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BY Mary Thompson - tspublicity.com.au | 26-Jun-2013
TICKETS ON SALE 9AM THURSDAY 27 JUNE. The pinnacle of the Northern Territory’s dry season, Darwin Festival, returns from 8 - 25 August with a program set to excite, tantalise and intrigue. With Artistic Director Edwina Lunn returning for her second year at the helm, audiences can expect a program brimming with offerings that explore what it is that makes up - This Territory Life.
Date: Thursday 8 - Sunday 25 August 2013
Web: darwinfestival.org.au
Call: (08) 8943 4222

"I have lived in Darwin and worked with Darwin Festival for four years, and it has been a privilege to observe what it is that makes this city and region of Australia so unique," says Lunn. "This year, our Festival program pays tribute to the extreme diversity of a 'Territory Life' and rejoices in what makes Darwin such an extraordinary place - a giddy hybrid of rustic charm and tropical sophistication."

The 2013 Darwin Festival returns across two precincts with shows at both well-loved Festival Park and George's Green where audiences will enjoy outdoor entertainment amongst the plethora of superb eateries that have become synonymous with the Darwin Festival experience.

With a special section of the program dedicated to a focus on Indonesia, the Festival is proud to present Australian premieres of Papermoon Puppetry's Mwathirika and an evening of hipster tunes with Jakarta's White Shoes & The Couples Company, a band who sport a stylin' name to match their super hip sound.

The program also includes world premieres of a collaboration between Darwin Symphony Orchestra and local indie rockers Green Stone Garden; Tracks Dance Company's Zombies in the Banyan Tree; and hip hop lady MC Candy B's saucy as ever Hot Brown Honey Burlesque. Dance lovers will be thrilled to welcome the NT premiere of Shaun Parker & Company's colourful dance mash-up Happy As Larry and for another Territory first, welcome gypsy troubadour extraordinaire Martin Martini who brings his musical madness to The Lighthouse.

Darwin Festival is proud to announce the inclusion of high profile internationals such as New York's cabaret wunderkind Taylor Mac; the UK's ever-risqué country music singer-cum-comedian Tina C; Ireland's energetically wacky ponydance at Throb nightclub; and the hugely popular Gala Dinner returns with visiting chef, Janet de Neefe (Founder/Director, Ubud Writers & Readers Festival) sharing culinary duties with local heroes Jimmy Shu and Danny Yuem.

"I'm always reluctant to choose highlights because I'm attached to every show," says Lunn. "But we are particularly excited about some of the special events we are presenting in the Amphitheatre this year including Archie Roach's Into the Bloodstream, which closes the Festival. We also have some wonderful local artists collaborating with international acts and as always I love presenting festival favourites such as the Santos Opening Night Concert, Pesona Indonesia and People's Choice Teddy Bear's Picnic, real community events that engage our locals."

The music program features a range of acts including The Ape, a new incarnation for Tex Perkins, one of Darwin's best-loved frontman; Mia Dyson, Jen Cloher and Liz Stringer, three magnificent women performing together; swaggering storyteller Wagons and Darwin's International Songwriting Competition winner, David Garnham and the Reasons to Live, among others.

Renowned children's book illustrator Shaun Tan (The Lost Thing) and composer Ben Walsh will bring to life Tan's graphic novel The Arrival with a tapestry of live instruments and projections in The Amphitheatre; locals Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley draw playful live illustrations to launch their book Too Many Cheeky Dogs, and the Darwin Waterfront is transformed by Polytoxic's mesmerising technicolour world of Trade Winds, a free walking-on-water spectacular that will bring an extra special sparkle to an already luminous Darwin sunset moment.

Special event highlights include three hours of inspiring music from emerging acts and established performers as the sun goes down at the Santos Opening Concert; guided tours by children in The Walking Neighbourhood as part of the Bagot Festival, a true local event that celebrates one of Darwin's most colourful communities and incorporates the creation of a Rainbow Serpent by local primary students in collaboration with Sydney-based visual theatre company Erth and Larrakia artist Anthony Duwun Lee.

This year also sees the return of Trevor Ashley (Liza on an E) with his remarkable Darwin Symphony Orchestra collaboration featuring Shirley Bassey hits in Diamonds are for Trevor; a stellar line-up of artists, educators, scientists, and other smarty-pants experts delving deep into life in the secrets of the NT for the This Territory Life series; and Darwin's own 'choose your own adventure mani-pedi', Talon Salon. And, let's not forget the revival of the Nightcliff Pool Closing Party to wrap the Festival with a splash.

Up in theatre lights, Ilbijerri Theatre presents an Australian legend, elder and activist in Jack Charles V The Crown; a punchy, real-deal theatre venture on the subject of boxing in Roslyn Oades' I'm Your Man; the psychedelic, cross-cultural dance-theatre DasSHOKU SHAKE! from Yumi Umiumare and Japan's legendary Theatre Group GUMBO; and of course Mozart's Don Giovanni, presented in all its glamour and luxury, by Opera Australia.

To round out the 2013 program, the Festival presents the sharpest comedy line up to hit Darwin, with the subversive Fear of a Brown Planet boys; a two-night-only extravaganza from leading funny woman Julia Morris, the spectacular wit of double-act Denise Scott and Judith Lucy, and Kate McLennan and Wes Snelling's Standard Double, which is performed entirely in a Darwin hotel room to only 20 people at a time.

"From local Indigenous stories to cabaret fanfare and a rich tapestry of works from influential neighbours both nearby and over the seas to Indonesia, what we hope is that this Festival reflects the sensibilities of our contrasting inhabitants," says Lunn. "Those that were born here, brought here, landed here or wandered here."

With a whopping 85 events over 18 days, Lunn and her team have created a program that is committed to entertaining, challenging and engaging audiences. This year's Festival is rich with the most diverse program of music, theatre, comedy, opera, dance, visual arts and family activities that could be mustered. It brings to life charming yarns from across Australia, international stars from Asia and beyond, and most of all 'This Territory Life' explores vital stories from the Territory's cultural heart.

"Here at Darwin Festival we aim to capture the imaginations of all walks of life, while presenting a program that is unique on both a national and international scale," says Lunn. "We can't wait for you to experience all that we have collected and brought here, to ensure that August is once again the best time to be in Darwin."