The 2014 Adelaide Festival, which opens today with a free “calypso-pop” party in Elder Park headlined by Kid Creole and the Coconuts, is already close to reaching its $2 million box office target.
More than $1.75 million worth of tickets have been sold so far, with film star Isabella Rossellini’s one-woman show Green Porno, six-hour Shakespearean political drama Roman Tragedies and the series of concerts featuring US “maverick” composer John Zorn among the hot sellers.
“We’re within a whisker of our target,” Adelaide Festival director David Sefton told InDaily.
“We may not make it by opening, but we won’t be far off.”
Sefton said the multi-media show Roman Tragedies, which is exclusive to Adelaide and will have three performances at the Festival Theatre, had already reached its ticket-sales target.
Actor John Waters’ single performance of the comic monologue This Filthy World Vol. 2 at Elder Hall sold out some time ago, and there are few tickets left for Green Porno, an offbeat show at Her Majesty’s Theatre in which Rossellini explores the sex lives of insects and sea creatures.
Among the less high-profile shows proving popular is Belgian theatre company SKaGeN’s BigMouth, a one-man performance celebrating 2500 years of oration.
“BigMouth, which is quite an unusual show and therefore quite a difficult show to sell, is doing really well,” Sefton said.
“It’s one of the most compelling pieces of theatre I’ve seen in the last few years, so I’m really pleased by that.”
For 2013, his first year as director, Sefton chose to open the Adelaide Festival with a free open-air concert by Neil Finn and Paul Kelly in Elder Park – an event that attracted some 25,000 people. This year there will be another free concert, but with a different kind of vibe, led by ’80s group Kid Creole and the Coconuts and soul singer Charles Bradley.
“I wanted to go for something very light-hearted and fun … it’s basically a huge party.”
Running from February 28 until March 16, the 2014 Adelaide Festival will feature 1000 artists and writers from more than 29 countries, with 29 Australian premieres and the same number of Adelaide exclusives. It encompasses theatre, music, dance, film and visual art, with Adelaide Writers’ Week (March 1-6), WOMADelaide (March 7-10) and the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art all coming under the Festival umbrella.
A new innovation this year is Lola’s Pergola, an open-air Festival club on the Torrens Riverbank which is described as “a backyard picnic on the ultimate quarter-acre block”. Replacing the popular Barrio, a shantytown-style space in Hajek Plaza which was the site of the Festival club in 2012 and 2013, Lola’s Pergola is intended to be more a celebration of South Australian food and wine, although there will be DJs later in the evening.
There will also be a series of 10 degustation dinners, which Sefton said had already sold out.
“There’s a huge buzz. Changing up from the Barrio model is a big step – but the feedback has been universally positive.”
The Festival director said that after the success if his first program last year, he felt able to push boundaries further in 2014. That involved taking on an epic like Roman Tragedies, as well as a five-and-a-half-hour film – the controversial River of Fundament.
Described in the program as a “strictly-18+” radical reinvention of Norman Mailer’s Ancient Evenings novel, River of Fundament has already sparked a storm after being described as “disgusting” and a “pit of self-indulgent ooze” by two American reviewers.
Responding to the criticism this week on ABC local radio, Festival chief executive Karen Bryant said it was just one of 50 works being presented in a program that had something for everyone; “in fact, there is multiple things for everyone”.
Asked to nominate the show he is most looking forward to seeing during the Festival, David Sefton can’t narrow it down to just one. There’s the Zorn series, the Tectonics Adelaide concerts featuring the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the re-staged production of theatre-maker Robert Lepage’s Needles and Opium, the Unsound series showcasing electronic and experimental music – and, of course, Roman Tragedies.
“I’ve seen Roman Tragedies before but I’m dying to see it again – I would put it in my top 10 of all time,” Sefton said.
The free Adelaide Festival opening night party feature Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Charles Bradley will begin in Elder Park at 8pm on Friday, February 28.
Adelaide Festival hub
Click here for InDaily’s stories and reviews from the 2014 Adelaide Festival, including WOMADelaide and Adelaide Writers’ Week.
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