Sydney Festival dance and theatre highlights

Here's your hit list of what to see at this year's festival
Home Sydney Festival 2019
Photograph: Jacques-Jean Tiziou
Advertising

Sydney Festival artistic director Wesley Enoch has a background making theatre, so it's no surprise that his line-up is packed with theatrical goodies. For his third Sydney Festival, Enoch is bringing in international theatrical heavyweights Complicite and Schaubühne Berlin with their collaboration, Beware of Pityand Geoff Sobelle's magical HomeLocal companies include Belvoir, which is taking over Sydney Town Hall with Counting and Cracking, and Legs on the Wall, who are bringing Man With The Iron Neck to the Opera House.

Recommended: How to score cheap theatre tickets in Sydney.

Beware of Pity Sydney Festival 2019
Photograph: Gianmarco Bresadola
Theatre, Drama

Beware of Pity

icon-location-pin Roslyn Packer Theatre, Millers Point
icon-calendar

It hasn’t been too long since Sydney Festival featured a show by UK company Complicite’s artistic director, 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.

Shanghai Mimi Sydney Festival 2019
Photograph: Yang Xiaohuo
Theatre, Circuses

Shanghai Mimi

icon-location-pin Riverside Theatres, Parramatta
icon-calendar

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. 

Advertising
Counting and Cracking Belvoir Sydney Festival 2019
Photograph: Daniel Boud and Malith Hegoda
Theatre, Drama

Counting and Cracking

icon-location-pin Sydney Town Hall, Sydney
icon-calendar

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.

Home Sydney Festival 2019
Photograph: Jacques-Jean Tiziou
Theatre, Drama

Home

icon-location-pin Roslyn Packer Theatre, Millers Point
icon-calendar

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. 

Time Out says
Advertising
Man with the Iron Neck Sydney Festival 2019
Photograph: Brett Boardman
Theatre

Man With The Iron Neck

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
icon-calendar

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. 

Pigalle Sydney Festival 2019
Photograph: Daniel Linnet
Theatre, Circuses

Pigalle

icon-location-pin Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Sydney
icon-calendar

If you saw Velvet, the popular disco-inspired circus-cabaret that toured Australia for several years, 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, sex shops, cabarets and adult shows.

Advertising
The Iliad Out Loud Sydney Festival 2019
Photograph: Hugh Hamilton
Theatre, Drama

The Iliad Out Loud

icon-location-pin Belvoir St Theatre, Surry Hills
icon-calendar

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? 

Since Ali Died - Omar Musa - Griffin Theatre - Batch Festival 2018 - photo by David Charles Collins
Photograph: David Charles Collins
Theatre

Since Ali Died

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
icon-calendar

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.

Time Out says
Advertising
Dance

One Infinity

icon-location-pin Carriageworks, Eveleigh
icon-calendar

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. 

Time Out says
Biladurang Sydney Festival 2019
Photograph: Pippa Samaya
Theatre, Drama

Biladurang

icon-location-pin QT Sydney, Sydney
icon-calendar

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.

Time Out says

Best of the rest

Sydney Festival 2017 Festival Village photo by Jamie Williams
Photograph: Jamie Williams
Things to do, Circuses

Sydney Festival

There’s no event as inextricably linked to summer in this city as Sydney Festival. The annual three-week event, running throughout January, always features an eclectic line-up of theatre, dance, circus, music, visual arts and talks.

Advertising