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Nicole Corbett bids a fond farewell to the 2007 festival

The Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF) has concluded and sadly, it is time to farewell Artistic Director Lindy Hume who has presided over the 2004 – 2007 Festival cycle. Lindy Hume was the first woman to direct PIAF in its 54-year history, and she and alll of the Festival staff must be congratulated on a wonderful summer of providing a diverse range of arts and culture to Western Australians. The 2007 festival was a resounding success with a growth in audiences of 33% and a record $3.5 million taken at the box office.

The world premiere of the opera The Love of the Nightingale by the acclaimed Australian composer of Batavia, Richard Mills’ was directed by Hume and for me was the highlight of the Festival. I freely admit I am no opera buff but all elements of this work, from the score by Mills, the adaptation by librettist Timberlake Wertenbaker, the set design, lighting and superb performances by Orla Boylan and Emma Matthews had me leaving His Majesty’s on a high and quoting ‘art is good for the soul’.

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Other festival highlights included the locally produced Home, which sold out before the Festival opened. Congratulations to Last Seen Imagining, to the brave director Sophia Hall and last but not least all of those wonderful patrons out there who definitely not Dullsville types and therefore were willing to take the risk of paying $140 and not knowing exactly what their evening’s entertainment would be… Opening their own home to Home for the course of an evening, audiences were entertained and served by six actors whose tales of life and humanity made you hold your breath, wish to shed a tear, and laugh over your wine and dinner.

Sydney’s Company B served up Keating! an absolutely brilliant, seamless, tight and very funny musical cabaret. My host and I were squealing, clapping and shouting ‘Keating, Keating’ at the top of our voices, Keating won our election that’s for sure!

The Western Desert personal theatre piece Ngapartji Ngapartji by Trevor Jamieson was ambitious but Trevor had you laughing one minute and trying not to sob in the next. What a joy it was to hear David Byrne’s ‘Once in A Lifetime’ performed in the dialect of Pitjantjatjara. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie was also truly enjoyable. I think my 10-year-old cousin and I loved it just as much as each other. Small Metal Objects from Melbourne, played by intellectually disabled and non-disabled actors, proved to be a great Forrest Place experience. Of course the Verandah once again had a stellar line up with the mighty Bell Rays delivering some rock and soul and the Kransky Sisters having audiences rolling in the aisles with laughter under the stars – and that’s just to mention a tiny proportion of what was on offer there. Many of the visual art shows are still on for a few weeks. Floribots at PICA, Western Desert Mob: Kutju-One at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery and Imagining Antarctica at Curtin University are worth making some effort to go and see.

Shelagh Magadza, the Perth Festival’s Associate Director for the last four years, has already commenced her tenure as Artistic Director for 2008 – 2011 and we can only look forward to another exciting Festival for 2008.

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