Autumn has well and truly settled in, but the fourth month of the year has its seasonal highlights to keep us entertained. There’s LOLs aplenty at the annual Comedy Festival, cute animals and fairground rides at the Royal Easter Show and school holidays keep parents on their toes. Plus, it's ANZAC Day, so you'll want to know where to play two-up, and most of us get four days off over Easter, so it's the perfect time for a short getaway.
April's biggest events
The National, a collaborative venture between AGNSW, MCA and Carriageworks, will take place across the three major institutions, focusing on site-specific new commissions by contemporary Australian artists. The National is envisioned to take place in three editions: 2017, 2019 and 2021 – alternating with Sydney's other major art festival the Biennale of Sydney.
It’s set in an ultra-modern Darlinghurst apartment (designed by Marg Horwell) belonging to middle-aged flirt Warren (Simon Burke) and Kim (Simon Corfield), a younger gender studies academic. Warren is a symbol of modern gay affluence: a home-owner who has made a comfortable living for himself as editor of The Daily Bulge, holding ‘photo shoots’ on the side where he casually hits on and hooks up with young models.
Australian Ballet’s new triple bill, Faster, takes as its overriding theme the idea of the human body as an excellence machine; it explores the point at which organisms reach heights of perfection, and the ways in which a pursuit of personal excellence might contribute to a subsequent lack of connectivity. The result is a triple bill of almost uncanny resonances, of echoes and counter arguments. In short, it makes a complex whole out of disparate and conflicting parts.
The Ritz in Randwick is one of Sydney's true architectural gems, built in 1937 and one of only two Art Deco cinemas left in Sydney. A visit here can bring lustre to any film. To mark the 80th birthday of the Ritz, they have programmed a season of nine all-time Hollywood greats spanning 1939 to 1967, all of them digitally restored and all of them must-sees for everyone who loves movies.
Is there anything Kate Mulvany can’t do? If she’s not wowing audiences across town as the hunchbacked king in Bell Shakespeare’s gender-bending Richard III, she’s lending her writing chops to another historical badass in The Rasputin Affair. This production, directed by John Sheedy, features John Gaden, Tom Budge (Endgame), Zindzi Okenyo (Disgraced) and Hamish Michael (Janet King) as a bunch of inept assassins plotting to take out the mad monk in 1917 St Petersburg. As Mulvany says, “When you’re starting with pink cupcakes and ending with the death of one of the biggest tyrants in Russian history, you know you’re in for a rollicking ride.”
Rising Minds is a global think-tank and free monthly talk series that currently has outposts in London, New York and Toronto. Australian founder Drew Smith, who previously ran Creative Mornings in London, says bringing the series to Sydney is a sort of like a “homecoming” for him. he talks aim to stimulate debate, share ideas and ruminate on the futures of business, technology and culture, and where these three pillars intersect.
Many know of the tragic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD that buried the Italian cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum under volcanic ash and debris. The cities and their residents were preserved for almost 2,000 years under the Earth’s surface, and have since become tourist destinations in their own right. But it's a little-known story of bravery that will soon take centre stage in an upcoming exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Luna Park: not the quietest place in Sydney for an open-air cinema event, right? Never fear – at Luna Park Rooftop Cinema all audience members will be issued with noise-cancelling wireless headphones. A blanket to snuggle under can be hired for $5. And just think of the Sydney Harbour views.
Premiering on London's West End in 2012, Alexander Dinelaris's musical version of The Bodyguard is based on the 1992 film starring your ’90s boyfriend Kevin Costner as an ex-Secret Service agent hired to protect a superstar from her stalker, and Whitney Houston as the damsel-in-distress, Rachel Marron. It's coming to Australia in 2017 (thanks to producers Michael Harrison, David Ian and John Frost) with Fijian-born singer-songwriter and original Australian Idol Paulini making her theatrical debut in the role of Rachel Marron.
Monkey Baa Theatre Company is presenting Diary of a Wombat, a new Australian play based on the picture book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. Adapted for the stage by Monkey Baa’s creative directorate Eva Di Cesare, Sandra Eldridge and Tim McGarry, this live production will feature fun puppetry, a live cello score and an evoking set design.
Just an hour away from Sydney’s CBD, Dharawal National Park provides stunning scenery and an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Until recently, public access to the bushland was restricted, now you can enjoy guided tours of the park every second Saturday of the month. The 90-minute walks are designed for people of all fitness levels and there are options for children as well as wheelchair accessible tours. Guiding the way will be an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger who will share local knowledge about flora and fauna along the way, as well as Dreamtime stories that connect Indigenous Australians to the area.
Held at the Royal Randwick Racecourse every Sunday, the Fair Farmers Market will sell locally sourced and competitively priced produce from family farms. Helmed by fresh fruit and veggie company For Goodness Sake, the market will feature 50 stalls with a broad choice of sustainably sourced, ethically produced meat, seafood, eggs and dairy, including goods from Country Valley Diary, Jenny Brown’s free range eggs and Serendipity Ice Cream.
Opening ten days prior to Anzac Day is a free exhibition that follows the stories of Australia’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses in the First World War. The exhibition has been touring Australia for two years, appearing in 23 locations and visited by more than 300,000 people across the country. It features 200 artefacts from the Australian War Memorial commemorating the experiences of men and women who served during 1914 to 1918, including the last shell fired on Gallipoli.
The AnnanROMA Food and Wine Festival is a community event showcasing local food from restaurants in the Macarthur region. Held on Sunday April 2 at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, this year’s event marks the 10th birthday of this popular food and wine festival. This year's event will bring back ‘Eat Street’, a main avenue of delicacies stretching along the garden’s central circuit to the lakeside lawn, where guests can sit and relax to live music. Expect Italian pastries, cupcakes, Asian fusion and sliders, as well as beers, wines and margaritas. Vendors will include Orangeville Meat Co, Juicy Goose, Frank and Blance, Otis Bar & Grill and Embers Charcoal Kitchen.
If you're not aware of Andy Zaltzman, the short version is: he's like John Oliver, but with a ginger 'fro. In fact, they co-founded and co-hosted (until 2016) a satirical podcast together: The Bugle. If you want to hear his last Sydney show, Satirist for Hire, you can listen to it via The Bugle. His new show, Plan Z, sees him wax philosophical on the age of Trump and Brexit. He's also pretty keen on cricket so expect some sporting analogies.
First of all: OMG, they're soooo cute. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were just 11 years old when they starred in the first Harry Potter film for director Chris Columbus back in 2001 – and what they lacked in acting chops ("I'm [lengthy stilted pause]... a... a wizard?") they make up for in adorableness. The first movie is far from the worst of the series. In fact, it's got a lot to recommend it; for instance, the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore is authoritative and moving (sorry Michael Gambon, but he's the better Albus). So imagine the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in full flight playing the entire score for a high definition screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the Concert Hall of the Opera House. You'd be a muggle to miss it.
This annual prize is one of our favourites because of its unique curatorial model: one artist selects roughly 20 of their favourite artists; each of these then chooses one of their favourite emerging artists. The resulting 40-or-so-strong line-up is a great snapshot of the Australia-New Zealand art-scape.
Have you seen the 2014 Australian comedy The Little Death? No? Pity. Josh Lawson’s film is a daring, adult sex comedy exploring what happens when various suburban Aussies start to act on their fetishes. Back then, Time Out wrote that the film “deftly weaves together surreal scenarios into a constantly surprising package”. But moviegoers stayed at home – most likely because the words “erotic” and “Australian comedy” just don’t sit comfortably in the same sentence together. So it’s no shock to us that the movie has been remade, very successfully, in Spain.
As a child Chido Govera experienced more hardship than most of us can imagine. An orphan in rural Zimbabwe, she was responsible for the care of her brother and grandmother before experiencing horrific abuse at the hands of an uncle. At the age of 11, after turning down a marriage proposal, Govera turned adversary into triumph, starting a mushroom farm by cultivating local waste. That farm bloomed into a journey that has seen her teach over 1,000 orphans and young women how to create social and economic opportunities for themselves. The School of Life Australia will host Govera as she talks about what it means to have hope in the face of adversity and how individuals can take control of their own destiny, no matter the circumstances.
The Kings Cross Hotel is hosting its own new party, Uptown. Across three floors, local legends and party starters will be encouraging you to reclaim your Saturday nights at this weekly, dancefloor-friendly shindig. On the ground floor you'll find pop anthems, disco floor fillers and classic hip hop. On the breezy balcony DJs will be spinning yacht rock and relaxed pop gems. Finally the rooftop goes full whack into party mode, dishing out electronic, house and future pop beats. It all kicks off on April 1, and you'll find Uptown taking over the Kings Cross Hotel every Saturday evening from there on in.
A cloud hangs over White Rabbit’s foyer this autumn, a nebulous grey form by New York-based artist Lin Yan. Suspended from the ceiling by black strings (which she conceives of as rain), the piece is made from handmade ‘xuan’ paper – polluted with grey ink, tire tracks, brick rubbings and other vestiges of the industrial world. A smaller cloud form hands above it, almost at ceiling height; at the back of the foyer space hang long strips of pristine creamy-white xuan paper.
What's on stage this month
Language can be a minefield. As minority groups and progressives continue their fight for respect, they are “calling out” hurtful slurs and harmful stereotypes more publicly than ever before – especially online. On the conservative side, this is seen as a “PC gone mad” attack on traditional values and speech, led by “snowflakes”. It’s an exhausting, confusing time to be alive, with both sides yelling just as loudly at, and on top of, each other. Have we picked the right battles to fight? Declan Greene’s modern farce The Homosexuals tackles this landscape head-on from inside perhaps its most pressurised component: the queer community. It’s set in an ultra-modern Darlinghurst apartment (designed by Marg Horwell) belonging to middle-aged flirt Warren (Simon Burke) and Kim (Simon Corfield), a younger gender studies academic. Warren is a symbol of modern gay affluence: a home-owner who has made a comfortable living for himself as editor of The Daily Bulge, holding ‘photo shoots’ on the side where he casually hits on and hooks up with young models. We meet Lucasz (Lincoln Younes), the subject of one Warren’s latest photo shoots, early into the play, but Warren’s supposed to be giving up that particular gig now he and Kim are married. His night soon unravels: Kim returns home early after being cyberbullied for an accidental transphobic comment, so Lucasz must be hidden, and Warren must interview a “drag queen” (actually trans activist Bae Bae, played by genderqueer cabaret artis
Farce is a notoriously tricky thing to get right, but it’s never been harder to manage than in Terry Johnson’s wildly ambitious play, which teeters between humour one minute and horror the next. The year: 1938. The place: the genteel surrounds of Hampstead, London, where the ailing father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, has settled after fleeing Nazi Austria. Battling the end-stage jaw cancer that would eventually kill him, Freud (a very aged-up Jo Turner) is roused from a fitful slumber by a tapping on the French doors of his study. On the other side is a young woman, Jessica (Miranda Daughtry), soaked to the skin and demanding to see him. When he refuses, she threatens to slit her wrists with a cutthroat razor. When he refuses again, she strips and hides in a cupboard. Unable to be rid of her, he relents, she takes her place on his famous couch and the consultation begins. Except, as he soon discovers, what Jessica is after is not so much an explanation of her own demons but a re-enactment of those of his former patient, Rebecca S, some 30 years before. Complicating the situation further are two other arrivals: that of Spanish master surrealist, Salvador Dali (Michael McStay), come to pay homage to the only man he feels understands the unconscious as he does; and Freud’s friend and doctor Abraham Yahuda (Wendy Strehlow, cast gender-blind). Both soon become hopelessly embroiled in the drama unfolding in the study (set by Anna Gardiner). Johnson is commonly compared to f
A ghost story as well as a critique of the American involvement in Iraq, Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo is a tragicomedy seething with anguish, guilt and strange voices – the strangest being that of the play’s titular big cat. The springboard for Joseph’s story was a news item from 2003, a report about an American soldier who shot dead one of the Baghdad Zoo’s remaining tigers after it mauled a colleague who was attempting to feed it through the bars of its cage. The play begins with a fictionalised recreation of that scene. Present are two nervy grunts on night patrol, Kev (Josh Anderson) and Tom (Stephen Multari), and a gloomily philosophical and very hungry tiger, personified here by Maggie Dence. There is also a gold-plated pistol, a souvenir from the firefight in which Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed. In quick succession, Tom loses an arm, the tiger loses its life, and Kev scores the gun. But that’s not the end of it. This is a world where ghosts speak to the living, where monsters stalk palace gardens, where dreams turn to ashes, and where the lines between man and beast are blurred. The fallout from the tiger’s death consumes its participants in different ways. Kev, unstable to begin with, is utterly unhinged, convinced the tiger’s ghost is everywhere. Tom, now fitted with a prosthetic hand, becomes obsessed with the retrieval of his war booty, a mission that engulfs Musa (Andrew Lindqvist), a freelance translator and former to
In the immortal words of Boney M, religious charlatan (ra-ra) Rasputin “ruled the Russian land”. At the dawn of the 1900s, the Russian mystic had an unbelievable amount of influence in the court of Tsar Nicholas II, and a tonne of sexual dalliances of dubious consent with women across the country. He claimed he could heal young Alexei, the haemophiliac heir to the throne, and became extremely close with the boy’s mother, Tsarina Alexandra. When Tsar Nicholas II was away on the battlefield in 1915, it’s believed that Rasputin was essentially running the country. Enter, as our friends Boney M said, “some men of higher standing” with plans to assassinate. That’s where Kate Mulvany’s new high-energy comedy, The Rasputin Affair, begins: with three men of higher standing, a woman, and a cupcake full of cyanide. The three men are Felix (Tom Budge), Vlad (John Gaden), and Dimitri (Hamish Michael) – fictionalised versions of the Prince, Grand Duke and politician who together cooked up a plot to kill Rasputin in 1916. The woman is Minya (Zindzi Okenyo), who is both crucial to the murder business and also entirely fictional. Mulvany’s nobles are foppish and prone to hysteria. Felix is effete and immature; Dimitri is astonishingly self-important; and Vlad just wants to a) get the glory from the killing and b) eat the cupcake. Minya’s obedience only stretches so far; she comes when Felix rings the bell for her, but her sneer is never too far away. Her character takes a few twists an
When The Dog/The Cat opened in Belvoir’s Downstairs theatre in June 2015, it felt like a little ray of sunshine after months of programming that left this Belvoir regular feeling underwhelmed (Elektra/Orestes), disappointed (Mother Courage and her Children) and perplexed (The Wizard of Oz). By contrast, The Dog/The Cat, a playful double bill of 40-minute plays penned by Brendan Cowell and Lally Katz, felt like something conceived as a crowd-pleaser and delivered intact – a little love letter to theatregoers at a time when some were starting to think, “It’s not me, it’s you”. The critical reception was universally warm, the season quickly sold out, and extra dates were added – so reviving it for a run in the Upstairs Theatre must have been as close to a no-brainer as you can get in theatre programming, though not entirely without hazard. It’s a big stage to fill with a couple of light-hearted three-handers whose charm resided in their low budget production values and physical intimacy as much as the wit of the writing. Wisely, this re-up doesn’t add any additional bells and whistles complexity. It remains an uncomplicated pleasure. In The Dog, Cowell transports the audience to an off-leash park in Newtown, one frequented by Ben, a slovenly and borderline depressed screenwriter (Xavier Samuel), his contrastingly buttoned-up and optimistic housemate Marcus (Benedict Hardie), their terrier Jerry Seinfeld, and Miracle (Sheridan Harbridge), a dog-owning singleton and economic
Film events in April
Luna Park: not the quietest place in Sydney for an open-air cinema event, right? Never fear – at Luna Park Rooftop Cinema all audience members will be issued with noise-cancelling wireless headphones. A blanket to snuggle under can be hired for $5. And just think of the Sydney Harbour views. They will screen classic films, recent award winners and blockbuster new releases such as The Smurfs: The Lost Village. If you're up for it, you can combine a viewing of that film with a visit to Luna Park’s Smurfs Lost Village attraction, an immersive zone complete with inflatable mushroom houses, a craft workshop and blue movie characters Smurfette, Brainy Smurf and Papa Smurf. Movie packages available include a post-show dinner at the Deck brasserie. The waterfront venue is open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner during the school holidays period. An Unlimited Rides Pass will be available at a discounted price when bought with a cinema ticket, giving guests the opportunity to experience the Tango Train, Wild Mouse rollercoaster, Ferris Wheel, Coney Island and more. The Rooftop Cinema’s movie sessions will be held every evening from April 7-27, excluding Sundays. Tickets start at $18 and sessions begin at 6.30pm. For details of film screenings, click on the Dates and Times tab.
The Ritz in Randwick is one of Sydney's true architectural gems, built in 1937 and one of only two Art Deco cinemas left in Sydney. A visit here can bring lustre to any film. To mark the 80th birthday of the Ritz, they have programmed a season of nine all-time Hollywood greats spanning 1939 to 1967, all of them digitally restored and all of them must-sees for everyone who loves movies.Sublimely funny, desperately romantic, and endlessly quotable, Casablanca (1943) kicks off the season, with Humphrey Bogart in the iconic role of café owner Rick and Ingrid Bergman as his lost love Ilsa. Will they be reunited in Nazi-occupied Morocco? Will one of the usual suspects take the rap, will Sam play it again, and will they always have Paris? Vivien Leigh vows to get her man at the end of the Civil War in the epic Gone with the Wind (1939), while Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway go on a rampage as Bonnie and Clyde (1967), evoking the spirit of rebellion of the 1960s. Also from 50 years ago is The Graduate. This hilarious counterculture touchstone will seduce you with its witty performance from Dustin Hoffman and smouldering turn from Anne Bancroft, and touch you with its tale of the bitter older generation reaching out to strangle the younger. Indulge your sentimental side with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in the 1957 romantic weepie An Affair to Remember, or join Cary in the white-knuckle Alfred Hitchcock adventure North by Northwest, made two years later. Love La La Land? Then see o
The Alaska Projects Car Park in Elizabeth Bay will be the scene of a horror triple feature that has been programmed as part of the FFS (For Film's Sake) Festival. The movies screening on that dark, eerie Saturday night will be XX, Bitch and Near Dark. XX is a horror anthology of short work by four women (geddit?): 'The Birthday Party' by Annie Clark, 'Her Only Living Son' by Karyn Kusama, 'Don’t Fall' by Roxanne Benjamin and 'The Box' by Jovanka Vuckovic. The LA-based Benjamin (Southbound and V/H/S) will be in attendance on the night. Next up is Bitch by Marianna Palka – the story of a woman who snaps under life pressure and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog. Oh, we've all been there.And lastly, to see you through to the sun's first rays, it's a classic vampire quasi-western form 1987 – Kathryn The Hurt Locker Bigalow's Near Dark, featuring that late, great movie coward, Bill Paxton. As the man with the deep voice says: "Pray for daylight. The night has its price." That would be $30 – a bargain for a night of cutting-edge work from some brilliant chillmeisters.
Nights out in April
The Museum of Contemporary Art's monthly party series is curated by a different artist or collective each edition, and features art, performance and design – with killer views, party tunes and hands-on activities with artists. Since Artbar kicked off in May 2012, we’ve seen the MCA's galleries graced with nude performance art, endurance table tennis, house party-style karaoke, vomit montages, huge inflatables and a live goat. Ah, artists. Never change. The parties tend to sell out in advance, so consider pre-purchasing those tickets. Click through the Dates & Times tab for the line-up for each edition of Artbar.
Launched in Sydney in April 2016, this world-wide series promotes live music – for less than the price of a coffee. The local edition is curated on a rotating roster by FBi 94.5, I Oh You and Laneway Festival. Each month you can see three of Australia's best new live acts for $3 (if you RSVP) and $10 (if you don't!). Check out the Dates and Times tab to see the full details of who is playing, as concerts are announced.