Adelaide is abuzz with pop-up theaters. Whether you’re looking for a new twist on an old classic or something a bit edgier, there’s plenty of theatre to explore in this South Australian city.
The festival’s directors Joanne Hartstone and Tom Kitney have invited a wide range of world-class artists to perform at the Festival Theatre this year. See the full program online.
When North Adelaide’s Piccadilly Cinema opened on 23 October 1940, it was billed as the “latest link in an empire of suburban cinemas built by theatre baron Dan Clifford.” The new theater was meant to set a standard for suburban moviegoing, with the latest in cinema technology and stadium seating. It was an ambitious undertaking for a small town, and the theater has lived up to its promise – albeit with a few hiccups along the way.
Today, the historic Art Deco cinema is a three-screen complex, surrounded by trendy restaurants and cafes. The Wallis Theatres-run venue has an enticing meal deal offer that includes a movie and a meal, as well as disabled access at selected sessions.
During the off-season, the Piccadilly hosts a range of events and screenings, including the Adelaide Film Festival. This year, the festival is celebrating two new Australian films: Top End Wedding, starring Miranda Tapsell and Joshua Taylor, and SA director Sophie Hyde’s Animals.
The theatre also houses a series of pop-up performances during Fringe World. This year, the theatre will host The Club, a reworked version of dramatist David Williamson’s classic play about the infighting in an AFL club. The show will feature female actors in all roles. It’s sure to be a blast. The production will run for five days from next month.
The Arts Centre
For a month in mid-February, Adelaide goes a little mad for the Fringe Festival. This is the second largest Fringe in the world, embracing performance art, carnival rides, music and a dazzling array of sideshows. There’s singing, dancing, juggling, acrobatics, theatre, cabaret and almost every other type of human performance expression you can imagine.
Several venues enliven this annual event, including three outdoor spaces dubbed The Garden of Unearthly Delights, Gluttony and the Royal Croquet Club. The city’s North Terrace buildings, meanwhile, glow with nightly light projections known as the Parade of Light.
The Arts Centre itself is a pair of geometric concrete shells set in Elder Park. Its design turned the building axis 45 degrees to face the city and make room for a tall fly tower.
Throughout the year, the centre hosts a slew of events in its various spaces. Highlights include opera singers Tito Gobbi and Marie Collier; jazz artists Acker Bilk and the Paramount Jazz Orchestra; the Salzburg Marionette Theatre; Mahler’s Eighth Symphony; and a performance of Henry V by the Royal Shakespeare Company featuring Sir Richard Lewis.
The centre also stages the annual Adelaide Festival of Arts, which includes a four-day world music festival called WOMADelaide and a week-long celebration of literature and poetry. The festival’s main events feature opera, ballet, classical and contemporary music, theatre and visual art.
Adelaide Festival Centre
The Adelaide Festival Centre is a multi-purpose arts centre that hosts major festivals throughout the year, including Adelaide Fringe, WOMADelaide, Adelaide Cabaret, Adelaide Guitar Festival and OzAsia. It is also home to the Adelaide Theatre Company, Optima Playhouse and Dunstan Playhouse and has a number of gallery and function spaces.
Designed by Hassell Architects and built in the 1970s, it is Australia’s first capital city multi-purpose arts complex. It is located on Kaurna Yarta and includes the Festival Theatre, a variety of performance venues, a cinema and several galleries.
It is now a major cultural and entertainment centre that hosts the world’s best artists, musicians and performers. It also features a range of food, drink and shopping options. In addition, it offers an extensive public program. The Adelaide Festival Centre is a popular tourist attraction, with more than one million people visiting it in 2023.
This year, the Festival will feature more than 1200 events, half of them occurring outside the central city. Buskers will perform in parks, warehouses, laneways and even disused buildings. A soapmaker called Schuldfabrik will set up shop on King William Street, selling soap made from human fat sourced from liposuction procedures. The profits will go towards digging wells in a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Festival is a great place to meet new friends and share a good laugh.
The State Library of South Australia
The State Library of South Australia is one of Adelaide’s major cultural institutions located along North Terrace, often referred to as the city’s cultural boulevard. This unique library was built to collect, protect and share publications of interest to South Australians. Today, it houses a range of collections that span the history of the state and includes an expansive collection of Aboriginal materials.
The library also commemorates distinguished South Australians and significant benefactors in its naming of buildings, rooms and spaces. For instance, the historic Institute Building was originally a private house that was donated to the Library in 1861. It was followed by the Jervois and Mortlock wings, and a modern linking wing, the Spence Wing, which opened in 2003.
Inside the walls of the library, visitors can experience a range of interactive activities. For example, the award-winning children’s show, A Giant Popup Book Ghost Story is a spooky adventure that combines puppetry and storytelling. Theresa O’Connor’s performance fuses storytelling, music and props to bring this dark tale to life.
In addition, the library also offers a variety of free and paid events and programs for adults. These include a series of weekly Tuesday Talks, a monthly Poetry Breakfast and an annual Educators Ball. It also hosts a range of art exhibitions including the recent installation of 2023 Breaking Ground by Gail Hocking.