Head to the beach this winter, to immerse yourself in a feast of indie theatre, comedy and cabaret
Five editions in, Bondi Feast is looking a lot like Sydney’s “unofficial Fringe”: a curated festival of new independent work, unusual work, boundary-breaking work and experiments – all for the kind of price point where you the viewer can also afford to take risks.
Having started as a project of Tamarama Rock Surfers (the now-defunct independent theatre company) in 2012, and after taking a year off in 2016, Bondi Feast is returning this year under the auspices of Waverley Council – and co-curated by founder, theatre-maker and Story Club regular Phil Spencer, with theatre maker Rachel Chant.
Looking back across six years, Spencer sees an evolution from a theatre-focused festival into a more diverse program that includes cabaret and comedy. This year, around 30 shows were selected from more than 70 submissions – more than Spencer expected, and the highest calibre for Bondi Feast so far: “Obviously there’s a gap in the Sydney scene,” he says.
In addition, Chant and Spencer invited a number of artists and shows they’d seen and loved (from the Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne Fringes, and elsewhere), including Melbourne comedian Tessa Waters, who will do a retrospective of her three shows; Demi Lardner, who will reprise her award-winning Melbourne Comedy Festival show Look What You’ve Made Me Do; Sami Shah reprising his show The Islamic Republic of Australia; and the hit Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe double bill Wank Bank and Pussy Play – a surprising mix of sex positivity, interactive education and storytelling that has featured on comedian Luke McGregor’s ABC series Luke Warm Sex.
In terms of theatre, there’s a mix of existing works doing encores (nihilistic Internet melodrama They’ve Already Won, by Sydney theatre-makers Pierce Wilcox and Harriet Gillies; The Eternity of the World (Parts Missing), by Melbourne’s MKA Theatre) and brand-new works.
Punters hoping for a glimpse of theatre’s future should check out Caleb Lewis’s “post-apocalyptic walking tour”, Exclusion Zone. Lewis, a playwright and alumnus of Bondi Feast, has been studying a doctorate in game theory and performance. “He’s basically going to take the audience on an interactive performance walking tour around North Bondi,” says Spencer. “What better place to set a post-apocalyptic event than North Bondi in winter?”
See what else is on stage in Sydney in July.