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Melbourne Festival 2019 highlights

We’ve gone through the program and picked the most enticing events on offer

Rite of Spring Melbourne Festival 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Yijian Li
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It’s the end of the festival as we know it. Starting next year, Melbourne Festival is moving from its regular October slot to late August and combining with White Night to become a new mammoth winter festival. So director Jonathan Holloway is ensuring this current iteration of Melbourne Festival goes out with a bang, with an epic program of music, theatre, visual arts, dance and cabaret.

We know as well as anybody that it can be a daunting task to sort through a program of this scope, so we’ve picked a selection of our faves. These are the shows we reckon you’ll fall in love with, whether you’re challenged, provoked or just awestruck by their beauty. Plus, there’s a dining experience with a mentalist that we know is just going to blow your mind. What’s not to love?

Melbourne Festival runs Oct 2-20.

For the full program, see www.festival.melbourne – and start planning your night out with our handy guide to Melbourne International Arts Festival Feasts.

2019 highlights

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The Nico Project Melbourne Festival 2019 supplied
Photograph: Jon Shard
Theatre

The Nico Project

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank
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From her early days as a model in the late 1950s, through to her starring roles in cinema in the 1960s and her landmark musical collaboration with the Velvet Underground in 1967, Nico fascinated the world. Now British actor Maxine Peake is stepping into Nico’s shoes for this show that digs into the performer’s dark past.

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TeamLab installation
Photograph: Supplied
Art, Digital and interactive

TeamLab

icon-location-pin Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
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Japan's TeamLab is an art collective whose members include mathematicians, architects, CG animators and engineers. Everything they do is cutting edge but also community-oriented, driven by the latest in technology but a very human need for connection.

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Anthem Melbourne Festival 2019 supplied
Photograph: Pier Carthew
Theatre, Drama

Anthem

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank
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When we talk about landmark moments in Australian playwriting, it’s hard to go past Who’s Afraid of the Working Class, the collaboration between four of our finest writers – Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves and Christos Tsiolkas – and composer Irine Vela. Now they’re reuniting to mark the work’s 20th anniversary at Melbourne Festival with a brand new show.

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Scott Silven
Photograph: Alice Boreas
Theatre

At the Illusionist’s Table

icon-location-pin Alpha60, Melbourne
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It is one thing to watch a magic show, with an illusionist able to deliver clever conjuring from the distance of a stage, the aid of lighting and the possibility of audience plants. But it's a very different matter to have dinner with a 'mentalist' and illusionist and experience the magic at close quarters.

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Grand Finale // Hofesh Shechter
Rahi Rezvani
Dance

Grand Finale

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank
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Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter makes some of the most distinctively vibrant dance anywhere in the world. In 2016 he was nominated for a Tony Award for choreographing a brilliant new Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, but he’s best known for the shows he creates with his own company.

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roots / 1927 Melbourne Festival 2019 supplied
Photograph Leigh Webber
Theatre

Roots

icon-location-pin Malthouse Theatre, Southbank
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English theatre company 1927 has a signature style that’s seen it embark on massively successful tours around the world. Combining handmade animations with live performance, they create extraordinary onstage worlds, and are perhaps best known for creating Barrie Kosky’s celebrated production of The Magic Flute.

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Diaspora Melbourne Festival 2019 supplied
Photograph: Pier Carthew
Music

Diaspora

icon-location-pin The Substation, Newport
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Australia’s master of spectacular, large-scale laser installations, Robin Fox is joining with Melbourne performance company Chamber Made for this new Melbourne Festival show. He’s promising projections, illusions and “sense-defying lasers” in this bold and futuristic melding of art, music, performance and design.

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Colossus Arts Centre Melbourne 2018
Photograph: Mark Gambino
Dance

Colossus

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank
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Stephanie Lake’s Colossus will unleash that power, mould it and bunch it, and throw it around the space, in ways that are thrilling and frightening and entirely unforgettable. This is a show the world deserves to see.

Time Out says
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Token Armies Melbourne Festival 2019 supplied
Photograph: Dian McLeod
Dance

Token Armies

icon-location-pin Meat Market, North Melbourne
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Melbourne’s Chunky Move has a massive reputation in the contemporary dance world, forged first by its founding director Gideon Obarzanek and then its latest director Anouk Van Dijk. Now Antony Hamilton is taking over the reins of the company, and will premiere his first work as artistic director at this year’s Melbourne Festival. 

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Joan as Police Woman 2019 Melbourne Festival supplied
Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein
Music

Joan As Police Woman

icon-location-pin Melbourne Recital Centre, Southbank
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American singer-songwriter Joan Wasser has been a force in music ever since she joined the Dambuilders as a violinist in the early 1990s. Since then she’s played with Black Beetle, Antony and the Johnsons and Those Bastard Souls, and since 2004 she’s been going solo under the stage name Joan As Police Woman.

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