2019 Bleach* Program heralds new era

The Farm - Bleach* 2019Bleach* cements itself as The Gold Coast Festival in 2019 with a program that promises to be the premier arts and cultural event’s most captivating yet.


The eighth annual festival runs from April 17-28 and heralds a new era for the Gold Coast while celebrating its unique rituals and culture with a jam-packed program that spans large-scale opera, award-winning dance, eye-popping cabaret, free live music, a thought- provoking political swimming carnival and a thrilling drive-in with a difference.


Over 12 days, the Gold Coast’s beaches, waterways, parklands and civic gathering places become playgrounds for contemporary performance and installation with Bleach* Artistic Director and CEO Louise Bezzina calling on everyone to come and play.


“2019’s Bleach* Festival signals a new chapter for the city, taking place one year after the historic staging of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games,” Bezzina said. “The Gold Coast has experienced a cultural revolution over the past few years with Bleach* at the helm and, as the Gold Coast continues to evolve, so too does Bleach*.


“In 2019, we’ll turn the city on with a program of incredible arts experiences that will inspire and invigorate citizens and visitors to the Gold Coast,” Bezzina added.


Bleach* presents its largest event to date in 2019 with 28 unique productions and 132 performances, including four world premieres and three Queensland premieres, headlined by its centrepiece event, Verdi’s Requiem, on April 27. The blockbuster music concert, directed by Opera Queensland Artistic Director Patrick Nolan and featuring more than 150 musicians and singers, is performed under the stars, with HOTA’s outdoor stage transformed into a fiery ceremonial sanctuary.


“Verdi’s score is all-consuming and is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed so this will be a very special, one-off concert for the city,” Bezzina said. “Requiem has soaring voices, the might and force of Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, a spectacular outdoor stage and a few other visual treats to generate no end of goosebump moments.”


Bleach* again welcomes longtime collaborators The Farm, a Helpmann Award-winning and Gold Coast-based dance theatre company, to present newly commissioned work, Throttle. Billed as a “drive-in live-action movie with a difference”, Throttle is a B-grade thriller that plays out in front of an audience safely ensconced in their cars.


“This intimate style of performance brings your personal fears to life with the idea that to embark on a new journey, you need to face up to your fears and overcome them,” Bezzina said. “Throttle has elements of stunt, the thrill of surprise, the eeriness of a stage lit by car headlights and incredible sound design that comes through your car speakers so you never quite know where the action’s coming from and what’s coming next.”


Also premiering in 2019 is Water Songs, a musical concert series that will travel through the Gold Coast’s waterways. Travelling minstrels will perform from the waterfront into backyards and public parks along the Gold Coast’s network of canals, creeks and channels.


“There is a wonderful opportunity for Gold Coast locals to host or watch these intimate concerts, featuring newly composed music as well as classic covers, on their pontoons or from their local park,” Bezzina said.


Dancenorth - Bleach* 2019From canal to coast, Townsville’s Dancenorth presents Tectonic, a free 15-minute performance installation staged twice a night and inspired by the plight of Torres Strait communities whose island homes will be consumed by rising sea levels.


“This is a fitting show for Bleach* given we’re a coastal community on the Pacific Ocean and Tectonic is staged on the stunning Burleigh Beach.”


Two acclaimed female-led works make their Queensland premiere at Bleach* in 2019: My Urrwai and Landing.


Fresh from Sydney Festival 2018, My Urrwai is Ghenoa Gela’s funny and moving one-woman show recounting her journey as a gay woman from the Torres Strait raised in a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses.


Landing is the response of Perth artist Tanya Lee to Australia’s detention policies and fractious relationship with Manus Island and was a hit at Tasmania’s 2018 Dark Mofo. Presented as an absurd swimming carnival, Landing is conducted over 24 hours in the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre with participants trying to swim the distance from Australia to Manus Island in a continuous relay, guided by people from the local migrant and refugee communities.


Bleach* again welcomes back production powerhouse Strut ‘n’ Fret which will stage Limbo Unhinged in a Spiegeltent at Broadbeach from April 17.


“We’re delighted to have Strut ‘n’ Fret back with one of their most popular shows where visitors can enjoy the ritual of gathering in a venue like the Spiegeltent,” Bezzina said.


Returning in 2019 is the oceanfront Bleach* at Burleigh entertainment precinct, a dedicated festival hub hosting free live music and entertainment across the 12 days including a concert headlined by ARIA-winning songstress Montaigne, Pub Choir at the pop-up Burleigh Bleach* Club (a bar on the beach) and sets by Mama Kin Spender and Kira Puru.


“Broadbeach’s Centenary Park, the state-of-the-art HOTA and the new Bleach* at Burleigh arts hub will become the Festival’s major hotspots in 2019,” Bezzina said. 


“Gold Coast, Bleach* is your festival. Its 2019 program is your invitation to gather, unite, connect, celebrate and be truly amazed. I look forward to seeing you at one of our 28 events during the 12 days of Bleach* Festival,” Bezzina concluded.


Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate applauded the Bleach* team on designing another thought- provoking program.


Bleach* Festival 2019“Bleach* is renowned for its surprises and for pushing the boundaries – 2019 will be no different,’’ he said. “I’m delighted so many local artists and companies get to take centre stage, alongside some of the country’s most daring contemporary art-makers. 2019 is also the finale for our much loved artistic director so let’s get behind 2019 and make this the best festival in our city’s history.’’


Bleach* Festival 2019 marks Bezzina’s eighth and final festival following her recent appointment as artistic director of Brisbane Festival. Her first Brisbane Festival program will be presented in 2020.


For more information, visit www.bleachfestival.com.au


Photos: Throttle (top) by Art Work Agency; Tectonic (left) by Amber Haines; and Between Tiny Cities (right) by Thoeun Veassna.