The Festival That Was. "Adelaide Festival". [review]
Bramwell, Murray Ross
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It has been said that the 2002 "Adelaide Festival" has been misunderstood, that it was too innovative and far-sighted to be fully comprehended. That its impact will not be realised for years, say some. For a decade, says the former Director. It has been reported that many valuable cultural interchanges took place - in the "Intertwine" project and during other cultural residencies. Among the scheduled performances, "Black Swan’s" "The Career Highlights of Mamu" presented a complex and sometimes rickety mix of oral history, theatre and traditional dance. In "Skin" "Bangarra Dance Company" contrasted an aestheticised tableau of traditional women’s culture with the contemporary trauma of deaths in custody, alcohol addiction and alienation among Aboriginal men. In "Bone Flute", "MAU Dance" directed by Lemi Ponifasio, brought together, ponderously and unsuccessfully, elements of Japanese butoh with Polynesian rituals and traditions. It was obvious that attendances everywhere were thin. The excellent "Shedding Light" program of commissioned films had nearly full houses for "The Tracker" and the controversial "Australian Rules" - although there were only three screenings in each case - but the premiere for Ivan Sen’s superbly understated "Beneath Clouds" was scandalously under-attended, as was the first night of Tony Ayres’ "Walking on Water". Similarly the expanse of empty seats at the latter performances of "El Nino" was an eerie sight. The additional program added by Sue Nattrass at the behest of the Festival board seems never to have grafted on to the original framework of Peter Sellars’ plan. The Barbara Cook ticket prices were steep and the other solo shows - BJ Ward, Patrick Dickson’s Via Dolorosa, Max Gillies and the dance works by Ros Warby and Helen Herbertson, while individually creditable, seemed forlorn and disconnected.