After a year of heeding messages to ‘social distance’ and keep apart, Rachel Healy knows how badly people want to now come together.
It is this idea that forms the vision behind The Summerhouse, the Adelaide Festival’s new home on land between the Adelaide Festival Theatre and the Dunstan Playhouse.
Across 17 days and evenings, The Summerhouse will play host to concerts, musicians, special guest speakers and a Crescent Bar overlooking the River Torrens.
The artistic director of the Adelaide Festival says organisers have “loved the idea of creating a special festival hub” that was a “platform for ideas and energy around current affairs that was activated morning, noon and night”.
“We are incredibly aware of the eagerness of our community to reconnect with each other, it is a primal human need, especially after a period of prolonged isolation,” Rachel says of the spot, which will host the Festival for the next three years.
“When (joint artistic director) Neil Armfield and I visited the Darwin Festival in August, it was the first festival that had that creative activity after the first wave of Covid.
“What we noticed was there was this palpable sense of joy and energy from people just being together again and lots of people were just sitting there happy hearing the music and having a drink with their friends.”
The Summerhouse will be a breakfast spot by morning, a lunchtime forum stage at noon and a spot to mingle between shows and listen to live music at night.
If you just want to enjoy a drink with a beautiful view of the Torrens, The Summerhouse’s Crescent Bar is open evenings from 5pm (except Mondays). “You don’t need a ticket – everyone is welcome to The Crescent Bar,” says Rachel.
But you WILL need tickets for DZ Deathrays, George Maple, Dami Im and Paul Grabowsky’s jazz trio Torrio! who are among the 16 acts performing at the venue.
Local afrobeat maestros The Shaolin Afronauts will also be playing the soundtrack to movie Mad Max 2, while Melbourne’s The Tarantino’s will perform the soundtrack to 90s movie Pulp Fiction.
“There was just something about the idea of a Tuesday movie night that attracted us, and we did Mad Max last year and it was such a hit,” Rachel says.
“It’s exactly the kind of thing you can picture: yourself under the stars, watching these iconic films with these amazing musicians performing the soundtrack.
“My 16-year-old son went through the program and said ‘I’m going to check these for sure’ and he wasn’t even born when these movies came out.”
Journalist and social commentator David Marr will host the free ‘Festival Forums’, hour-long lunchtime talks with artists who are bringing their talents to the Adelaide Festival.
‘A German Life’ actress Robyn Nevin and The Plastic Bag Store creator Robin Frohardt will be among the talent providing audiences with an exclusive behind-the-scenes insight of their productions during the talks.
David Marr has been attending the Festival since 2017.
“He brings to these forums not just his experience of the performance but his memories of the last four years.”
All the talks will be available as podcasts after each event.
A live stream of opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream will also be shown on the big-screen for a sell-out show on Sunday, February 28.
“I’m really hoping that the diversity of the program will attract audiences from all walks of life and from all over Adelaide,” Rachel says.
“It’s been delicately put together so it doesn’t matter your music taste, you can go through the program and find something for you, personally.
“I’m hoping the experience will be a wonderful reminder about how good it is to be together with our community in Adelaide.”