We’re sending up a bright flare with our early releases

The three shows we’re announcing this week are all pretty special. Individually they capture a characteristic of the 2023 festival, and together they speak to the diversity of the program to come. It’s always a thrilling moment for a festival when the first shows go on sale – it’s like sending up a bright flare to say “hey, we’re nearly here, but meanwhile here’s a hint of what’s to come”.

It was wonderful to focus solely on Tasmanian artists in our 2021 festival, but now that borders are open again, I can’t tell you how exciting it is to welcome international artists back to Ten Days on the Island. In 2023 our audiences will enjoy artists from around Australia and around the world – from places like New Zealand, Wales and Iran. And what a thrill to announce that the ground-breaking New York-based Kronos Quartet will visit Hobart on their Five Decades Tour of Australia.

Kronos’ musical explorations have taken them into musical realms no serious string quartet before them ever dared to go. Over their 50-year history Kronos has embraced minimalism, film and popular culture, jazz, rock, world, children’s music, new choreography, electronica and, of course, pure classical music.

After the success of Kate Mulvaney’s The Mares in 2019, I’ve been longing to present Festival audiences with theatre that’s epic, meaty and relevant. Theatre fans are in for a wild ride with Euripides’ war tragedy Women of Troy, in a terrifyingly timely adaptation by Tom Wright under Ben Winspear’s inspired direction. Archipelago’s version of Women of Troy exists between Greek tragedy and contemporary oratorio. Presenting a new production of Women of Troy is not something any festival takes lightly. Told from the perspective of the victims and ‘human collateral’ of war, the displaced and bereft communities, this is a work that demands deep human empathy, powerful storytelling and virtuosic acting performances in equal measure, and with actors of the calibre of Marta Dusseldorp, Sarah Peirse, Jane Johnson, Angela Mahlatjie and Guy Hooper, and collaborating writers Behrouz Boochani and Katie Noonan creating the work’s choral landscape, this will be an unforgettable night in the Theatre Royal.

And finally, fingers crossed! We’ve been trying to bring Hide the Dog, a delightful new Trans-Tasman family show by Nathan Maynard and Jamie McCaskill to Tasmanian audiences for two years! Covid thwarted its first two seasons in 2021, first at Sydney Festival and then Ten Days on the Island. But third time lucky, we hope, because this show is a such a treat, featuring a fabulous team of Australia’s finest First Nation actors and creatives, including director Isaac Drandic and the completely fabulous performer, Elaine Crombie. It’s an adventure journey across the Tasman Sea toward Aotearoa New Zealand, as seen through the eyes of two young heroes, and Tigs the Tasmanian tiger, reminding us of all the great things about being a kid – best friends, scary monsters, rites of passage and lots of laughter.

Developing new Australian stories is probably the most important responsibility for any arts festival. Ten Days on the Island has been investing in new Tasmanian theatre commissions, supporting artists to create new works and to take our stories to the world for over twenty years. Nathan Maynard’s Hide the Dog is such a joyful example of the imagination and creativity of Tasmanian theatre artists and I’m so excited to finally see it in theatres in Hobart, Burnie and around Australia in 2023!

As I write, tickets are flying out the door for all three of these special events, and that’s just the beginning… the rest of the program is shaping up beautifully, so watch this space.


Image: Milan Milojevic