Angels floating through the night sky. Three generations of famous Indian musicians. Refugee activists debating global challenges. Indie music and the opportunity to taste the flavours of the world. That’s WOMADelaide – “the world’s festival”. Diverse, thought provoking and a joyful celebration of the human spirit.
This worldwide phenomenon rolls into Adelaide from 9 to 12 March, delivering a feast for the senses. For the first time the festival is occupying a newly expanded site, designed to accommodate a number of large-scale landmark productions. One of these is France’s Gratte Ciel which is presenting the extraordinary “Place des Anges” (Place of Angels) – a breathtaking aerial ballet that unfolds 40 metres above the crowd. The sheer scale of The Manganiyar Seduction also has to be seen to be believed, with 40 musicians seated in spectacular, multi-levelled ‘jewel box’.
The popular Planet Talks focus on a range of global issues including the environment and sustainability. The impressive line up of human rights advocates, environmentalists, anthropologists and academics appearing on the bill, will include Australia’s Tim Flannery, Tim Costello, Julian Burnside AO QC and journalist Peter Greste.
While some 45 per cent of the audience comes from interstate, the over 600 performers are drawn from the four corners of the planet – including Ghana, Mongolia, Zanzibar, Syria, Papua New Guinea, Cuba, Iran, Iceland and Bulgaria.
The challenge of getting the performers to Adelaide from far-flung destinations has been entrusted to Stage and Screen’s Marc Peacock. Even after four years of arranging travel for WOMADelaide, Marc says there is always something new to learn.
Possibly this year’s biggest challenge was organising flights for the 49 members of The Manganiyar Seduction. In keeping with traditional Indian naming conventions, surnames are often caste names with millions of people sharing the same name. So imagine the detail involved in booking tickets for 49 travellers who between them all shared just three different surnames. To add to the confusion some musicians also had the same first name and others had two first names and no surname. This created a ticketing nightmare as airline reservation systems require a surname. “In fact the airline was convinced I had booked tickets for the same people twice,” said Marc. “However after many, many phone calls and a lot of explaining, tickets were finally issued.”
With around 95,000 attendances expected over the weekend, this truly unique festival is a must do in South Australia.