Festivals are meeting places of artists and theatre makers – a chance to share ideas, inspire one another and find synergies. In 2020 the Adelaide Festival celebrates its 60th Anniversary. Jansson J. Antmann talks to joint Artistic Director Neil Armfield and featured artist Abdul Abdullah about the state of the Arts … and the world.

Neil Armfield. Photograph © Shane Reid

In 2018, the themes of tyranny and displaced peoples permeated the Adelaide Festival. It was perhaps a forewarning of what was to come. With populism and xenophobia re-emerging all around the world, what can we expect in 2020?

Neil Armfield: We are presenting American composer Missy Mazzoli’s opera Breaking the Waves, which is based on Lars von Trier’s 1996 film. Mazzoli has often been referred to as Brooklyn’s Messiaen or Mozart. It’s truly operatic in scale and deals with themes of sex, religious piety, sacrifice and madness. It’s set in 1970’s Scotland. The heroine, Bess, believes her prayers for her husband to leave his job on an oil rig and return to her have resulted in an injury that prevents him from making love to her. She thinks God is punishing her for...

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