Festival TV: Lieven Bertels Interview

Uploaded by SydneyFestival on 13.12.2012

This being a very young nation, a lot of things that have happened
a couple of times are called a tradition.
I've jokingly said anything that happens twice in this city is called
a tradition and everything that happens five times is an institution.
So we took festival first night into a new direction with Day One,
which is a great new adventure trying to open it up to different audiences
in different parts of the city throughout a whole day of celebration.
We also wanted to reintroduce some artforms that had
been overlooked for a couple of editions including opera
and music drama, and that's one way of reinvigorating
the festival every once in a while.
(Dramatic orchestral music) Semele Walk I think is a real coup
for the Sydney Festival.
To get a show here that was only going to exist once and to convince
the creative team that it had to be recreated for Sydney
and then knowing it involved somebody as crazy as Vivienne Westwood,
the fashion designer.
What it is is a mixture of opera, fashion design and punk.
So it's a really interesting and fascinating mix of old and new
and we're really happy to be able to present it
in the beautiful Town Hall here in Sydney.
One of the things I immediately said was we have
to bring back About An Hour.
It's a great way of discovering a lot of work over the course
of one weekend, the idea being that you can take
a fairly small risk financially- you buy a fixed ticket price, $35 ticket
for a show that will not last much longer than one hour.
You could actually see about 8 works over the span
of one weekend and they range from music to theatre to dance
to visual arts installations.
One of the works in it is actually an Australian work called It's Dark
Outside about an elderly man who basically
starts to lose his memory, and for him reality
is a very different thing than for his surroundings
and so we discover his reality through his eyes.
(Gentle chiming music) There's a couple of what are really beautiful
international and local projects including Symphony
by Legs On The Wall that will have a new look
at Beethoven's 7th Symphony played on an electric guitar.
Or there is a small work called The Moment
I Saw You I Knew I Could Love You about an elderly couple and how
they fell in love, and in that work the audience is invited to sit
in life rafts with people they probably don't even know.
<< I don't know why they affected me like that.
I just couldn't stop looking at them.
One of the things I found really important was to engage with Asia
and to bring a number of works from Asia, so we're having
a Chinese opera, we're having an Indonesian grunge band,
we're having a mainland Chinese visual arts
installation, we're having work from the Middle East, theatre
from Kuwait, a Japanese band Osaka Monaurail,
and all of them actually are very different takes on what we think is Asia.
Of course there's much more that we bring not just from other parts
of the world but also to give local artists the chance to be
on that international stage.
Masi is a real discovery I think from the region.
It's a production by Fijian theatre maker Nina
Nawalowalo and it tells the story of the unlikely meeting of her parents.
Her father was a Fijian tribal chief and her mother was somebody trained
as a nurse in England.
And when Nina's parents died, she started to literally put
all the pieces back together and to work out what that relationship was
and how it started, and she does so in an analogy with Masi.
Masi is a kind of tapa cloth from Fiji and it's a beautiful mixture
of traditional artforms, Fijian dancing and singing.
It's this really beautiful way of telling the story
of her parents falling in love.
Rian is Irish but then again it's not
because it brings together Irish traditional music, folk music,
with an amazing array of performers and contemporary dance
but in a way that actually involves West African elements as well.
It's quite an amazing experience.
Of course we are really thrilled to be back in Parramatta as well.
We're bringing Spiegeltent back.
We're going to have a lovely Spiegeltent with Briefs,
a really fun show.
We're doing Latin circus at Riverside with Urban
by Circolombia and, of course, we're going to start it
all off with an amazing Parramatta opening party.
Urban is probably going to be the hottest show in the festival.
Circolombia is this amazing group of hot Colombian men and women that
started off as street performers and through a charity project actually
got together and were taught some new skills that they could develop
in this amazing show.
One of the acts I really look forward is to is Osaka Monaurail.
They're a soul band from Japan, from Tokyo.
It's just so cool to see these Japanese kids drum
as if it was Harlem in 1967.
One of the beautiful things of coming here and one
of the great traditions that a lot of Australian festivals have
of bringing in a new Director every three
or four years is exactly this.
It's the opportunity to have fresh ideas and a new look
at your festival every once in a while.