Here’s what awaits you for the OzAsia Festival 2022

After COVID-19 restrictions curtailed her first two programs for Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia festival, Artistic Director Annette Shun Wah has reason to be excited about the 2022 lineup unveiled today.

As well as bringing a number of international artists to Adelaide for the festival from October 20 to November 6 – including New York-based Singaporean pianist Margaret Leng Tan and Korean alternative K-pop group Leenalchi – she has also managed to reschedule several shows that were scheduled to be canceled just a month away from last year’s event due to interstate border closures.

Among these is action star, a world premiere of solo theater from Australian-Vietnamese actress and martial arts performer Maria Tran, who has forged a successful career in martial arts films in Asia. The show – fueled by stunt work and live martial arts – shares Tran’s story, including her struggle against gender stereotypes and racism.

“What’s interesting is that we’ve always talked about the fact that in Australia her talent has largely gone unappreciated and it’s really quite ironic that she left Australia and moved to the United States at the end of last year, but after only six months or so she came back because she was chosen for this new series filmed in Sydney, ”said Shun Wah, referring to the new TV crime drama serial. Last King of the Cross.

Action star Maria Tran. Photo: Anna Kucera

Are also rescheduled from 2021 The long walka dance performance honoring the Chinese gold miners who walked from Robe to Victorian-era gold mines in the 1850s (the work will be broadcast via real-time drone recording from Robe), and The demona play by Michael Mohammed Ahmad, author of the novel selected by Miles Franklin in 2019 The Lebs.

The demon It is said to combine contemporary Australian crime thriller and magical realism with a Lynchian twist. Shun Wah explains that it centers on two detectives trying to track down a suspected killer. The woman – a Chinese-Australian street fighter – lures them to Burrangong, scene of the Lambing Flat Riots of 1860-1861 in New South Wales targeting Chinese gold miners.

“It asks if something ugly and unresolved in our history is causing the ongoing friction we have today… it’s work that’s done with a stellar cast of theater makers. It’s really physical theatre, with lots of dark atmospheres, mystery and action as well.

Shun Wah is particularly excited about this year’s music lineup for OzAsia, one of the highlights of which will be Bridge of Dreams – a collaboration between Australian and Indian musicians led by saxophonist Sandy Evans. It will see 22 musicians take the stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre, including the 17-member ‘super-collective’ Sirens Big Band, Indian singer Shubha Mudgal and tabla player Aneesh Pradhan.

Margaret Leng Tan, known as a toy piano virtuoso and last seen in Adelaide at OzAsia Festival 2016, performs her music and storytelling show Dragon ladies don’t cry at the Dunstan Playhouse, while the contemporary music lineup is headlined by a night of “alt-pop, funk and rap” at the Convention Center with Korea’s Leenalchi (seen below in a national tourism ad) and AAustralian-Korean hip-hop group 1300.

“They’re this intriguing blend of contemporary pop and funk with pansori,” Shun Wah says of Leenalchi, explaining that pansori is a traditional form of Korean music. “It’s this really deeply emotional vocalization, so hearing that in the context of contemporary funk-pop music is a really interesting combination.”

As well as the popular Moon Lantern Trail, which will return over four days on OzAsia’s opening weekend, there are a number of other family-friendly offerings on the festival schedule. These include a free outdoor event The Angkor Wat Rat Trap – a large-scale musical theater and puppet event based loosely on the Pied Piper of Hamelin story but set in the year 2222 and featuring psychic rockers The Cambodian Space Project.

Korean company GRUEJARM Productions will make its Australian premiere with the touring show INSTANTANEOUS, will be presented at Her Majesty’s Theater for four performances during the opening weekend of the festival.

“It’s a very theatrical show with magic and illusion,” Shun Wah says of INSTANTANEOUS, which also includes mime and clowning. “It’s going to be great for families…it’s presented in a very theatrical setting with music, lighting and costumes. It transports you to this magical world.

INSTANTANEOUS offers mime, magic and comedy. Photo: Tae Won Kim

In total, the OzAsia 2022 festival will offer around fifty free and paid events and exhibitions, including the return of The Comedy Special Comedy line-up of Asian-Australian actors, three exhibitions in the foyers of the Festival Theater of the Festival Center on the theme “Women at Work” (in response to 9 to 5 The Musicalplaying in the theater at the same time), and the family comedy previously announced by State Theater Company SA Single Asian Woman (by playwright Michelle Law).

Family is also at the heart of journalist Jane Hutcheon’s show Lost in Shanghai, which began with her journey to reconstruct the story of her mother Beatrice’s youth in a Eurasian family in pre-Communist China – elements Beatrice had never spoken of. Shun Wah describes it as a storytelling theatrical spectacle, developed with co-directors Tasnim Hossain and William Yang and featuring “a huge treasure trove of photographs”.

“It’s a really fascinating look at this world of pre-Communist China, with all the photographs but all the mysteries about what happened to her mother, who was quite young when her mother, Jane’s grandmother, is dead.”

Jane Hutcheon presents Lost in Shanghai. Photo: Claire Hawley

OzAsia’s writing and ideas program will take place on the final weekend of the festival, with writer, comedian and “foodie” Jennifer Wong as curator. Its full schedule won’t be released until next month, but we do know that the popular Lunch by the river will return – this time with the author from Adelaide (and Review contributor) Katherine Tamiko Arguile, whose culinary memoir Mechi was released earlier this year.

The OzAsia Festival 2022 will take place from October 20 to November 6.

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