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Stephen A Russell

Stephen A Russell

Articles (96)

Stephen Page talks leaning in to being a grandfather and bowing out of Bangarra

Stephen Page talks leaning in to being a grandfather and bowing out of Bangarra

Generations of love have been poured into Waru – Journey of the small turtle. The first work specifically created for children to emerge, as if blinking from an egg onto a surf-tossed beach,  from the nation’s preeminent First Nations-led company, Bangarra Dance Theatre. This gentle show is inspired by the totemic systems of the Torres Strait, drawing deep on the Kalaw Kawaw Ya language spoken on the western islands of Mabuyag, Baddhu and Thursday Island. It’s a beautiful, immersive work aimed at kids aged 3-7. Elma Kris steps into the narrator role of Aka Malu (grandmother), with Aba Bero as green turtle hatchling Migi, who learns all about the lifecycle of her people and the land and sea they call home.  “There’s a little bit of give and take,” outgoing artistic director Stephen Page says of the participatory experience. Following a sold-out season at Bangarra’s Walsh Bay home in 2022, it will usher in a new era in Sydney’s arts scene, opening the Pavilion Performing Arts Centre  in  Sutherland  as part of the Sydney Festival program, before setting off on a regional tour in 2023 that includes Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory. It’s a beautiful, guided, raw and honest process Penned by actor, dancer, writer, director and Play School presenter (and Stephen’s son) Hunter Page-Lochard, Waru expands on the ‘Turtle’ sequence of Bangarra’s glowing 2001 triptych Corroboree. That work was choreographed by his father, who also helms this new iteration. Page senior is l

What to see at Midsumma Festival

What to see at Midsumma Festival

When Melbourne begins to scorch and everyone begins to glisten, the LGBTIQA+ extravaganza Midsumma Festival returns to glow up the cultural calendar. Celebrating a magnificent 25 years of queer excellence in 2023, this year's line-up includes all the beloved regulars, like the Alexandra Gardens-rocking Midsumma Carnival day and the Pride March along Fitzroy Street in St Kilda, as well as locking in last year's northside addition. Now dubbed Victoria's Pride Street Party, it takes over Gertrude and Smith Street. But beyond the big (free) tickets listed above, there's a plethora of perfection on offer foreveryone from sports lovers to theatre darlings. Even better, the more you see, the cheaper it gets, with a 10% discount for booking three shows in one go. Midsumma runs from Jan 21-Feb 12, 2023. Find out more here. Don't miss out on the other theatre productions happening in Melbourne this month.  

The ten best films to see at MQFF this year

The ten best films to see at MQFF this year

It’s that time of year again when the LGBTIQA+ rainbow unfurls over the city’s cinemas in celebration of some of the most exciting movies out and proud around the globe. That's right, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival is back, and sparkles onto the scene from November 10 to 21. Marking the final hurrah for program director Spiro Economopoulos after almost eight years in the top job, he’s psyched to be bowing out on a high.  “During that time I’ve seen some pretty radical shifts in the queer filmmaking landscape and a broadening of the voices that we’re getting to hear from,” he says. “Obviously, the last couple of years have been tough for everyone, but I’m really excited to see where queer cinema goes from here.” Here are his top tips at this year’s MQFF. For more information and to check out the full program, head to the website. Love going to the cinema? Here's where to get cheap movie tickets in Melbourne.

The ten best films to see at MIFF this year

The ten best films to see at MIFF this year

After the tumult of the last couple of years, you’d forgive the team behind this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) if they kept things intimate. But given it’s the 70th anniversary of Australia’s largest and longest-running film festival, that was never going to happen. “Somehow MIFF is actually bigger than ever this year,” chuckles artistic director Al Cossar, as if he doesn’t quite believe it himself. “It’s really exciting, exhausting and exhilarating.” He wanted to embrace the new normal of meeting audiences where they are after two years of streaming online-only. So MIFF will once again take over cinemas across the city from August 4-21, including bringing Carlton’s giant-sized IMAX back into the fold. It will also spread out to the suburbs, catering for cinemagoers who prefer to stay local, with Yarraville’s Sun Theatre, Coburg’s Pentridge Cinema and Hawthorn’s Lido Cinema joining the illustrious Astor Theatre in St Kilda. Then there will be nine regional hubs, including the Peninsula Cinemas in Sorrento, Star Cinema in Bendigo, The Pivotonian in Geelong, and Paramount Cinemas in Echuca. You can also choose to MIFF and chill at home, sticking to your sofa and streaming 18 days of festival highlights from August 11-28. The in-cinema offering is evolving too, with special relaxed screenings, and sessions that welcome folks with babies. “A festival is more than the sum of its films,” Cossar says. “It’s the sum of its moments.” MIFF will screen Of An Age as

Stephen Page on the tragedy and love behind Bangarra Dance Theatre's return to the stage

Stephen Page on the tragedy and love behind Bangarra Dance Theatre's return to the stage

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains the name of someone who has passed. The family of Ningali Lawford-Wolf has given the media permission to use her name. Stephen Page, artistic director of Bangarra Dance Theatre, is sitting in the belly of the Sydney Opera House looking out over the beautiful bay of water of the Eora Nation when we speak. He’s thinking about his late brothers Russell and David, and all that they gave to building the First Nations-led dance company that has woven so much richness into the cultural fabric of Australia; their presence is always felt in every work produced by this troupe. Russell lives on in the flickering shadow of his silken moves, and David's life's work assembling a vast audio vault informs the company's musical direction to this day. The twin tragedies of their loss reverberate in the magnificent documentary Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra. As does the strength and joy Stephen Page still draws from them every day. If he feels their loss keenly, he can always step into Bangarra's archive, a living monument to 35-plus years of brilliance, and play something from the files that will remind him of them. "I can go in there and listen to a wet season coming from a distance for about four minutes in this beautiful soundscape,” Page says. “It’s great that we can still have those inspirations, and you know, they’re cheeky buggers, those two boys. They stir me up all the time to ke

Where to find the best public art in Sydney

Where to find the best public art in Sydney

You don't even need to set foot in a gallery to get your art fix in this glorious city. You can also stretch your legs and go for wander, taking in plenty of creative inspiration on the streets with these notable works of public art. Here are some of our faves you can seek out on foot.  Can't get enough art? Find out what's happening indoors too.

Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley shares his top picks from the 2022 line-up

Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley shares his top picks from the 2022 line-up

It’s a little over half a year since the postponed 2021 Sydney Film Festival (SFF) opened to rapturous applause with anthology film Here Out West, a joyous celebration of the many communities that call Western Sydney home. Now that it's back in its usual spot, running June 8-19, with over 200 films to pick from, festival director Nashen Moodley says movie lovers can celebrate more of what makes this cinematic smorgasbord tick after two unusual years. “Most pivotal is the return of international filmmakers as festival guests and interstate filmmakers in much bigger numbers,” he says. “It’s great to have parties again, and the festival hub returns. It’s such a key meeting point.” This year’s opening night gala, the First Nations-driven movie We Are Still Here, presents multiple interlocking stories told by Indigenous filmmakers from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific all responding to the arrival of Captain James Cook. “We’re so excited to open with this film,” Moodley says. “It showcases incredible new talent, and there’s such a range of styles. It’s going to take people on a real journey through time and space stretching over 1,000 years, from ancient times into the future.” Photograph: Supplied/SFF | We Are Still Here First Nations talent will also be on show in two TV series showcased in full at the fest. Director Dylan River, a regular contributor to SFF, will present Mystery Road: Origin. It reveals the backstory of a young Detective Jay Swan, initially played b

Bow to the gods of debauchery as Dark Mofo festival resurrects

Bow to the gods of debauchery as Dark Mofo festival resurrects

All hail Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of mulled wine-fuelled merriment, whose wild winds of debauchery will envelop Hobart as Dark Mofo summons forth his Bacchanalian spirit. Unleashing a glorious whirlwind of artistic chaos across two weeks marking the winter solstice from June 8 to 22, creative director Leigh Carmichael has reassembled the festival that is no stranger to raising eyebrows and spirits under the banner of ‘Resurrection’. It’s a fitting theme after two years of maelstrom prevented many of us from ferrying our spirits across the Tasmanian sea. And what a magnificent feast of the weird and wonderful Carmichael has conjured up, with much of it free to see.  “As the cultural world re-emerges from the darkness of cancellations and lockdowns, we are all experiencing a rebirth, of sorts,” he says. “The forced isolation gave rise to a re-evaluation of what matters, to new ideas, new dreams.” Photograph: Supplied/Dark Mofo | Ogoh-ogoh Some 100-plus artists from 30 countries across the globe will descend on Hobart, transforming every corner of the city into a multi-sensory extravaganza. Always packing a program of weird, intriguing and controversial happenings, Tasmania’s midwinter festival is pitched as a setting to explore the links between ancient and contemporary mythology, humans and nature, religious and secular traditions, darkness and light, and birth, death and renewal. First Nations Elders from across Lutruwita (Tasmania) mark the opening of Dark Mofo by ass

Bow to the gods of debauchery as Dark Mofo festival resurrects

Bow to the gods of debauchery as Dark Mofo festival resurrects

All hail Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of mulled wine-fuelled merriment, whose wild winds of debauchery will envelop Hobart as Dark Mofo summons forth his Bacchanalian spirit. Unleashing a glorious whirlwind of artistic chaos across two weeks marking the winter solstice from June 8 to 22, creative director Leigh Carmichael has reassembled the festival that is no stranger to raising eyebrows and spirits under the banner of ‘Resurrection’. It’s a fitting theme after two years of maelstrom prevented many of us from ferrying our spirits across the Tasmanian sea. And what a magnificent feast of the weird and wonderful Carmichael has conjured up, with much of it free to see.  “As the cultural world re-emerges from the darkness of cancellations and lockdowns, we are all experiencing a rebirth, of sorts,” he says. “The forced isolation gave rise to a re-evaluation of what matters, to new ideas, new dreams.” Photograph: Supplied/Dark Mofo | Ogoh-ogoh Some 100-plus artists from 30 countries across the globe will descend on Hobart, transforming every corner of the city into a multi-sensory extravaganza. Always packing a program of weird, intriguing and controversial happenings, Tasmania’s midwinter festival is pitched as a setting to explore the links between ancient and contemporary mythology, humans and nature, religious and secular traditions, darkness and light, and birth, death and renewal. First Nations Elders from across Lutruwita (Tasmania) mark the opening of Dark Mofo by ass

What starring in era-defining Hamilton mean to Lyndon Watts and Victory Ndukwe

What starring in era-defining Hamilton mean to Lyndon Watts and Victory Ndukwe

Household name Lin-Manuel Miranda played the titular role in juggernaut musical Hamilton, which some 3 million people watched when it appeared on Disney+ in 2020. Those are pretty enormous shoes that South African-born, Perth-raised actor Jason Arrow filled at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre. And Lyndon Watts was standing right next to him in the room where it happens as the soon-to-be vice president of the United States Aaron Burr. They studied together at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, with Watts the year below Arrow. “Jason is one of the most overwhelmingly talented people I’ve ever come across in my life,” Watts beams. “He’s exceptional and has such a kind heart. It’s joyful, and it’s playful. Having the company of another mixed-race man of colour in the lead is something that I haven’t had before, and to have that with my fellow actors makes me feel so comfortable and safe and supported.” Watts is taking time out from the thick of dress rehearsals when we speak, but he is currently donning his daggiest trackies and worn-out runners. Pulling on the Hamilton frock coats helps him transport himself back to New York in 1776. “Stepping into a beautiful tailor-made suit jacket and vests and all this the finery adds an element of reality,” he says. “You can’t slouch in these costumes. Your shoulders naturally sit in a certain way.” History hangs on those shoulders. Watts wanted to come to Burr on his own terms, largely avoiding the Disney+ version and the original c

The best online and at-home Australian escape rooms

The best online and at-home Australian escape rooms

Since everything changed in 2020, congregating together, getting hectic, sweaty and sweary while running around breathlessly in a locked room seemed like a really bad idea. Which should tank the entire concept of a high-stakes escape room, right? Wrong. Turns out everyone’s favourite panic-inducing entertainment made the switch to digital too. The rapidly expanding at-home take on the escape room genre comes in many forms. Some will have you interacting with an actual actor on a video call, some are glorified surveys and others are a bit more video game-like. Lockdown may be over, but it looks like the convenience of an at-home escape room is here to stay. Here are a few of our faves to keep you screaming for more clues/time/chill while you're stuck at home. Want to try your hand at an in-person escape room? Here are some of our favourites, including an absolutely terrifying Saw-themed one.

After lockdowns and lockouts, Sydney's nightlife is ready for a renaissance

After lockdowns and lockouts, Sydney's nightlife is ready for a renaissance

When Club 77 co-owner Dane Gorrel looked out at the glittering crowd partying on Mardi Gras weekend, he didn’t just see profits flowing after the wilderness of lockdowns. “There was this real sense of community coming back,” he says. “People were so happy hanging out with their friends where they feel safe and comfortable. They get to listen to music, see DJs and dance. Everyone’s just really excited to be out and about, expressing themselves freely.” Reopening meant welcoming back a battalion of valued collaborators, like Peter Shopovski who runs the venue’s regular Sunday arvo LGBTIQA+ celebration the House of Mince, and Jamie Wirth who wrangles the Animal House parties. “While we were shut down, we were working with DJs and promoters to figure out our plan for the year, and we’ve got a pretty full calendar booked,” Gorrel says.  But it’s not just bartenders, security staff, DJs and the punters who benefit from Club 77’s return. An entire ecosystem revolves around the venue, including neighbouring business 77 convenience store. “If we’re not operating, those guys aren’t making any money,” Gorrel says. “If we run out of post-mix during the night, we can grab Coke or lemonade from them or an RCA cable. They take all our deliveries if we’re not here. They look after us very well, and vice versa.” There was this real sense of community coming back One of the most challenging aspects of firing up Club 77 was the short notice entertainment venues received. “We’ve been running pr

Listings and reviews (337)

Sunday

Sunday

3 out of 5 stars

“What do they do all day in Sydney? Stare at the water?” It is mischievous to single out this line of sassy, intercity rivalry, uttered with a tart exasperation by Heide matriarch Sunday Reed in the Melbourne Theatre Company show named for her. And yet, it gets to the nub of the Melbourne story celebrated here, where Sydney, or rather Sidney, is almost an antagonist. Portrayed with exhilarating panache by an outstanding Nikki Shiels, Sunday is a luminous presence. A woman before her time, she helped shape Australian modernism by founding the artistic commune Heide on a former dairy farm on the city’s then-rural edges.Under her guidance, it became a bohemian refuge where art and love collided in tempestuous eddies by the Yarra. A place destined to become the modern art museum of the same name. Shiels is an actor of such calibre that she swung standing in for Eryn-Jean Norvill during her celebrated turn in The Picture of Dorian Gray. We hang on her every word here. In the opening moments of Sunday, she looks out to us, the audience, standing in for what we come to realise is a Sidney Nolan portrait of her at Heide long after he has abandoned her and this place. Describing in great detail the specific colour of Melbourne’s sky and grass, it’s a provocation to her eventually adopted son Sweeney (Joshua Tighe) – born to Heide resident artist Joy Hester (Ratidzo Mambo) – to look closer. To see and feel more. Sunday was unable to have children, and the play makes much of art as her

Pieces

Pieces

4 out of 5 stars

One of the most influential choreographers in Australia, Lucy Guerin has helped shape thethe physical language of this country (and beyond) for four decades now, two of them under the direction of her own company, Lucy Guerin Inc. With a mandate to challenge our understanding of contemporary dance, a big part of the company’s approach has been Guerin’s commitment to fostering talent. Annual showcase Pieces is the perfect platform to do so.And what better stage than the vast hall of Newport’s creative hub, the Substation? Aneoclassical brick cathedral with nods to old places of worship, it once helped power the nearby train lines then lay dormant for thirty-odd years before being reborn as a temple to the arts.You can’t help but be awestruck by its towering bones, demanding a lot of a solo performer to somehow fill this place with their presence. Australian-Javanese dancer Melanie Lane makes it look easy. 'Into the Woods', the first of three 20-minute works, is not an adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical. But there is something of his rewriting dark Brothers Grimm fairy tales in this feminist reclamation of bold women lost to savage witch hunts led by oppressive patriarchal forces. Perched in oversized pants the iridescent green shade of fish scales and a dark top, her long hair braided in a solitary tail, Lane recites fragments of historical records relaying the unfortunate ends of women accused of sorcery during the Middle Ages. Her haunting oration plays out against a

A Simple Act of Kindness

A Simple Act of Kindness

4 out of 5 stars

When the apocalypse came (aka the Fall aka the event that shall not be named) and subsequent rolling lockdowns gripped Melburnians tight in their homes, all sorts of things started to fall apart. Social cohesion and community spirit? For every front-line service person performing Herculean efforts to hold hospitals and the like back from the brink, there were hordes of absolute drongos getting their biffo on over toilet roll in the supermarket. But in a ridiculous twist you could see coming a mile away, somehow house prices cruised on through pretty much undented. It was peak Melbourne that real estate was immune to the end of the world. This is what makes A Simple Act of Kindness, Ross Mueller’s savagely satirical swipe at the city’s head-spinning property mania, so outrageously hilarious. Set during the encroachment of this attempted Armageddon, the edges of society are already fraying but will soon be torn apart. There’s something of Jane Austen’s laceration of the marriage contract in the emotionally blackmailed bargain that sparky comedian Lou Wall (Bleep Bloop), as young law school escapee Sophia, strikes with her furloughed travel agent father Tony (the always engaging Joe Petruzzi). Apparently unable to land a suitable suitor and obviously unable to score a mortgage without one in these helter-skelter days of housing unaffordability, she has hit on feigning engagement to her best friend, a clearly queer Greg (a gloriously skittish performance by Khisraw Jones-Shukoor)

Monsters

Monsters

3 out of 5 stars

The human mind is a remarkable but tricksy thing. It holds, in its murkiest corners, a primal fear for survival that can, perversely, transform a jacket hanging in the closet or a box under the bed into a hulking, monstrous thing. A shadowy threat whose baleful presence sets the heart racing once darkness has crept across the corners of our bedroom. This murderous projection, a strange quirk of our ancient makeup, has led us to hand down through the ages countless tales of frightful things that go bump in the night. It’s a fact picked up on by Monsters lead Alison Whyte, raised in deceptively convivial fashion before the show gets underway, as if sitting with us by a fire, mug of hot chocolate in hand. The latest theatrical blockbuster helmed by Malthouse artistic director Matthew Lutton (Picnic at Hanging Rock), Monsters takes over the cavernous Merlyn Theatre. Whyte perches on the lip of set and lighting designer Paul Jackson’s vast staging that is, at first, mostly absent. Framed by a strip of brilliant white light blazing top and bottom, what lies between is unknowable.  Monsters, written by Emme Hoy (STC’s The Tenant of Wildefel Hall), invites us to imagine this void as a giant sinkhole that has opened inexplicably in a city street overnight, consuming an apartment complex. Whyte, a veteran of Lutton’s Cloudstreet adaptation who has also appeared in films including The Dressmaker, stands tremulous on its edge. She plans to venture deep into this abyss that has swallowed

Instruments of Dance

Instruments of Dance

It’s been a powerhouse year for the Australian Ballet under the stewardship of former American Ballet Theatre star David Hallberg. The company breathed new life into adored classics like superstar choreographer Yuri Possokhov’s lush reimagining of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and will take us into Christmas with John Cranko’s adored spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But they also upended expectations of what the world-renowned troupe can do, pirouetting into breathtaking contemporary form with Kunstkamer, originally commissioned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Nederlands Dans Theater. If the latter left you stunned, trust us, you’re going to want to snap up tickets to their next wow-inducing outing at the Sydney Opera House, Instruments of Dance. Presenting a superstar triple bill of contemporary ballet, this is your chance to catch the physically silken creations of three of the most in-demand choreographers at work in the business right now.  Tony Award-winning New York City Ballet hotshot Justin Peck was the man revered filmmaker Steven Spielberg reached out to craft the choreography of his loving retelling of cherished musical West Side Story. He’s also a talented filmmaker who whipped up the music video for The National track ‘Dark Side of the Gym’. So you can expect he’ll pack some of that silver screen magic into Everywhere We Go. Marking the first time his work has hit Australian stages, the high-impact sequence taps 25 of the Australian Ballet’s dancers. M

Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh

Korean-born, London-based sculptor and installation artist Do Ho Suh is an incredible engineer of space and time. Like Doctor Who in the TARDIS, he can seemingly reconfigure the walls of any gallery to materialise incandescent forms that mess with the fabric of a room. He, quite literally, plays with our perceptions by creating ghostly fabric structures.  Step into his incredible exhibitions and he’ll make you feel as if the gallery is bigger on the inside than out, or vice versa, playing with the idea of eternity and impermanence in a way that leaves you overcome with emotion. In the Tate Modern in London, he hung discombobulating upside-down staircases in gauzy red from the ceiling, like fragments of Escher’s dreams. Or there’s the intensely personal recreation of the apartment he used to call home in the New York neighbourhood of Chelsea, reconjured ghost-like over the bridge at the Brooklyn Museum. Mundane objects like a radiator or an oven were imbued with beauty simply by having their shape retraced out of pinned pale blue nylon.  You can be transported by Suh’s shapeshifting spectacles with a massive solo show at the MCA, his first staged in the Southern Hemisphere, as part of Sydney International Art Series. A team-up with the Art Gallery of NSW and the state government, the event is about showcasing awesome artists' past and present work. Suh is a huge highlight.  Taking in three decades-worth of work, it includes large-scale installations like the aforementioned ‘St

Primavera

Primavera

Art doesn’t always have to be about dead old white dudes from centuries ago. I mean, we love Michelangelo’s sublime Sistine Chapel, Van Gogh’s gorgeously glowing ‘Sunflowers’ and drifting into a daze with Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’, but here at Time Out towers, there are few scenarios that excite us more than the exhilarating shock of the new.  Nowhere is the MCA’s dedicated focus on the exciting artists of today made clearer than their annual Primavera showcase, which platforms up-and-comers 35 years and under. The longest-running contemporary art exhibition in Australia is the brainchild of philanthropists Cynthia and Ted Jackson, who wanted to honour the memory of their gifted jeweller daughter Belinda. Spring was her favourite time of year, hence the show borrowing the Italian term for the season that sees Sydney showered in petals from blossoming Jacarandas.  This year’s flourishing artists include local fast-rising star Julia Gutman, who breathes new life into found textiles from op shops, mates’ donations, and literally discovered scattered on the streets, to create tapestries thrumming with modern life, with a particular focus on femininity. We loved her recent work ‘Once More, With Feeling’, depicting her and her housemates lounging on a sofa, watching the classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode during lockdown.  Townsville-born, Melbourne-based artist Amrita Hepi is a gifted dancer who has twice taken home the People’s Choice Award during the Keir Choreographic

Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical

Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical

5 out of 5 stars

After taking Melbourne and Sydney by storm in 2022, Time Out can exclusively reveal that Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical is returning to Melbourne for an encore season, as well as adding new shows on the east coast. After standing ovations took hold around the country (and we here at Time Out Melbourne graced the production with a five-star review), the cast and crew are now planning to get the party started in the Gold Coast at the HOTA, Home of the Arts from January 19-29, before returning to Sydney in collaboration with Riverside Theatres, Parramatta from February 2-12, and then making a triumphant return to Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre from February 16. Based on the 1782 French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses (which was also the basis for 1988's Dangerous Liaisons), Cruel Intentions had an all-star, all-'90s cast in Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar, at the height of her Buffy powers.  So, in 2015, Lindsey Rosin, Jordan Ross and the film's writer and director, Roger Kumble, turned the story into a jukebox musical, leaning hard into '90s nostalgia – and the songs in the musical are probably even more emblematic of the decade than the film's soundtrack was.  Sign up to the waitlist to get tickets first, and read on for our five-star review of this sexy, 90's-fuelled production. -- Cruel Intentions writer/director Roger Kumble’s potty-mouthed contemporary update on Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel Dangerous Liaisons may have debut

Cyrano

Cyrano

We’ve all been stuck in the corner of a party trying to extricate ourselves from someone who is at great pains to tell us how brilliant they are without presenting evidence to back it up. So if someone self-identifies as a wildly witty wordsmith with a gift for composing romantic poetry, they really need to bring the swoon factor. Heart-soaring fun is exactly what I was expecting heading into MTC’s long-delayed reimagining of French Romantic playwright Edmond Rostand’s classic 19th work Cyrano [de Bergerac]. Fronted by abundantly charismatic star Virginia Gay – so fabulous as Calamity Jane – she steps into the gender-swapped role of the poetic soldier loosely based on a real-life Libertine. She also penned this meta-textually playful re-do. Cyrano rocks bravado, telling anyone who’ll listen how good she is at fighting and rhyming. But she’s secretly crippled by self-doubt over the much-remarked upon size of her nose, preventing her from declaring her love for similarly gifted wordsmith Roxanne, played by fast-rising First Nations star Tuuli Narkle (Mystery Road Origin). That allows hunky fellow soldier Yan (Claude Jabbour, who popped up in Stateless alongside Cate Blanchett, Asher Keddie and Yvonne Strahovski) to muscle in, immediately capturing Roxanne’s eye. But Roxanne values thoughtful insights over action, which leads Cyrano into a spot of self-flagellation as she feels compelled to aid Yan in wooing the woman she loves. It’s here that a creeping suspicion we’re stuck in

Clean

Clean

4 out of 5 stars

“Life can be very fragile,” says Sandra Pankhurst, the indomitable businesswoman at the heart of Lachlan Mcleod’s stirring documentary Clean. She would know more than most. Forcibly adopted as a child, it created a schism that an expert in reconnecting people with their biological parents later tells her can hang heavy in the mind of an adult, even if taken as a newborn infant. Tragically, she would then endure horrendous abuse and abandonment at the hands of the so-called family that took her in. The physical and emotional scars of this violence were deep. Terrified that history would repeat, Pankhurst later walked away from her own family, leaving two young sons behind. This deepening chasm correlated with a reckoning with her gender identity, eventually leading to Pankhurst transitioning. More trauma awaited during a stretch of sex work while battling drug and alcohol addiction – but Pankhurst is a survivor, and her determination to move forward with her life constructively led to her establishing Melbourne’s largest dedicated 'trauma cleaning' business. The compelling subject of Sarah Krasnostein’s award-winning biography The Trauma Cleaner is a force to be reckoned with, one the camera loves. Mcleod wisely strips back the doco to centre on her story and her determination to bring order where there is chaos. A big-hearted woman and plain speaker who is averse to nonsense, Pankhurst threw herself into the often grim aftermath of crime scenes and deceased estates, shoulderi

Petrol

Petrol

3 out of 5 stars

Chip into the dark crust surrounding an opal, stare into its iridescent heart and it looks as if you’re gazing into the cosmos. Burning with the majesty of a rainbow, this unearthly-looking gemstone could have fallen from the stars, but was actually forged in the dirt below our feet over millennia. The mysterious qualities of this highly prized find have long drawn prospectors to the barren places where it can be mined, like the otherworldly moonscape of ocker outback town Lightning Ridge in north-western New South Wales. The perfect setting, then, for Melbourne-based, Russian-born filmmaker Alena Lodkina’s mesmerising debut feature, Strange Colours (2017), magnifying the emotional impact of this unforgettable tale about an estranged daughter trying to reconnect with her absentee father. One of the strongest Australian debuts in recent years, it set an impossibly high bar for Lodkina to follow. While sophomore feature Petrol certainly glints unusually, it’s not quite cut from the same rich seam, even though it is the more ambitious movie. Debuting at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland before competing in the Melbourne International Film Festival’s (MIFF) inaugural Bright Horizons award, it’s knowingly playful with the filmmaking form. Lodkina casts Bump star Nathalie Morris as Eva, a film school student trying to lock down inspiration for her grad movie. While working on the sound recording of a vampire flick shot by the sea, she falls under the spell of enigmatic star

Moja Vesna

Moja Vesna

4 out of 5 stars

In any other situation, the absurdity of a ten-year-old standing in the school playground haggling over the phone to secure baby items from a perplexed Gumtree contact, unseen and unconvinced at the other end of the line, would play as broad comedy. But in Slovenian-Australian filmmaker Sara Kern’s beautifully realised feature debut Moja Vesna, this moment, alongside many others, will rip out your heart and dance on the sorry fragments. Expanding on the writer/director’s award-winning short Vesna Goodbye, this Melbourne-set melancholia unfurls in the outer suburbs. Moja (magnificently expressive newcomer Loti Kovacic) is almost single-handedly trying to keep her family together in the wake of the unseen death of her mother, a tragedy she chooses not to acknowledge. When pushed to do so, she sinks into a sort of fugue state that can only be managed by repeating out loud the sort of disaster response instructions you’d learn if you were the fire warden in an office building. While it’s painful to witness these quiet collapses, Moja is handling things far better than those around her who should rightfully be guiding her through this unspeakable moment. Older, though still young, sister Vesna (Mackenzie Mazur) is pregnant – hence Moja’s quest for baby clothes – and in freefall. Chain-smoking her cares away while performing spoken-word poetry haunted by dark imagery of spiders and scars, Vesna will no more confront the reality of her pregnancy than Moja will face the loss of their

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These are the biggest movies you can catch in Sydney right now

These are the biggest movies you can catch in Sydney right now

It’s been far too long since we sat in a dark movie theatre, losing popcorn to impossible crevices while smearing melted choc-tops liberally across our best out-of-the-house outfits. And we couldn’t be any happier for this gloriously cinematic mess. We're getting you ready to return to the movies by getting you up to scratch on the hottest new releases. Here are five of the biggest movies you can catch in Sydney’s cinemas right now. Recommended: The best cinemas in Sydney. No Time to Die OK, OK, we’re cheating a little because Daniel Craig’s final mission as Bond, James Bond doesn’t open until November 11, but tickets are already on sale and it’s all anyone is talking about already. Word to the wise, avoid the internet for the next few weeks if you don’t want any spoilers. But you can rest assured our reviewer LOVED 007’s swansong, hinting, “There are big, unprecedented storytelling decisions.” You can read the full review here Nitram The biggest Australian release of the year took home Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for star Caleb Landry-Jones. The controversial film is a powerful and remarkably sensitive reckoning with the days that led up to the Port Arthur massacre and that terrible day that led to a complete overhaul of Australian gun laws. Our reviewer said, “The film does not glorify his murderous act or even depict it. Nor does it name him. What it does, with bone-shuddering brilliance, is reinforce why those reforms were necessary.” You can read the full revi

Fully vaccinated? You could win a million dollars

Fully vaccinated? You could win a million dollars

Unlike some places overseas, including the US, there hasn’t been much of the carrot-reward approach to encouraging folks getting vaccinated in Australia, beyond the roadmap to unlocking. That changed dramatically over the weekend. A group of cashed-up philanthropists, including MYOB founder Craig Winkler, have tipped into a prize fund that’s been dubbed Million Dollar Vax. A lottery prize pot of $4.1 million is up for grabs for any Australian who has had at least one vaccination to date and has or will be double jabbed by December 13 and able to prove so with a vaccination certificate. Each day in October the pot will cough up $1,000 gift cards. But the main drawcard is a $1 million jackpot, to be drawn on November 5. Winkler says Million Dollar Vax, based on the American models, is more about rewarding folks who have already decided to get jabbed, rather than specifically encouraging them to do so. In a statement he clarified that: “That’s a decision you should make in consultation with a health professional. The promotion simply seeks to reward people who decide to be vaccinated now rather than waiting, so that we can reduce the community impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” He also noted that the faster we get above 80 per cent vaccination rates across the nation, the sooner we can help states to unlock safely and all get back to some sort of normality in our lives. If you have already been double jabbed or are keen to do so, you can sign up for the lottery here. Want to save

STC has signed a game-changing deal with super-producer Michael Cassel

STC has signed a game-changing deal with super-producer Michael Cassel

If you’re stupendously excited about the avalanche of massive main stage shows opening this summer, including not one but two dramatic big hitters from Sydney Theatre Company (STC) before the end of the year in Julius Caesar and Death of a Salesman, then you’re going to LOVE this news. The illustrious company has signed a ‘first look’ deal with super-producers Michael Cassel Group (MCG). What that means in practice is that MCG will have first dibs on transferring or remounting any show that STC creates with a view to touring it interstate or internationally. It’s the first time an agreement of this nature has been struck by a theatre company in Australia. And it’s already up and running. The current lockdown may have postponed a planned encore run of artistic director Kip Williams’ Oscar Wilde adaptation The Picture of Dorian Gray, the one-woman show starring an astounding Eryn Jean Norvill as all 26 characters, but MCG have snapped it up. That ensures audiences all over the country and overseas stand at chance at seeing it for themselves in the very near future. Reviewer Maxim Boon said of the star, “Norvill produces some of the most virtuosic theatre I have ever witnessed, on stage or screen,” and of Williams, “he has deftly explored an intersection between the cinematic and theatrical, creating productions on the bleeding edge of stagecraft that bridge the liminal space between these two modes of storytelling.” Speaking of the newly inked deal, Williams said, “I am so thri

Check out this really cool creative studio opening in the city

Check out this really cool creative studio opening in the city

In exciting news for creative minds warming up for Sydney’s upcoming cultural unlock, Brand X have teamed up with City of Sydney to run a beautiful looking creative studio opening early next year.  The City of Sydney Creatives Studios will include two large, double-height rehearsal spaces with sprung timber floors for performance artists, five soundproof recording studios for musos, production and editing suites for video whizzes, art studios and an honest to goodness apartment for artist in residence sojourns too. There will also be a café downstairs, and loads of offices, storage space and dressing rooms too. Creatives can register their interest here.  “It has long been a priority to increase centrally located, affordable space for our artists and creatives,” lord mayor Clover Moore says. “This five-storey venue will accommodate creatives in the heart of the city, and help the sector’s recovery from the devastating effects of the pandemic. The spaces are designed for a variety of artistic disciplines and artists at different stages in their careers, and to encourage collaboration within our talented creative community.” Brand X director James Winter is psyched too. “We are energised at the prospect of delivering new, accessible opportunities for emerging and established artists to enable practice-based experimentation, creative development and production of new work.” Want to know more about arts venues reopening? Read the plan here.     

'Hamilton', theatres, cinemas, art galleries and more are about to reopen in Sydney

'Hamilton', theatres, cinemas, art galleries and more are about to reopen in Sydney

Sydneysiders who have been fully vaccinated will be able to return to cinemas, theatres and live music venues, art galleries, museums and more once the state hits the 70 per cent double dose target. Once this key vaccination level is reached, NSW's lockdown will begin to lift from October 11. However, those who choose to remain unvaccinated will have to wait a little longer to re-join the city’s cultural life. Anyone deliberately dodging the jab without a medical excemption will not be allowed to enter any arts venue until December 1, when it’s expected NSW will have more than 90 per cent double dosed in the community at large. Even after that date, it will be up to individual venues if they are comfortable welcoming unvaccinated patrons. It’s incredible news for the arts community, with the majority of venues completely out of action for many, many months over the last year and a half, unlike hospo venues which have at least managed to struggle on with takeaway options. It means that the major shows that hedged their bets by announcing reopening dates and putting tickets on sale have been vindicated, including Broadway smashes Hamilton, Come From Away and Jagged Little Pill. The BridgeClimb has also announced that they are raring to get folks stomping all over the world-famous harbour edifice once more. Expect many more cultural events to unlock the doors in the coming weeks. There will still be 75 per cent capacity limits on entertainment venues and masks will be mandatory

Sydney businesses are already announcing when they'll be reopening next month

Sydney businesses are already announcing when they'll be reopening next month

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been clear that NSW is preparing to reopen once the target of 70 per cent double vaccinated has been met, but there has been no official date put on that milestone. We’ll get there when we get there. That hasn’t stopped several of Sydney’s major attractions and hotels from declaring they are ready to roll in late October, with many predicting we’ll meet the official target on or around October 18. The big shows and destinations hedging their bets on this date include hit musical Come From Away, which is waiting in the wings at the Capitol Theatre and has started selling tickets from October 20. It's also the first major arts production in Australia to not only require theatregoers be fully vaccinated, but also its cast and crew. Producer Rodney Rigby said they were outing their faith in NSW residents getting double jabbed, allowing live performances to reboot. “Across the world, vaccination is proving to be an effective way of getting fans safely back into the theatre and we cannot wait to welcome audiences back soon.” The world-famous BridgeClimb across Sydney's iconic Coathanger has announced October 22 as the date it hopes to begin re-harnessing brave souls after the best views of the city. They’re hoping to coax back climbers by offering post-climb drinks vouchers for the Glenmore for the first 200 customers to book in. “It’s time for Sydneysiders to celebrate,” BridgeClimb CEO David Hammon said. “This is going to be a summer like no other f

'Come From Away' planning to reopen October 20, but only for fully vaccinated

'Come From Away' planning to reopen October 20, but only for fully vaccinated

The producers of Tony and Olivier award-winning musical Come From Away have announced the show will reopen to live audiences on October 20, assuming the roadmap to lifting lockdown once 70 per cent of adults over 16 are fully vaccinated remains on track. According to the NSW government’s roadmap as it stands, they’ll be able to welcome audiences back to the Capitol Theatre at 75 per cent capacity, with tickets already on sale now, through to November 28. However, the NSW government has not officially confirmed the date from which businesses can reopen, only that this date will be the first Monday after the 70 per cent vaccination target is reached. Rodney Rigby of Newtheatricals produces the show – set in the aftermath of 9/11 when flights from across the US were diverted to a tiny Canadian community – in collaboration with Junkyard Dog Productions. In a sign of the times, they have mandated that all audience members must be able to prove they are fully vaccinated in order to enter the Capitol. He said they wanted to lead by example. “Across the world, vaccination is proving to be an effective way of getting fans safely back into the theatre and we cannot wait to welcome audiences back soon.” The policy of all cast and crew being required to be vaccinated has been widely embraced on Broadway in New York and in London’s West End, and gives us an idea of how theatres are likely to work once they reopen. Previously, casts have protected themselves from possible infection by livi

Three major touring giants are offering a year of free gigs for the fully vaxxed

Three major touring giants are offering a year of free gigs for the fully vaxxed

As Sydney gears up to unlock, three of Australia’s biggest live music tour promoters stand ready to unleash an avalanche of major stars returning to our harbourside city’s coolest venues. Massive names like Lorde, Snoop Dogg, Alanis Morissette, the Backstreet, the DMAs and the Kid Laroi. The thing is, though, if you want to be back in the presumably socially distant mosh when that happens, you’re gonna need to get double vaccinated. Frontier Touring, Live Nation and TEG has banded together to help the push for Australia to get jabbed, get back out there and get in amongst stadium rock one again. Favouring the carrot, rather than the stick, approach, they’ve launched a cool competition dubbed Vaxstage Pass. Open to all Aussie residents aged 18-plus, head over the Vaxstage Pass site to sign up. You’ll have to be fully vaxxed and able to prove so via the Medicare COVID-19 Digital Certificate, by the time the comp closes on November 30, and then share, in under 25 words, which live gig you’re most looking forward to. And the prize is pretty outstanding. Five winners will get double passes to each gig hosted by Frontier Touring, Live Nation or TEG for the whole of next year. Wowzas. Get jabbed, get in, get on it. Love live music? Stream a global gig featuring Kylie, Delta Goodrem, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo, Billie Eilish and more.

5 big questions we have from the Matrix 4 trailer

5 big questions we have from the Matrix 4 trailer

Way back in 1998, a trippy dystopian movie about humanity being stuck unawares in an online world (no, not in an endless Zoom meeting) was shot almost entirely in Sydney’s Fox Studios. That film was The Matrix, and it would set the world on fire when it was released the following year. It pitted Keanu Reeves’ newly red-pill awoken saviour, computer hacker Neo, against malevolent machines personified by sharp-suited local hero and on-screen villain, Hugo Weaving, as the nihilistic Mr Smith. While two big screen sequels dropped in 2003 – The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions – they never quite lived up to the hype, although the spectacular fight sequences boosted by slow-motion ‘bullet time’ ensured the trilogy’s place in the pantheon of sci-fi excellence. So let’s just say the first trailer drop for the long-awaited fourth installment, The Matrix Resurrections, just blew up the internet. So what did we learn? Well, as with most teaser trailers, not a whole lot. But questions, we have a few… Neo is back? Look, this is hardly revelatory, given we’ve known about Reeves’s involvement since the fourth live-action film was announced, but is this the flying, bullet-dodging, leather trenchcoat-clad demigod we know and love? In the trailer, we see Reeves as Thomas Anderson (his name in the ‘real’ world) in therapy with Neil Patrick Harris. But just to be clear, Neo very definitely died in a heroic sacrifice for all of humanity at the end of Revolutions. Or did he? The whole pr

"Vast amounts" of regional NSW will come out of lockdown on Saturday

"Vast amounts" of regional NSW will come out of lockdown on Saturday

"Vast amounts of the regions" will come out of lockdown on Saturday, September 11, the deputy premier John Barilaro has announced. Areas that have not recorded any cases for at least 14 days and are deemed low risk will enjoy new freedoms from 12:01am. However, significant restrictions will still remain in place, to balance both the economic and health concerns. Barilaro said that, “The mid-north coast, to the north coast, to the northwest, Aubrey to Riverina and the Murrumbidgee areas will open.” He then added that, “The southern part, southeast, the Illawarra Shoalhaven area, the Hunter region, Central Coast out to the Central West parts of the far west won’t open today.” He said that the decision on where would and would not open was based on health parameters and protecting regional NSW, acknowledging that it would be, “a bittersweet day for the regions.” However, he said that the partial unlock, “gives a level of hope and light at the end of this tunnel, the long winter, and it gives us an opportunity to come together and know that it is worth fighting for.” Barilaro stressed the continuing importance of vaccination statewide and cautioned that significant restrictions would remain in place in the areas opening up and that just one case could send those communities back into lockdown for 14 days.  As of Saturday, the regional areas that do open would see hotels, cafes and restaurants, retail and workplaces reopen, but with capacity restrictions and the four square metre

Brilliant artist Scott Marsh has done it again with this Bob Hawke mural

Brilliant artist Scott Marsh has done it again with this Bob Hawke mural

Ever on the pulse with his politically charged, properly beautiful murals, Future Shaper Scottie Marsh has done it again. The guerilla graffiti artist is ever-ready to use his portraiture power for good, and this time he’s teamed up with his new Marrickville neighbours, Hawke’s Brewing Co., to create a likeness of our most famously boozy Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. Marsh has depicted the man who once declared that, “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum,” after Australia won the America’s Cup in 1983 with his ‘race you to the pub’ t-shirt pulled up, bandage on arm, mid-pour pint in hand on the one wall of the brewery. The artwork is topped off with the slogan: “Every jab gets us closer to the pub,” in clear support of Sydney’s sterling vaccination drive efforts. Hawke’s band-aid is printed with a QR code that directs you to a website where you can find your nearest vaccine clinic. You can even buy his t-shirt from the brewery’s merch site, with $5 from every tee donated to hospo relief charity @tipjarfund. On his Instagram post featuring the new mural, Marsh said, “Absolute pleasure teaming up with the legends @hawkesbrewingco at their new brewery. I’ll be filling up Bob’s schooner as we hit vaccination targets so go get your jab and let’s open this bitch up.” This sentiment was mirrored by the brewery too. “The message is simple – EVERY jab gets us closer to the pub. The sooner we hit 80 per cent, the sooner vulnerable businesses (like your favourite pub

Sydney Dance Company adds livestream lessons to its online offering

Sydney Dance Company adds livestream lessons to its online offering

Sydney Dance Company’s (SDC) library of digital lessons, Classes on Demand, has proven so wildly popular that the company has added a livestream component to the mix. Lockdown Livestream Class beams live Monday to Friday at 6pm, and twice on Saturdays, at 10am and 11.30am. Including ballet lessons at various levels, beginners jazz and tune-up body conditioning classes amongst others, there are several options to try, whatever stage of coordination you’re at. If you sign up for the Classes on Demand service, which will set you back $29.95 a month, $79.95 for three, or $199 for the year, the livestream classes are free. If you want to join them without signing up, classes are $12 a pop. You can sign up here. It doesn’t even matter if you’re dead set on becoming a dancer, the classes are just as cool for workout routines, or to have a bit of a giggle at your totally un-co ways while sinking wine of a Friday night. The on-demand classes were pre-recorded at SDC’s Wharf Studios, nestled under the Harbour Bridge.  Meanwhile, the livestream classes are a brilliant way to interact with SDC’s world class company members – including Mia Thompson, Rhys Kosakowski, Jacopo Grabar and Dean Elliot – leading the lessons. You can also enjoy the community spirit, joining in online with a bunch of fellow Sydneysiders riding out lockdown. It’s a great way to soothe any stress, says Rafael Bonachela, SDC’s artistic director: “Dance is the perfect way to maintain your physical and mental health wh

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