Top 20 picks of Sydney Festival 2019
It hasn’t been too long since Sydney Festival featured a show by Simon McBurney. His five-star production of The Encounter, which landed here in 2017, used an extraordinary three-dimensional sound design to make the one-man show feel like it had a cast of hundreds. Now he’s back with a genuine ensemble piece.
Moira Finucane is Australia’s unofficial queen of burlesque, but she’s turning her attention to Asia for this show and drawing inspiration from Shanghai in the 1930s, when it was arguably at its most culturally revolutionary.
Counting and Cracking is an epic new play that will have its premiere as part of Sydney Festival. It brings together 16 actors from five countries to tell a story of Australia today. Belvoir is moving out from its Surry Hills home for January to take over Sydney Town Hall, transforming it into a Sri Lankan town hall.
American theatre-maker and illusionist Geoff Sobelle was last seen in Australia in 2016, when he brought hundreds of cardboard boxes to Sydney Festival in The Object Lesson. In that show, he conjured up stories and worlds from the boxes and the items within them, but in Home he performs an even greater miracle: he brings an entire two-storey house to life before our eyes.
Legs on the Wall always makes visually stunning theatre, often combining aerial performance with more traditional storytelling. Man With the Iron Neck is the company’s latest work and features a script by the brilliant Ursula Yovich about a young man who loses his best friend to suicide.
For many people, their greatest memories of Sydney Festival are those unexpected moments of joy as they interact with an artwork on their way to or from a ticketed event. This year, the big, free art installation that’ll bring you that magic moment is ‘Moon Drops’ – a giant waterbed that you can walk, jump and clamber over to experience the feeling of weightlessness.
One of the best things a festival can do is make you look at a city, and the spaces within it, in a slightly different light. That’s exactly what happens in Australian dancer Joel Bray’s Biladurang, in which he invites a group of around 16 people into his suite for a glass of bubbles and some rather intimate confessions.
If you saw Velvet, the popular disco-inspired circus-cabaret, you’ll have some idea of what to expect from this new show. Like Velvet, it stars Marcia Hines, is set vaguely in the 1970s, and is directed by Craig Ilott. But this new show is inspired by Quartier Pigalle, a neighbourhood in Paris famous for its eccentric nightlife.
Our every movement, our smiles, our frowns, our expressions of surprise are learned by mirroring; watching One Infinity, former Chunky Move director Gideon Obarzanek’s new work with the Jun Tian Fang Music Ensemble, the audience is asked to not only consider, but put into practice the commonplace adage that to mirror is to learn.
The phrase “always was, always will be Aboriginal land” has long been an important slogan for the Aboriginal land rights and sovereignty movement. Bangarra Dance Theatre’s designer-in-residence Jacob Nash is creating an artwork that refers to that slogan for Sydney Festival.
Bayala translates to ‘speak’ in Darug – one of the first languages spoken in the Sydney area. Sydney Festival first introduced free Indigenous language classes as part of its program in 2017 to celebrate the Aboriginal heritage of our city, and this year they’re continuing that commitment with classes in Parramatta, Sydney CBD and Ultimo.
You can hear Seattle cellist Lori Goldston fill the corners of Seidler Penthouse; listen on as Australian pianist Elena Kats-Chernin plays within the confines of Harry and Penelope Seidler House; or submerge yourself in the swimming pool at Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre to let Los Angeles harpist Mary Lattimore’s music wash over you.
Shh! Dance like no librarians are watching in this Friday night silent disco in the State Library’s newly refurbished (and licensed) galleries. Sydney Festival is putting on a boogie between the bookshelves for all ages.
Look, it’s time you faced it. You’re never going to read The Iliad. Between the six seasons of Orange is the New Black available on Netflix and Game of Thrones, you’ve got better things to do with your time. But what about if you could experience all of it in one fell swoop, and have it delivered to you in a theatrical setting?
American artist Nick Cave – not to be confused with the Australian singer-songwriter – is bringing 16,000 wind spinners, 24 chandeliers, 10 miles of crystals, thousands of ceramic birds and one crocodile to Sydney.
The Art Gallery of NSW’s big summer show this year is a brilliant journey through the evolution of modern art, featuring paintings from European masters including Picasso, Matisse and Monet. It’s an absolute treat for the eyes with these boldly evolving modern styles all jutting up against each other in the space of one gallery.
Le Gateau Chocolat is a favourite in festival spiegeltents and will be making his return to Sydney with this show, which premiered in London in 2016.
Soda_Jerk's latest film splices together classic pieces of Australian cinema into a political revenge fable that challenges Australian mythology. Expect to see Pauline Hanson alongside the characters of Mad Max while the voice of John Howard rings out across the desert.
It was more than four decades ago that journalist and anti-development activist Juanita Nielsen disappeared from the streets of Sydney. Nobody knows exactly what happened to her, but it’s believed she met a violent end due to her opposition to the development of Victoria Street, where tenants were being evicted to make way for more apartment blocks.
Rapper/poet Omar Musa’s new work places his hero and icon, Muhammad Ali, as a touchstone in the centre of the piece. From his interaction with Ali’s legacy spins the stories of Musa’s life, which hasn’t been the same since Ali died. He tells these as a mixture of song and spoken word, rap and banter.