The Perth Festival returns in 2022 with events celebrating ocean themes

The Perth Festival 2022 will celebrate the Wardan (Ocean) theme this summer through dockside getaways in Fremantle and sand dances at City Beach, oceanic orchestral concerts and surf the swell of contemporary music, theater thrilling and a magical lighthouse backdrop to captivate the young at heart.

Following the success of the all-Australian Bilya (River)-themed 2021 program, the Festival is venturing further into 2022 with world premieres, new local commissions and works arriving in Perth for the first time.

The Festival opens on February 11 and 12 with the anarchic tour of Escape. This massive, free-to-play, multi-site family adventure is inspired by Catalpa’s legendary convict escape and is created by the team behind the 2017 and 2019 blockbuster opening event Boorna Waanginy.

Escape celebrates the diverse stories, travels, cultures and experiences of life on the West Coast. Over the course of two unforgettable nights, the docks, warehouses, waterfront and streets of Fremantle will be transformed into a vast arena of breathtaking light installations, music, dancing, mass community events, parties and of a mad reenactment of Catalpa – by a troop of strange cyclists.

To close the festival on the long weekend in March, Perry Lakes will be illuminated by the immersive and multisensory futurism of Noongar Wonderland. This vibrant expression of Noongar culture takes place in circles of technicolor lighting, dance and song between the two lakes and is co-created by many artists behind the recent successes of the Hecate Festival and Fist of Fury Noongar Daa.

From the beginning to the end of the three weeks of the Festival, the artists will summon new worlds and new atmospheres through events of music, dance, theater, visual arts, cinema and writing.

Perth Festival Artistic Director Iain Grandage notes, “ This is a festival to immerse yourself in. We are delighted that it includes many new commands that promise to cross horizons and travel the world.

“In our city between the desert and the sea, we are pierced by the ocean and the wonderful worlds of the west. Join us in celebrating the many faces of the ocean as part of the Perth Festival 2022. The program is designed to be as vast as this broad western horizon and as purifying as the sea.

Native-directed works include Yirra Yaakin’s joyful world premiere of David Milroy’s 1960s-inspired animated musical Panawathi Girl at His Majesty’s Theater, the Black Swan State Theater Company and Sydney Theater Company co-production from Meyne Wyatt’s acclaimed play City of Gold and Daddy’s Candy-Coated Sensation Pill, from dancer Joel Bray.

The historic Mary Stuart theater event will bring one of history’s greatest rivalries to life; The royal battle of Elizabeth I with Mary, Queen of Scots. Acclaimed WA playwright Kate Mulvany adapted Schiller’s epic tale into a lavish costume drama with an outstanding WA cast led by colossal acting talents Kate Walsh as Elizabeth and Caroline Brazier as by Mary at the Heath Ledger Theater.

Theater lovers will also be blown away by the captivating survival tale JALI by charismatic Rwandan-born comedian Oliver Twist. Kim Crotty’s The Smallest Stage world premiere beautifully reveals how an imprisoned father uses stories as a bridge to connect with his children – and invites parents to share the stage with their own children ages 9-12. Participation also draws audiences into Body of Knowledge, an intimate intergenerational look at Samara Hersch’s body, age and change with the WA Youth Theater Company.

The sensational Patch’s Lighthouse family-friendly show will delight audiences of all ages as it embarks on an exciting journey of discovery through a series of connected venues and theaters in the heart of the UWA campus, each bursting with performance and hands-on experiences of light and its magic effects.

Emerging from the darkness of the theater and an expanse of undulating black silk, dancers and musicians will reveal the breathtaking beauty of Rachel Arianne Ogle’s deeply ritualized And The Earth Will Swallow Them Whole. Other dance highlights include The Ninth Wave, an apocalyptic dance party at the end of the world, with The Farm and Co3 Contemporary Dance rocking the sands of City Beach to an original score by Ben Ely from Regurgitator. And WA Ballet is celebrating its 70th anniversary nearby at Quarry Amphitheater, bringing together life, love, lust and loss for another glorious year of Ballet’s career.

A strong contemporary music program makes a welcome return for 2022 to reveal exciting new possibilities in unusual spaces across the city. These include Songs to Experience by WA-based international drummer Ta-Ku, a piece-by-piece journey through his new album inside the former women’s club Karrakatta Club, a takeover of the European Foods warehouse. in Northbridge, the return of WA Mixtape from RTRFM and highly anticipated concerts from Pond, Methyl Ethyl and Stella Donnelly. Even more goodies will be revealed in January.

Contemporary and classical music go hand in hand when Katie Noonan joins string musicians for an evening of chamber music and singing at the Art Gallery of WA. Music lovers will also be energized by powerful oceanic motifs in Sea Pictures, when Australia’s most acclaimed soprano Emma Matthews shares the stage with WA’s top chamber musicians under the museum’s famous Blue Whale. At the Perth Concert Hall, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and the Western Australian Youth Orchestra have teamed up to present the Australian premiere of John Luther Adams’ monumental Become Ocean alongside a new work commissioned from local composer Olivia Davies. In Rockingham and Yanchep, the Perth Symphony Orchestra gives free concerts in Coastal Parks, presented by the towns of Rockingham and Wanneroo. On an even grander scale, the contemporary WACA Ground Coliseum will be transformed in southern Spain as Perth Nights set the stage for Bizet’s magnificent Carmen to be performed by more than 150 opera singers and musicians. from Western Australia, WAO Chorus, WAO Children’s Choir and WASO.

The Perth Festival 2022 also embraces the outdoor lifestyle as the ever-popular Lotterywest Films returns under the stars and pines of UWA Somerville to showcase the world’s best films starting November 22. Highlights include Cannes Film Festival winners Memoria, Murina and the opening night romantic comedy The Worst Person in the World, as well as the world premiere of Renée Webster’s How To Please A Woman.

The Literature and Ideas program returns to inspire, entertain and challenge for two weekends. Sisonke Msimang hosts a mix of conversations, panels, and storytelling in A Day of Ideas: At Sea at the Subiaco Arts Center on February 19. Over the following Writers’ Weekend February 26-27, Gillian O’Shaughnessy brings Family Day back for kids to experience the magic of literature in the lush gardens of the Fremantle Arts Center. In this peaceful setting, the turbulence of the human heart is navigated with such esteemed storytellers as Lisa Taddeo, Helen Garner, Michael Robotham, Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse, Hannah Kent and many more to be announced on January 20.

Wardan, the ocean, also engulfs the imaginations of visual artists as a reservoir of metaphors and dreams in city galleries. Major exhibits include acclaimed British film and installation artist Isaac Julien at the John Curtin Gallery, the dynamic group show Undertow at the Fremantle Arts Center, the epic majesty of artist Kimberley Sonia Kurarra at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery , the dreamy underwater landscapes of Tarryn Gill, Benjamin Barretto and Nemo Gandossini-Poirier in The Sunset Lounge inside the Alex Hotel and Shadow Wine Bar, and the dance video installation by Amrita Hepi Monumental at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. The whole family can enjoy a day of workshops, food, dancing and storytelling as part of AGWA’s Ever Present: First People’s Art of Australia.

As always, the Connect program is growing stronger, playing its role as a vital bridge between Festival artists, the local arts sector and the community at large. This year the festival will expand across the city and across Western Australia with the new Touring WA program featuring shows and workshops in Bunbury, Albany and Karratha.

The Perth Festival runs from February 11 to March 6, 2022.
Lotterywest Films runs from November 22, 2021 to April 3, 2022.
Tickets will go on sale to Friends of the Festival at 12:00 p.m. WST on Monday, November 15 and to the general public at 9:00 a.m. WST on Monday, November 22.
For reservations and more information, go to

Top of the picture: Emerging from the darkness of the theater and an expanse of rippling black silk, dancers and musicians will reveal the stunning beauty of Rachel Arianne Ogle’s deeply ritualized film And The Earth Will Swallow Them All Credit Peter Cheng Acid Flix; image center: Perth Festival 2022 Panawathi Girl Credit Daniel Carson; image above: Perth Festival Dreams of Place Credit WASO

Related Articles

February 15, 2021 – Perth Festival opens today to celebrate a rich diversity of communities

February 5, 2021 – The Perth Festival will delay the start of the 2021 program by two weeks

January 27, 2021 – Perth Festival Welcomes Julia Holt as New Programming Director

September 28, 2020 – Kung Fu classic adopts Noongar style to open Perth Festival 2021

June 3, 2020 – 2020 impact report confirms the public value of the Perth Festival

March 18, 2020 – Perth Festival supports Live Performance Australia’s call for immediate economic recovery

November 3, 2019 – The Perth Festival unveils its 2020 program

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February 3, 2019 – The Perth Festival to offer a number of world premieres

January 1, 2019 – Perth festival-goers will be offered STI testing on site

June 11, 2018 – Perth Festival has an impact on Western Australia

March 14, 2018 – 450,000 people share their experiences at the Perth Festival 2018

November 11, 2015 – The State Theater Center of WA will be the focal point of the Perth Festival 2016

March 12, 2015 – 1.65 million people enjoy the events of the Perth Festival 2015

November 11, 2014 – Indigenous actors to present a major ANZAC production at the Perth Festival 2015

March 10, 2011 – Perth Festival’s farewell to artistic director Shelagh Magadza

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