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Q&A with Darwin Festival's Felix Preval

The countdown is on until Darwin Festival strings up the fairy lights and rolls out three weeks of dazzling entertainment. 

This year’s program is as hot as ever with thought- provoking theatre, side-splitting comedy and music to boogie to. There are shows celebrating 40 years of self-governance plus a huge opening weekend of Indigenous art and music. The festivities aren’t limited to Festival Park, with the return of The Aurora Spiegletent taking over part of The Esplanade with its own pop-up bar and food by Darwin favourite, Little Miss Korea.

Artistic Director Felix Preval sat down with Off The Leash to tell us more.

Tell us about some of the themes behind this year’s program.
One that rises to the surface is unearthing forgotten histories. We explore forgotten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories with fantastic projects like Buried Country, our wonderful opening night concert, and in Jessie Lloyd’s beautiful Mission Songs Project – 1957 Palm Island Strike.

Territory histories get turned over in theatre works like Letters To Lindy and in our Words and Ideas program.

It’s a really diverse program, and one full of surprises.

We love to get people thinking and talking, but mostly we want to give people great reasons to come together and make the most of the beautiful month of August.

How is Darwin Festival celebrating the NT’s big 4-0?
We’ve got three fantastic works celebrating 40 years of self-governance, including Congress by All The Queens Men – a beautiful project where eight local citizens are paired with eight local wordsmiths to present a series of imagined first speeches in Parliament exploring the politics of identity and place.

We also have a large-scale projection work made my local artist Naina Sen called Face To Face, a video portrait work of 40 Darwin faces.

We also have a large-scale installation called Pivot, which sees three semi-intelligent seesaws installed in Festival Park that you can ride on and talk to – talking to a seesaw is a pretty surreal thing to do, and they’re programmed to be quite philosophical, so we hope people will come to Festival Park ready to ask big questions to our big colourful seesaws.

The Aurora Spiegeltent is back –  tell us what’s new this year? 
The Spiegeltent will have a new home on The Esplanade, but this year there will be a pop-up bar and food by Little Miss Korea.

This year’s show LIMBO is my personal favourite work by Strut & Fret Production House.

It’s really theatrically rich, has a wild live music score and an incredible front man and cast, including phenomenal Heather Hol-liday who is a sword swallower, fire breather and contortionist. 

It will blow your mind.

Top three shows not to be missed?
RPM vs Bad Apples.  
Mish Grigor’s, The Talk.  
Helen Gillet.
 
You’ve been involved with DFest since 2016 and are at the helm until 2020, what are your visions for the future?
We’re looking at a range of exciting projects for 2019 and 2020, which will see more local participation and more avenues for access for all members of society – and two more phenomenal Festivals, of course!
 
DARWIN FESTIVAL | AUGUST 9 - 26 | darwinfestival.org.au
 
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