Ten Things You Can't Miss At Brisbane Festival

26 August 2015 | 3:19 pm | Steve Bell

We examine ten productions from Brisbane Festival's wonderfully eclectic 2015 program


The stated aim of this year's Brisbane Festival is to "blow your minds". Steve Bell flicks through the stylistically diverse 2015 program and reckons that they're gonna have a bloody good crack. Cover image by Frank & Mimi

The Brisbane Festival has been an integral part of our city's cultural calendar for nearly two decades now. Kicking off in 1996 (having evolved from the long-running Warana Festival), it was originally a biennial event until 2009 when it merged with River Festival to become an annual celebration of contemporary music, theatre, dance, comedy, opera, circus and also larger public events such as Sunsuper Riverfire. It's about celebrating community and cultural diversity — featuring artists from disparate fields, countries and walks of life — all converging to add their own thread to Brisbane's rich cultural tapestry. 

Stretching over three full weeks in September, the 2015 program involves 70 different productions and over 400 performances held all around our fair city — including the new Fantastical Festival Village, Arcadia, at South Bank's Cultural Forecourt — and covering pretty much every type of artistic expression imaginable. There's literally something for just about everyone at Brisbane Festival, and here are just a few of our highlights from the wonderful 2015 selection:

FLEXN (QPAC, 23-26 Sep)

'Flex' is the globe's hottest new dance form and FLEXN examines civil unrest in the USA following recent controversial rulings in Ferguson and NYC. The politically motivated street dance production uses this post-modern form of expression to get to the crux of these inherently human dilemmas.


A bevy of accomplished artists including Martha Wainwright, Willy Mason, Steve Kilbey (The Church) and guitarist/producer Gary Lucas tackle the music of father-son combination Tim and Jeff Buckley. Both died far too young, leaving behind bodies of gorgeous music that rarely get the live treatment that they so richly deserve.

MEGAN WASHINGTON (The Spiegeltent, 5 & 20 Sep) 

It's been years now since Brisbane's Megan Washington spread her wings and became a national concern. The prodigal singer-songwriter has been on the road plugging her new album There There — co-written with Sia and Adele collaborator Sam Dixon — and returns home to rock the gorgeous environs of The Spiegeltent.

RISE FOR THE OCEANS (QPAC Concert Hall, 5 Sep)

We rarely reflect on the importance of our oceans and reefs and how they're being impinged by our race's expansions. Rise For The Oceans finds novelist Tim Winton teaming with Bernard Fanning, yachtswoman Jessica Watson and marine expert Professor Iain McCalman to enlighten using sound, projections, illuminated sculptures, dazzling light and animated art. 

THE FEMALE GAZE (various locales and dates) 

The Female Gaze is a celebration of female filmmakers. The eclectic showcase is curated by Kiki Fung, who explains that "if the male gaze often objectifies women as desirable creatures or stereotypes, the female gaze positions them as viewers and centres of meaning".

KIASMOS (The Spiegeltent, 25 Sep) 

Icelandic experimental minimalists Kiasmos wowed punters who saw their Brisbane Festival debut in 2013, and since then they've released their eponymous debut album (2014) and the Looped EP (2015) so will undoubtedly have plenty more tricks up their sleeves.

GROSS INDECENCY (Cremorne Theatre QPAC, 13 Sep)

This free reading of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde perfectly augments the Brisbane Festival production of Wilde's seminal The Importance Of Being Earnest. It examines the scandal surrounding Wilde's imprisonment, using trial documents, newspaper accounts and personal letters to tell a story containing many societal implications. 


4ZZZ Flashback charts the history of Australia's first community FM broadcaster 4ZZZ and the role it's played in fostering Brisbane's fertile music scene. Featuring performances from Ed Kuepper, The Ups & Downs, Screamfeeder and Jeremy Neale, plus discussions with special guests.

TREASURY LIGHTS (Treasury Heritage Hotel, 18-26 Sep)

Existing city infrastructure can make an incredible artistic canvas and over nine nights during the festival the facade of The Treasury Hotel will be transformed into a glowing, shimmering work of art, as a team of artists and technicians combine in this celebration of large-scale projection.


Focuses on the conundrum perpetually facing comedians: is it ever okay to make jokes about rape? Set to pop music, Asking For It finds Adrienne Truscott — from infamous New York comics Wau Wau Sisters — dressed only from the waist up and the ankles down as she comedically analyses this taboo topic.