Though this month is traditionally about finding new and inventive ways to warm your body in the safety of your home, we felt compelled to highlight the myriad of activities that could be all yours if you braved the blustery outdoors. Rug up and travel the short distance between cinemas for Sydney Film Festival or gawk at the remaining Vivid Sydney events. Start a new trend by wearing a snuggie outdoors or buy those camping hand warmer rock thingos – it's time to get out there. We’ve got tips for how to spend your Queen’s Birthday public holiday and costume shops for that cosplay outfit you’ll wear at Supanova Pop Culture Expo.
Find the biggest events in June
Vivid is the largest winter festival in the Southern Hemisphere, running over 23 days and nights with an extensive program of Light, Music and Ideas events. Last year, visitors flocked to the cathedral of lights in the Botanic Gardens and took thousands of shots of the Sydney Opera House lit with ‘Songlines’.
Dr Jane Goodall is known for her tireless work in helping to raise awareness about the relationship between humans and our primate relatives. For one night only you can listen to Dr Goodall talk about the ongoing work of her foundation in helping to protect Chimpanzees and other great apes, as well as the challenges involved in living as a conscious global citizen. The talk, presented by Think Inc., will ask audience members to consider the question “what separates us from other animals?”.
As Choir of Hard Knocks and Sydney Street Choir founder Jonathan Welch says, “Singing for an hour a week in a choir has now been scientifically proven to help build your immune system and fight cancer, build neural pathways for those who’ve had strokes and can't speak ... the list goes on.” It’s also anecdotally proven to make you feel happy.
Film events in June
Freshflix have run short film festivals in Sydney in breweries, cafés and creative spaces. They’re now preparing for a two-day Emerging Filmmakers’ Conference as part of Vivid Ideas, which will include a Freshflix Short Film Festival on the Sunday night, as well as workshops, talks and industry speed dating for young-gun filmmakers. Over the two-day conference, cofounder Claudia Pickering will be speaking alongside other Aussie directors who’ve made a dent in the industry. There’ll be panel talks with grants and distribution experts. And there’s a ‘Fake it til you make it’ workshop that equips participants with head shots, bios and an industry-ready resume for $40. Prices start from $15 for a single session, from $55 for full-day tickets, or $110 for the whole weekend. Read our interview with Freshflix cofounder Jess Hamilton.
Stranger Things stars Millie Bobby Brown and David Harbour may have cancelled their trip to Sydney for Supanova, but this travelling nerdfest will soldier on with the best in film, TV, comics, anime and more. Attendees can get up close and personal with Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit alum Christopher Lloyd, Angel and Dexter star Julie Benz, Johnny Yong Bosch from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Colin Donnell from Arrow, Christopher Judge from God of War, as well as '90s heartthrob Dean Cain, from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Supergirl. You'll also get to meet the brains behind some of your favourite comics, anime and animations, and a host of other exhibitors filling Sydney Showground. If you think you’re all about pop culture, you’re sure to meet your match at Supanova.
Underground Cinema is much more than just a movie. You also get an interactive live theatre experience that might just blow your mind. Previous events have embroiled the audience in FBI training for a screening of The Silence of the Lambs; dystopian refugee processing for Children of Men; and a zombie epidemic for 28 Days Later. For their latest experience, for three nights only in June, the theme is 'Dream'. Expect a movie exploring the future of the human race – and an experience to match.
Every Wednesday evening, the Art Gallery of NSW welcomes you into its hallowed halls and throws the ultimate in absolutely free mid-week social and cultural events. Until 10pm, Art After Hours offers a regular program of live music, lectures and celebrity talks, drawing workshops, film screenings, gallery tours and other events – and, of course, nocturnal access to its latest exhibitions. Through May, Art After Hours is focusing on Australian art legend John Olsen, in conjunction with their exhibition John Olsen: The You Beaut Country. In addition to guided tours of the show, there will be a series of talks taking you inside his world and work. See what else is on offer after hours via Sydney's new Wednesday-night Culture Up Late initiative.
The Sydney Film Festival returns for its 64th year with 288 thrilling, fascinating and entertaining movies you won't find at the multiplex. The Ritz Cinema in Randwick this year joins the list of venues hosting the festival, bringing great cinema to the eastern suburbs. As always the State Theatre will be the epicentre of the action, with screenings also occurring across the CBD, Newtown, Cremorne and Western Sydney. Special guests attending include Australian and international stars David Wenham, Ben Mendelsohn and Vanessa Redgrave; critically acclaimed directors like Warwick Thornton, Ildikó Enyedi, Amat Escalante, Alain Gomis and Shahrbanoo Sadat; and VR collective BADFAITH. As well as the latest films plucked from festivals such as Sundance, Toronto, Berlin, Venice and Cannes, the SFF this year features a number of special sections. They include Europe! Focus on Women in Film; Essential Kurosawa Selected by David Stratton; Smash It Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Punk; Feminism & Film: Sydney Women Filmmakers, 1970-85; Screenability (for filmmakers with disability); and Country Focus: Canada. It’s the tenth anniversary of the Sydney Film Prize, the festival’s official competition section. The $60,000 cash prize is presented at SFF’s Closing Night ceremony on Sunday June 18. Bookings to all films are now open and tickets for regular screenings are $19.90. The 25 best films in Sydney Film Festival – Time Out critics' picks.
June on stage
Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. An Oscar-nominated movie adaptation starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt: a parable has an aura of bigness about it. Big reputation. Big themes. And yet, as this Apocalypse Theatre Company production at the Old Fitzroy demonstrates, Doubt is at heart a chamber piece. Played for 50 people in a small theatre, with its characters close enough to touch, it is completely engrossing. St Nicholas Church and school, The Bronx, New York, 1964. The Catholic Church is in a period of self-examination and rapid change (crisis for some) prompted by the reforms of The Second Vatican Council. Worldwide, Catholic theologians and bishops are grappling with political, economic, and technological change and – pertinent to this play – the role of women in the Church. At first glance, Father Flynn (played here by Damian de Montemas) strikes as a Vatican II poster boy. He’s young (late thirties), progressive, approachable and eloquent when sermonising. He’s got game on the basketball court, too. The St Nicks boys like him, not least for his post-workout “bull sessions” over Kool-Aid and cookies. He’s notably kind to one boy in particular – Donald Muller, the school’s only African-American student. But Sister Aloysius (Belinda Giblin), a stern senior nun of the old-school variety (she frets over the moral implications of students being allowed to write with ballpoint pens), smells a rat. Or worse. Though she has no di
Picture this: it’s Australia in 1948. War rations have ended and we’re just figuring out café-style dining. The first Holden comes off the assembly line. William Dobell and Sidney Nolan are painting up a storm; imports on horror films are banned; everyone’s reading Ruth Park’s A Harp in the South. Two songs run the music charts: ‘The Anniversary Song’ and ‘Near You’ (the latter is a real early-century banger). On stage, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh’s theatre company tours the country. And novelist Patrick White writes a play called The Ham Funeral that freaks everyone out so much it doesn’t make it to the stage until 1961. Why so freaky? Imagine seeing something like Waiting for Godot or Ionesco’s Rhinoceros without knowing what absurd or existential thought was, without even names for these new and confronting styles. (The Ham Funeral predates both these seminal avant-garde works). Now imagine that the last big thing that happened in theatre in your country was Sir Laurence Olivier (from the films! And London!) doing Shakespeare. In this context, The Ham Funeral is grotesque and unsettling and a little scary. Of course, that’s what makes it so exciting. Inspired by a Dobell’s painting ‘The Dead Landlord’, and based in part on White’s own experiences in a London boarding-house, the play pushes at reality and the social contract of manners until it explodes into a parade of impulses and ideas. A young poet (played here by Sebastian Robinson) is sent out to gather the
Hidden Sydney brings to life legends of Kings Cross's history – from its cosmopolitan ’50s to its debauched ’60s and its seedy ’70s. Billed as "immersive cabaret", the interactive show invites audiences through a laneway entrance at the back of World Bar (re-cast as 'The Nevada', the infamous brothel that once occupied the building) and up four levels of the building, one 'scene' at a time – most of them centred around songs. A cast of minor characters (bouncers, barmen, sex workers) keep the action moving between rooms, with an ensemble of well-known Sydney performers delivering larger roles. Property developer and crime lord Abe 'Mr Sin' Saffron and Les Girls legend Carlotta are name-checked early, and a whole sequence is dedicated to the fate of alt-publisher and anti-development campaigner Juanita Neilson (who went missing, presumed murdered, in 1975). Occultist and "sex magic" enthusiast Rosaleen Norton and street poet Bea Miles are just two of the colourful characters who get their own scenes.
The Belvoir audience is on its last legs, says Kutisah (actor-writer Jacob Rajan) by way of introduction. He’s had a chat with artistic director Eamon Flack, who told him, in confidence probably, that the typical punter is either stressed, depressed, overweight or drunk. Kutisah is undaunted. In fact, he says, tonight’s crowd of stressed-out self-medicators should consider this evening as a form of therapy. Good for the soul. Good for the mind. Good, even, for infections of the urinary tract. I can only attest to its effectiveness in the first two areas, but after watching this remarkable exercise in storytelling unfold, nothing would surprise me. Adapting an Indian folktale known in English as Punchkin, Rajan spirits us away to Bangalore, India, for a serpentine tale of unrequited love. Kutisah is a humble chai seller working in the city’s vast Central Railway Station. One morning, seven young sisters approach him. They have been abandoned by their father. They have no money, no friends, no one to look after them. Kutisah is no guardian angel but he does give them space to do a little busking, which in no time at all, rakes in a pile of money. The singing and beauty of one sister in particular, Balna, captures the attention of a portly policeman, Punchkin. The girls’ ability to rake in the rupees also attracts thugs in the employ of a feared Bangalore crime boss known as The Fakir. Narrated by an hilariously unreliable guide and unfolding over 90 minutes, Guru of
This play by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman was written in 1995 – two years before the landmark Bringing Them Home report on the Stolen Generations was published, and five years before the Reconciliation marches. Riffing on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ then-popular ‘five stages of grief’ model, the play explored different kinds of Aboriginal grief from First Contact to contemporary Australia, through vignettes performed by a single actress (Mailman, in the play’s debut season). At the time, it was a revolutionary act of the theatre: bearing witness to trauma that was barely acknowledged by mainstream Australia, and a hope for reconciliation. This co-production by Brisbane company Grin and Tonic and Queensland Theatre Company is directed by Jason Klarwein and stars Chenoa Deemal.
Laugh through June
Sundays at Cafe Lounge are now hosted by John Conway, that national man of mystery – and Australia's answer to Fallon, if Jimmy were blonde, drunk and being attacked by bees, and if his guests were mostly made up. Join John and sidekicks Aaron Chen and Sam Campbell from 7pm (or get to the Lounge at 5pm for happy hour and some pre-show lubrication). Entry is free, donations are welcome after the show.
Having built up the biggest open mic night in Sydney, Mug and Kettle have now retitled and moved to a new home – next door to their old home – at Beats Eats Drinks (B.E.D.) on Glebe Point Road. Molotov Comedy will still be a sign-up-on-the-night affair: comedians should turn up from 6.30pm to add their name to the list, with 4 minutes guaranteed stage time and running order drawn from the hat. Your regular show runners are local comedians Paige Hally and Tom Sanderson, with the odd drop-in emcee. Mug and Kettle also run Treehouse Comedy at the Forresters, and Eveleigh Comedy at the Eveleigh Hotel. Looking for impromptu comedy? Here are some other top open mic nights in Sydney.
Comedians Jamie Kirk and Ben Kochan host this open mic room, previously called POS Comedy; but it's still a space for comics to try new material and develop their craft in an intimate room (40 max audience). Comics have up to 4 minutes per set, and can sign up on the Cactus Juice facebook page from noon on Mondays. The show starts at 8pm, and includes two feature acts and a support doing longer sets.