The ambitious free event, featuring over 500 performers, celebrated the cultural wealth of WA.

Gathering in one of Perth’s largest city parks, tens of thousands of people came to enjoy an ambitious celebration of West Australian talent last night, at the 2016 Perth International Arts Festival’s opening event. The “massive, theatrical, outdoor spectacular” marked the first weekend of this year’s cultural celebrations with a show that dwarfed many of PIAF’s past opening ceremonies. The free event at Langley Park, Home, was the brainchild of new Festival Director Wendy Martin, who is presenting her first programme leading Australia’s oldest arts festival until March 6. Unlike previous years, which have featured an imported act, such as the procession of giant puppets by French company Royal de Luxe in 2015, this year’s focal point has been about championing local talent, celebrating the wealth of artistic achievements made by West Australians.  

The 60-meter wide Home stage at Perth’s Langley Park

Featuring over 500 performers on a 60-meter wide stage, Home brought together a roll call of WA’s most accomplished musicians, writers and artists, including comedian and singer Tim Minchin, acclaimed author Tim Winton and composer-conductor Iain Grandage. There was also a strong focus on Aboriginal performance as the production offered a brief history of Perth and Western Australia from the time of the first European settlements. Representatives of all 14 clans of the Nyoongar nation were involved, including elders such as celebrated artist Richard Walley, musicians and dancers wearing traditional ochres. Home also imagined what WA’s future might look like, using music, theatre and vast video projections to communicate this Australian story.

The event culminated with a procession of local children carrying home-made lanterns, symbolising the passing of the proverbial torch to future generations of West Australians. 

Perth International Arts Festival continues until March 6.

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