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For the month of January, the Western Broadwalk of the Sydney Opera House will be turned into a vintage carnival-themed pop-up bar and restaurant where you can chill out before and after shows. Summer Playground will kick off every day from 10am with carnival games for kids, and it’ll run late into the evening for outdoor dining with a killer view. There’ll be musicians and other performers, as well as themed food from the bar. Inside the House, see the smash-hit cabaret Club Swizzle, the French hipster circus Barbu, chaotic kids cabaret The Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party and the world-premiere of Circus 1903. Family shows include George’s Marvellous Medicine, Emily Brown and the Thing and the brand new Deadly 60 show.
In summer, if we're not living in swimwear, we're in activewear. Whether you're walking the Bondi to Coogee coast path or having brunch with friends in the city, those Lycra leggings seem to fit every purpose – which is why we're spending more money on buying better quality sports kit that looks just as good as streetwear. P.E Nation is the homegrown activewear label by Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning, who've worked for fashion labels like Sass+Bide and Ksubi. Their street-style collection includes bold colours, panelled designs and retro fits. And they're a big hit on Instagram. P.E Nation have opened a pop-up store, running until the end of January, at Westfield Bondi Junction. You'll find it at level 4, up from Topshop, and cofounders Edwards and Tregoning will be in store for a meet-and-greet on December 8 & 15 from 6-8pm. They'll personally help customers shop for pieces and give advice on styles.
Visitors to the most recent Dark Mofo festival in Tasmania will have encountered the confusing, claustrophobic labyrinth of endless mirrors at the Museum of Old and New Art. Now, you can find extravagant installation outside the Meriton Festival Village at Sydney Festival. It's $10 to enter and you can only buy tickets at the venue – which is actually a good thing. It means you can be a little spontaneous and visit after one of the shows like the Hair Salon or Soul of Sydney. Navigating this maze of mirrors and optical illusions is especially fun after dark, which is why it's open from 4.30pm till 11. And the experience is ever more disorienting if you've had a few cocktails beforehand. On Time Out's visit we were told it's possible to complete the maze in 60 seconds – but where's the fun in that? Our tips are to spend a bit of time playing with the illusions, then to stumble around until you creep yourself or your companions out, before finding your way back out again. In our experience, you haven't truly survived the House of Mirrors until you've jumped out of your skin – spooked by your own reflection.
As we stand contemplating Zhang Dali’s hanging installation of human ‘carcasses’ in the foyer of White Rabbit Gallery, a young couple enters the building and one of them exclaims “What the f*ck is that!?” – laughing, slightly incredulous. And the sight IS incredible: 30 figures trussed and hanging from the four-storey high ceiling as if they were in a butcher’s shop. Zhang, a former graffiti artist based in Beijing, paid 30 immigrant workers $50 (the equivalent of a week’s wages) to be covered in plaster (with only breathing tubes sticking out) to make ‘Chinese Offspring’ (2005), which seeks to draw attention to plight of hundreds of thousands of rural migrants who flock to China’s cities each year seeking work. These migrant workers not only face social prejudice, they are prevented by the hukou (household registration) system from accessing public services, and are at the mercy of a fickle job market and often unregulated work conditions. Vile Bodies is themed around the idea that the “fantastic beasts” of Chinese mythology have been replaced by very real “monsters” created by the country’s scientific, social, political and environmental experiments. Across 4 levels and 30 works, 22 Chinese artists conjure dystopian futures and biological experiments, subvert conventions of beauty, depict actual vile bodies (a praying mantis with two penis tips collaged onto its eyes is a highlight, by which we mean a low-light), and explore the ways in which we construct groups of peop
If you were in Sydney in January, you’d have seen the Flaming Lips play a free concert in the Domain, built a giant cardboard tower in Darling Harbour, watched ferries race under the Harbour Bridge and you’d have ridden a flying fox at Barangaroo – all thanks to Sydney Festival. The annual cultural celebration is the big one on Sydney’s summer must-do list, and the festival’s contemporary programming always manages to surprise. Events take place across Sydney and Parramatta, attracting an audience of over 500,000 each year. Check out our top ten picks of the 2017 Sydney Festival program.
Join the Sunday afternoon dance party at Sydney Festival’s entertainment hub in Hyde Park. Soul of Sydney are an independent, grassroots collective who love to dance to funk and soul music – and they’re one of the friendliest party starters you’ll ever meet. Hang out on the grass or hop up on stage for a boogie in the sunshine as the Soul of Sydney DJs unearth gems from Afrobeat, New York disco, Chicago house and ’90s hip-hop.
The Little Darlings Night Owls Film Festival has free family movies for all ages as well as superhero flicks this January. The big screen will show 26 feature films and 17 short films presented by Little Big Shots (Australia’s major children’s short film festival), as well as provide entertainment each night from 6.30pm. The line-up includes Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootopia and Pan. Plus, for older kids, there’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Wolverine, Iron Man 3, Thor 2: The Dark World, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Click through to the Dates and Times tab for the full line-up.
Great Caesar, a woman? Yes, in Sport For Jove’s surprisingly successful experiment, not only is the assassinated Roman Emperor female, so are the key conspirators Cassius and Casca, her successor Augustus, and various others. But the most important character in the historical tragedy (which Shakespeare might better have named Marcus Brutus) remains male, played by co-director Damien Ryan, who does the thoughtful murderer-friend rather well. Our attention is inevitably drawn towards sexual politics by the dozens of familiar lines where “she” is substituted for “he", and a few the other way. Less comfortable is changing “man" when Mark Antony addresses Caesar’s bleeding corpse with: "Thou art the ruins of the noblest man / that ever livèd in the tide of times.” Oddest-sounding is Caesar’s fear of Cassius, originally “Let me have men about me that are fat.” But often the pronoun toggling actually ends up illuminating humanity rather than gender differences: the grievances yelled on the battlefield between Brutus and Cassius might immediately sound like a lover’s tiff, but to anyone who can hear beneath the sword-rattling, it always was. A similar result flows from the superb interleaving of two separate but analogous scenes: Caesar’s husband’s attempts to persuade her to chuck a sickie on the Ides of March holiday, and Brutus’s wife’s attempts to persuade him to tell her what he’s really planning to do in the morning. We see clearly that their behaviours follow from the spous
As part of Sydney Festival, dancers from Sydney Dance Company will perform in the buff amongst the artworks of Nude: Art for the Tate Collection. Artistic director Rafael Bonachela has created choreography that responds to works by Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Henri Matisse and Louise Bourgeois, among others. Associate artists Dave Mack, Fiona Jopp, Marlo Benjamin, Olivia Kingston, Zachary Lopez, Oliver Savariego and Izzac Carroll will perform in the piece.
At an age when most Australian teens are contemplating nothing more stressful than the HSC, Future D. Fidel escaped war-torn Congo into Tanzania and spent eight years in a refugee camp searching for his sister, before finally being accepted as a refugee in Australia. His story is nothing if not incredible, and riveting. But what is truly impressive about Prize Fighter, Fidel’s mostly autobiographical first play, is what a good piece of theatre it is in its own right. Set in a boxing ring, where every punch is a portal to a blood-soaked memory of civil war, the conceit of the play might be simple, but it is perfectly formed in every way. At its centre is 16-year-old Isa Alaki (Pachero Mzembe), a recently arrived Congolese refugee training at a Brisbane gym for a shot at the title. Taken under the wing of gym owner Luke (Margi Brown-Ash), Isa has the raw talent needed to succeed. But while he can demolish his enemies in the ring without too much trouble, he is less successful at ignoring the memories that ambush him at every turn – of seeing his father and sister killed in front of him; of being coerced on fear of death to join the band of child soldiers that shot them. From the first few moments of the piece, when Isa’s violent instincts spill over disastrously during a match, the punches – both physical and emotional – come quick and fast, and don’t let up for the entirety of the power-packed but tightly controlled 70-minute show. Fidel’s script is frequently harrowing an
Roald Dahl’s 1981 book about a boy and his experimental potion is hitting the Opera House stage this summer. George, aged eight, creates a magical elixir using household ingredients in an attempt to rid himself of his grandmother’s constant nagging. He slips the medicine into her tea hoping it will transform his grandmother’s temperament but the most absurd events ensue. As it’s Dahl, the story is darker and more subversive than the average – kids will love it – and comes with the warning: do not try this at home. This show is recommended for ages six and up.
If you suspect an all-boy burlesque troupe’s act would be riddled with dick jokes, Briefs will not disappoint you. Sold as ‘Cirque du Soleil meets RuPaul’s Drag Race’, this has more Peters than the board of an ASX 200 company. The rollicking 75 minute show – which ran for more like 105 minutes on opening night – follows a classic revue format: a bit of drag here, an acrobatics act there, and some intensely sexual clowning. But the best bits of the show combine all three. Those who’ve been raised on a filthy and fabulous diet of John Waters and ball culture will find plenty of easter eggs. In one of the night’s most memorable sketches a classic drag walk is given a doggie twist, when acrobats in canine masks accompany their three owners (Dallas Dellaforce serving aristo-Lady Gaga, Fez Fa’anana doing fly girl realness and Captain Kidd in bizarre Gold Coast cashed up bogan regalia) on stage, before performing a series of pulse-quickening hoop jumps. If you think a queen and a dog is the Chekhov's gun of drag, then the third act of this bit will not disappoint you. If you haven’t seen Pink Flamingos then you’re in for a very rude shock. As an MC, Fez Fa’anana is appealingly vulnerable. Between teaching the audience sassy hand gestures and throwing shade on Ipswitch, she engages just enough with class, race and gender politics to remind us that drag’s rapier wit has always been deployed as a self-defence mechanism. Whatever Peter Cook had to say about the efficacy of “those won
In August last year, The Australian ran a cartoon by Bill Leak that represented a sickeningly dominant cultural narrative about Indigenous fathers as drunk, neglectful, and dismissive. There was public outcry after the cartoon was published, but Leak’s central conceit still made it into a national newspaper and was roundly defended by its creator and the publisher. Australia can be damningly, casually racist, particularly when its white population is allowed to speak – with authority – for other cultures. All the more reason to get along to Which Way Home, Katie Beckett’s 2016 father-daughter road-trip play, having its Sydney premiere at Belvoir for Sydney Festival. Beckett, who won the 2015 Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award, said she wrote the play both as a love letter to her father and to provide audiences with a story of an Indigenous dad as a positive role model. With those twin strands at the core of its DNA, Which Way Home feels as safe and generous as a tight hug from a loved one. Tash (played by Beckett) has come to collect her father (Tony Briggs), for a road trip back to his home country, from Queensland down past Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. They’re playful – Tash tries to stop her diabetic father from eating too many snacks, while he teases her about her boyfriend – but they clearly think the world of each other. While the drama is ostensibly tied to the interior of a car (barring rest stops) director Rachael Maza keeps the play kinet
Head into the Festival Village at Hyde Park and you’ll be entertained with fabulous personalities and free music and circus performances on the main stage. Running almost every night of the festival is the Hair Salon – a family-friendly variety show of cabaret, wild hair dos and disco. There’ll be soul, funk and Latin bands (see Dates & Times tab for details), comedian Bob Downe will be cracking jokes, Spanish hair sculptors Osadia will be making art of audience members’ hair, and acrobats will be twisting, flipping and spinning all over the stage.
When we think of the smell of Sydney in summer, perhaps it's sea breezes, sunscreen, gum trees, hot chips; this exhibition, however, will seek to create an olfactory portrait of the city's landscape, politics and social vibe. Sydney artist Cat Jones has devised this project based on her award-winning 2015 olfactory installation Century's Breath. As with that work, Jones created her ten signature scents of Sydney by talking to its inhabitants,with each interviewee getting a scent of their own. To achieve a diversity of voices, Jones devised a line-up that includes scientist and Aboriginal elder Auntie Frances Bodkin, veteran documentarian Pat Fiske, and young Walkley-nominated journalist Patrick Abboud (The Feed, SBS). Each of the ten 'scents of Sydney' fall within one of five key themes (or 'base notes') identified by Jones: Competition, Democracy, Extravagance, Landscape and Resistance. The idea of the installation is that you listen to the interviews in conjunction with sampling the smells inspired by them, taking time to reflect on the identity of the city you live in. A series of talks will be held as part of the Scent of Sydney exhibition on January 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 & 25 from 6pm-7pm.
The brainchild of Brett Haylock, the creative producer of La Soirée (and its antecedent La Clique), Club Swizzle has many of the same alt-cabaret ingredients: sex, comedy and skill, served short and fast – but takes a bar as its setting and theme. A counter-top bar serves as a stage during the show, but serves cocktails, champers and wine pre-show and during the interval. The result is a rowdy, boozy, bent atmosphere. The host is downtown New York’s neo-burlesque ringmaster Murray Hill – who in the show's debut season proved himself to be adorable, charming and dirty-minded. There’s also a live band – ARIA award-winner Mikey Lira and The Night Caps – and a resident diva, and three bar-tending acrobats who sweat (possibly vodka) and strut and strive for your applause. Premiering in January 2015 in Sydney Opera House's Studio, Club Swizzle went on to extend its Sydney season by 6 weeks and take the show on the road to Adelaide and Brisbane. It's back in in Sydney Opera House's Studio with some of the same cast – including London alt-cabaret sensation Laurie Hagan – and some newcomers, including physical comedian Amy G, and dapper-AF song-and-dance man Dandy Wellington.
Treat yourself to a night of fine dining as you take a seat on one of the best vantage points of Sydney Harbour. Hosted by The Deck restaurant at Milsons Point, the Ferris Wheel Dining Experience invites you and a special someone to your own private carriage that’ll take you on a magical ride around Luna Park’s famous ferris wheel. Begin the night at The Deck with an amuse-bouche and a glass of Loire Valley sparkling Vouvray before being escorted to your private carriage. Once seated, you’ll be treated to a selection of The Deck’s finest entrées, mains and desserts – not to mention specially matched hand-selected wines by The Deck’s executive chef, Michael Roper. Expect freshly shucked Sydney Rock oysters, grape tomato panna cotta, foie gras terrine and kingfish carpaccio for your entree; grilled black Berkshire pork cutlet or fresh gold band snapper and WA lobster primavera for your main, plus a selection of mouth-watering sweets for dessert. Enjoy Australian and international wines including Janz Late Disgorged Vintage Cuvee 2007, Wirra Wirra the Absconder Grenache 2015, sweet Italian Alasia DOCG Moscato D’asti 2014, and many more dependent on your taste. Carriages for two cost $399.
Sunday Sundown returns for another summer of free live music at dusk. This year, they’ve got a phenomenal line-up of 16 music events with 32 Australian artists that'll be gracing the stages of both the north and east of Sydney at The Newport and the Coogee Pavilion. Expect tunes from Aussie hip-hop artist Tuka, 2016 J Award nominees Montaigne, Kuren and Ngaiire, dance music star Nina Las Vegas, Generik, Dom Dolla, Noah Slee and more. There’ll be massive New Year’s Day and Australia Day celebrations at both venues with PNAU (DJ set) and Jarryd James performing on January 1 and Luke Million and the Bamboos performing on January 26.
Siro-A are bringing their multi-award winning theatre show to Australia for the first time. Hailing from Japan, the internationally acclaimed performance group are putting on a family friendly show that features visual effects, mime, dance, comedy and puppetry. The show is divided into short visual sketches and is set in front of a projection screen that uses video-mapping, light animation, laser effects, 3-D video projection and a live electro soundtrack. Siro-A formed in 2002. Six classmates from Sendai, Japan, wanted to create the next generation of entertainment that existed outside the boundaries of conventional theatre and performance art.
Fort Denison Restaurant is bringing back its popular sunset sessions on Friday and Sunday nights in summer. The island dining experience offers some of the best views in this city, from the Harbour Bridge to Sydney Opera House. Tickets cost $105 for dinner on the island, which includes return water taxis from Circular Quay to the historic fortress. You’ll be treated to a two-course menu of dishes like crisp skin barramundi, roast Hunter Valley pork belly, Wagyu beef cheeks or Muscovy duck breasts. Sunset sessions include live music entertainment, the National Parks entry fee and mini tour of the Martello Tower.