Sneak peek at PIAF stars
The Berliner Ensemble’s production of The Threepenny Opera is heading to Perth. Picture: Lesley Leslie-Spinks.

The Berliner Ensemble, one of the world's most influential theatre companies, and a visit by eminent Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, are among early highlights of the next Perth International Arts Festival, to be unveiled in full next month.

Following the free aerial spectacle of Place des Anges last summer, the next Festival will bring things down to earth with La Marea, a night of rolling performances in Subiaco shopfronts, balconies and cafe windows created by Argentinian director Mariano Pensotti.

However, Festival artistic director Jonathan Holloway said a major central-city outdoor spectacle, of a scale similar to the Place des Anges' feather-fest, would be revealed with the full program on November 7.

"We are doing one event which is about large-scale extraordinary spectacle," he said. "It will raise the pulse and get people on their feet."

Ahead of his second Festival, Holloway said there was no fear of suffering "second-album syndrome" after the successes of 2012.

"It is kind of like the 61st album syndrome really for the Festival, given the number of extraordinary things that have happened (since it began)."

The Berliner Ensemble, founded by German playwright and director, Bertolt Brecht, will come to Australia for the first time in its 63-year history to perform the Brecht-Weill masterpiece, The Threepenny Opera, exclusively in Perth.

Holloway said it had taken him two years to secure a visit by the company which rarely leaves its Berlin base. Led by visionary theatre director Robert Wilson, The Threepenny Opera will run for four nights at His Majesty's Theatre.

Holloway described La Marea, which will close Rokeby Road for a night, as a series of 10 short voyeuristic scenes performed simultaneously and repeated 10 times so audiences can roam between them.

"Cumulatively, you get this almost filmic recreation of secret, hidden, unspoken lives in Perth," he said.

Booker winner Atwood will be the star attraction at the Perth Writers Festival to coincide with publication of MaddAddam, the final book in a trilogy, that includes Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood.

Also announced in the 2013 Festival sneak peek was the first Australian tour in 20 years by Dead Can Dance, the ambient-world music duo comprising former Melbournians Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, now based in London. The tour is in support of new studio album, Anastasis.

PIAF will run from February 8 to March 2.

The West Australian

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