The Australian premiere of Destinations by acclaimed Taiwanese-Australian pianist Belle Chen is one of three shows providing a sneak peek at Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival 2021.

At the forefront of UK new wave classical music, Chen is as uncategorisable as her music is captivating. Her compositions retain the beauty of classical piano while traversing avant-garde and electronica to embody the world’s natural wonders.

Using electric keys, synthesizers and visual installations, Destinations will see Chen’s arrangements brought to life in vivid colour at Her Majesty’s Theatre on October 21.

Tickets are also on sale today for Adelaide exclusive The Special Comedy Comedy Special featuring an exciting line-up of Asian Australian comedians including host Jennifer Wong (from ABC’s Chopsticks or Fork?) and Adelaide’s own Jason Chong, along with Suren Jayemanne, Triple J Drive host Michael Hing and TV personalities Lawrence Leung (Offspring, Maximum Choppage), Alex Lee (The Feed) and Nina Oyama (Utopia).

Rounding out the early release is the Adelaide premiere of Sydney Theatre Company’s White Pearl. Written by Thai-Australian playwright Anchuli Felicia King, the play is a blisteringly funny satire about a skincare company whose new TV commercial goes viral for all the wrong reasons.

With the rest of the program to be revealed in August, this will be the first full-scale OzAsia Festival under the leadership of new Artistic Director Annette Shun Wah:

“For OzAsia Festival 2021, we are thrilled to be presenting the most significant showcase of contemporary Asian Australian artists that’s ever been seen before. We have so many world-class performers right here in Australia, and these first few shows that we’re announcing today are just the tip of an iceberg that includes world premieres and collaborations featuring some of Australia’s most respected artists alongside exciting new voices.”

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM: “We can’t wait to share the full program for this year’s OzAsia Festival, and this early release is just a taste of what audiences can expect. In addition to theatre, music and comedy, we’ll have a wonderful selection of dance, film, visual art and community events – all providing unique interpretations of the cultural engagement between Australia and Asia.”

In another exciting development, OzAsia Festival 2021 will present In Other Words – a new writing and ideas program featuring a range of talks, workshops and performances from November 5 to 7.

In Other Words will bring together some of Asia and Australia’s most inspiring contemporary writers as they engage in vital conversations about their past, present and future.

Led by former Adelaide Writers’ Week director Laura Kroetsch, the program boasts acclaimed authors Benjamin Law and Roanna Gonsalves as guest curators.

In Other Words Program Curator Laura Kroetsch: “The thing I have most enjoyed about reading and thinking about this event is that it has given me a chance to experience a sensibility not my own. I have so thoroughly enjoyed travelling around Australia and the Asia-Pacific through stories. The experience has been utterly enlightening.”

Guest Curator Benjamin Law: “OzAsia Festival is a brilliant celebration of Asian Australian culture and a community whose presence here pre-dates white arrival. It’s also a brilliant opportunity to take stock of Australia's place in the Asia-Pacific and have some of the most urgent conversations about our shared futures.”

Guest Curator Roanna Gonsalves: "Everybody needs good neighbours. But what if the neighbours are also family, united and divided by two continents, two oceans and one big virus? In Other Words brings together the world's most exciting contemporary writers who live and love in Asia and Australia as they engage in vital conversations about the churn of our histories, our present longings and our interdependent futures."

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A media kit including high-resolution images and artist biographies can be found here.

Music | Taiwan/Australia | Australian Premiere | Her Majesty’s Theatre, October 21

At the forefront of UK new wave classical music, Belle Chen is as uncategorisable as her music is captivating. An associate of the Royal Academy of Music, Chen’s compositions retain the beauty of classical piano while simultaneously traversing avant-garde and electronica to embody the world’s changing natural wonders. Featuring stunning piano and immersive visuals, this incomparable musician takes audiences from tropical jungles, to shifting coastlines, to coral reefs. A celebration of our planet in all its splendour, see the stage transformed through an enthralling synergy of music and sound art for this exclusive Adelaide performance.

The Special Comedy Comedy Special
Comedy | Australia | Adelaide Exclusive | Her Majesty’s Theatre, October 30

This comedy special is so special that it's on one night only at Her Majesty's Theatre, featuring some of Australia's most hilarious comedians. Promising an evening so funny we had to say it twice, The Special Comedy Comedy Special brings together the biggest showcase of Asian Australian stand-up ever assembled on one stage in the country. Hosted by the incomparable Jennifer Wong, delight in this handpicked line-up of some of the brightest superstars of Australian TV and festival circuit. Along with live music from cosmic/no-wave outfit Dragonfruit, revel in a night of comedic excellence for what officially promises to be the best night ever (they told us to say that part).

Featuring Alex Lee, Jason Chong, Jennifer Wong, Lawrence Leung, Michael Hing, Nina Oyama and Suren Jayemanne. Music by Colin Ho & Yvonne C Lam as Dragonfruit.

White Pearl
Theatre | Australia | Adelaide Premiere | Dunstan Playhouse, October 20-23

A “blisteringly funny satire” (Time Out) by one of Australia’s most exciting young playwrights, White Pearl returns after its sold-out 2019 Australian premiere with The National Theatre of Parramatta and acclaimed productions in London and Washington D.C.

Things are heating up in the oh-so-cool Singapore headquarters of Clearday™, an upstart player in the Asian skincare game. Sales of their new range – ‘White Pearl’ skin-whitening cream – are going through the roof, and the ambitious team of young women have their eyes to the sky. That is, until their new TV commercial is leaked online and starts going viral for all the wrong reasons. As the views climb, the mood in the office nosedives and the team scrambles to contain the fallout and save more than just their jobs in the process.

With a shrewd eye, acerbic wit and machine gun dialogue, Anchuli Felicia King deftly unravels toxic corporate culture, the complexity of Pan-Asian relations and racism in a wildly entertaining, gasp-inducing night at the theatre. 

In Other Words
Writing & Ideas | Australian Premiere | Adelaide Riverbank Lawns, November 5-7

OzAsia Festival’s In Other Words is a free program of writing and ideas, putting the spotlight on the urgent conversations we need to have. Leading thinkers and writers from Australia and Asia will gather for the final three days of OzAsia Festival in a provocative and illuminating program that aims to bring balanced, informed and insightful discussion.