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PIAF: Let the shows begin
The West Australian

Thousands of people gathered on the shores of Matilda Bay last night for the start of the 61st Perth International Arts Festival.

The Beginnings event gathered pace from a moving Welcome to Country ceremony and traditional stories about the Crawley foreshore to a recital of Shakespearean sonnets in Noongar symbolising the intersection of two cultures on Wadjuk Boodja (country).

After singer-songwriter Archie Roach and his band brought the concert to a stirring conclusion, many in the crowd flocked across Hackett Drive to take in the LUMINOUSnight centenary celebrations at the University of WA.

Vivid images danced across the northern face of historic Winthrop Hall in a spectacular projection show. Dozens of other events, including the flittering bird-like performance of Chrissie Parrott's dance troupe, lit up the campus.

Spectators at UWA were not the only ones tripping the light fantastic last night.

There were full houses for the opening of the WA Ballet's 20th anniversary season of Ballet at the Quarry in City Beach, the Berliner Ensemble's Threepenny Opera at His Majesty's Theatre and the Ballet National de Marseille's The Truth 25 Times a Second at the Heath Ledger Theatre.

They were among 13 Festival events to open this weekend.

WA Ballet artistic director Aurelien Scannella said the outdoor ballet season seemed to be embedded into the psyche of the Perth summer.

"There is a natural atmosphere we cannot get in a closed theatre," the Belgian ballet master said.

No sooner had the Festival begun and Fringe World hit the halfway mark than the pause button was pressed on most of the festivities in the Perth Cultural Centre to make way for the St Jerome's Laneway Festival today.

PIAF's popular Festival Gardens and almost all of the Fringe World hub will be shut while a line-up of bands play to 8000 music fans.

Fringe organisers had to pack up three of their pop-up venues and guides steered patrons between shows last night as Laneway roadies arrived.

"Not being able to program venues on Saturday is a shame and having to rebuild on Sunday will be a bit painful but we have loved being in the Cultural Centre, expanding outside of the Urban Orchard and inhabiting all the nooks and crannies," Fringe World director Marcus Canning said.

PIAF and Fringe World shows at the State Theatre Centre are unaffected and programming will return to normal in the rest of the precinct tomorrow.

However, another snag has hit festival-goers with Perth train station closed on one of Perth's busiest cultural weekends.

"It is a perfect storm," Mr Canning said.

"All of these public activations happening at the same time with the station closed is a bummer but the city is undergoing an extensive transformation and you've got to go through that teething phase to get to the sweet bit."