre.

Other opening-weekend shows in the Festival, which runs until March 14, include:

Go Down, Moses: Italian theatre director Romeo Castellucci’s esoteric new play which subverts the Book of Moses.

Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo: An interactive theatre show which uses puppetry to “reverse extinction”.

The Events: A play about a priest’s quest for answers after she survives a massacre, starring actress Catherine McClements and also featuring local choirs.

The Young King: Adelaide theatre company Slingsbsy’s new work, adapted from an Oscar Wilde short story and being presented in the old Dazzeland space in the Myer Centre.

Habitus: Contemporary dance work by SA’s Australian Dance Theatre, featuring ironing boards, sofas and other household items.

Unsound Adelaide: A celebration of experimental and underground club music featuring a range of Australian and international artists over two days.


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