You'll find there's still lots of summery things to do in Sydney during the first month of autumn, including music events and theatre by the harbour. It's International Women's Day on March 8 and a good place to celebrate that and talk about gender equality is the All About Women festival on Sunday March 5. It's a good month for food festivals as Taste of Sydney and March into Merivale take place. Plus, there's Earth Hour, Parramasala and A Moveable Feast.
Major events in March
Previously held in spring each year, Parramasala will now be held in autumn during Multicultural March. It’s one of the biggest celebrations of cultural diversity in New South Wales with a program of food, heritage, dance and theatre over three days in Parramatta. It’s a colourful event, from the morning yoga and breakfast events to the evening spice markets and Bollywood dancing.
In our five-star review of Gale Edwards' 2013 production of Carmen for the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour series, we described it as "the perfect potion – the glitzy visuals and hyperactive energy of a Broadway musical mixed with world-class opera." It's no wonder it's returning to its harbourside perch at Mrs Macquarie's Point for Autumn 2017. A new cast will take to Brian Thomson's striking stage, including international leads Josè Maria Lo Monaco (as Carmen), Andeka Gorrotxategi (Don José) and Marko Mimica (Escamillo).
Looking for a new challenge? Sign yourself up as part of team of four (made up of at least 50 per cent women) to do the seventh annual Sydney Coastrek. You can choose between a 30- or 60-kilometre trek, starting from Manly or Kirribilli to Bondi, and the sign up fee includes a 12-week training program to get you off the couch and up to a good level of fitness. The sports event raises money for the Fred Hollows Foundation and it scales the stunning coastline of Sydney. If you’ve entered the event before, there is a new route for this year, including beaches, bays and cliff top walks.
Gaycrashers Rhys Nicholson and Joel Creasey are re-teaming for this night of comedy on Mardi Gras eve, in which they will be making "celebrities and gay icons" face off on stage in a series of silly games. If you like comedy with sharp claws and even sharper suits/cheekbones, this is your ticket.
Any aspirant highschool guitarist worth her salt will remember the shiver they got the first time they picked out 'B-E-B-E-B-E-B-E-B-E-B-E-down-up-strums'. Now, after more than half a decade between tours, The Pixies are returning to blast us with the simple magic of 'Where Is My Mind', along with tracks from their September 2016 album Head Carrier. This will be only the second time The Pixies have hit our shores without founding bassist Kim Deal (she's off releasing solo material). As with their Vivid shows in 2014, Deal has been replaced in the lineup by Paz Lenchatin, formerly of A Perfect Circle. She's been touring with the band since shortly after Deal left, and became an official member of The Pixies in July of 2016.
Say farewell to summer by joining your pals for a spectacular chic picnic on the beach. A Moveable Feast is Sydney’s biggest beachfront pop-up dinner – it's an elegant dining experience in partnership with renowned Australian restaurateur Luke Mangan. The theme for the event is ‘pastel picnic’ so channel the French Riviera chic and wear your finest soft tones.
Surfers from across the globe travel to Manly for the nine-day competition that draws more than 325,000 spectactors of all ages to the beach. But we all know the surfing competition is just part of the fun. The festival brings with it activations and markets that celebrate the skate, music, art and food culture that accompanies the sport. There'll be multiple skate competitions to watch, as well as free live music.
Twilight at Taronga sees thousands of fans flock to the zoo for a night of live music under the stars. On the international front, American singer-songwriter Kurt Vile is sure to be a highlight. Hailing from Canada is much-loved indie pop duo Tegan and Sara, plus the inimitable singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright. All proceeds from the ticket sales go back into the Zoo's conservation projects.
Movies in March
Ireland: once a heartland for anti-gay bigotry, now a more tolerant society where same-sex marriage is enshrined in law. And also, a hotbed for queer cinema.Indeed, both the opening and closing night films for this year's Mardi Gras Film Festival are Irish – a testament to the quality of the local film industry.Opening night film A Date for Mad Mary is a likeable coming of age story about a young girl released from prison who clicks with a spunky photographer. Closing night's is Handsome Devil, a comedy in which two outsiders at a sport-oriented boys' school find common ground. In between there are gay, lesbian, bi and transgender stories, a Rainbow Families screening of Finding Dory, gay and lesbian shorts, documentaries, talks, and a sing-a-long screening of the Doris Day camp classic Calamity Jane (1953). Festival director Paul Struthers notes that this year has seen an increase in the number of lesbian and transgender-themed films programmed – a welcome development.
North Sydney Oval, with its historic grandstand and views of the lights of North Sydney, is a classy venue for outdoor cinema screenings, and the 2017 program is a good one. It mixes up Oscar favourites for film lovers; blockbuster sci-fi and comedy; golden oldies for the nostalgics; and family films to give the kids a memorable summer outing. You can't buy dinner here but there's popcorn, soft drinks and lollies. MadFish Wine Bar will be serving up premium West Australian MadFish wines and bubbles along with 4 Pines craft beers (Pale Ale, Kolsch & Hefenweizen), cider and water (sorry, no BYO). Highlights include Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply; Denzel Washington, phenomenal in Fences; glorious musical La La Land; and the lovable 1985 fantasy adventure Back to the Future. Most movies have been announced but some (such as the Valentine's Day screening) are to be advised. The premium Lawn Lounge tickets ($40) include an Ultimate Bean Lounger for the night, a bag of Cobs popcorn, a 4 Pines beer or glass of MadFish wine, and a Bulla ChocTop. Bookings are now open. To see the entire program and Time Out's critics' picks and to make your reservations, click on the Dates and Times tab.
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 February, Art After Hours is taking its theme cues from the ARTEXPRESS exhibition (a showcase of HSC works by art students in New South Wales), with live music by young locals and panel discussions featuring student artists. The film series for February is titled Asian New Waves, and features cinema from China, Taiwan and Iran. Click through the Dates & Times tab to see highlights for each Art After Hours date. See what else is on offer after hours via Sydney's new Wednesday-night Culture Up Late initiative.
Sir John Hurt's movie career spanned 55 years and 141 films but he was only nominated for an Oscar twice: for Turkish-prison drama Midnight Express (1978) and for The Elephant Man (1980), the second feature film directed by cult movie legend David Lynch. Hurt stars as a 19th century Englishman who suffered from a severe physical deformity and was rescued from a side show by a crusading doctor (Anthony Hopkins). It's a very moving and humane period movie, filmed in black and white with an appropriately for a Stygian vision of Victorian London, with touches of Lynchian surrealism. Time Out Australia interviewed John Hurt in 2010 and asked him for his recollections of making the film. "My strongest recollection was making it with David Lynch who, at that time, was not David Lynch, if you see what I mean," Hurt said. "I remember him struggling to be taken seriously in England. I remember, metaphorically, having to hold his hand. Because people weren’t quite ready for him. "I can remember the make-up, when we first did it, taking 12 hours. We finally got to the set, where the director was waiting to see it, and the rest of the cast were there and they’d been waiting for ages, and I can remember thinking, 'if anybody laughs, that’s the end of the movie'. But fortunately there was a stunned silence. And it was out of that silence, I think, that the whole film became a possibility. The seminal moment." Hurt died on January 25 from pancreatic cancer. Three dollars from every tic
These free screenings offer inner-west families a chance to get out of the house this summer.Films on offer include quality animated films Zootopia and Inside Out and Aussie family film Paper Planes. They have beanbags to rent and popcorn and drinks for sale but bring a picnic if planning dinner and a picnic blanket too.Check out the complete schedule and see Time Out's critic's picks by clicking on the DATES AND TIMES tab.
On stage in March
In our 5-star review of John Bell's Tosca (from its premiere season in 2013) we wrote: "Bell has created a striking production, transposing the action to Nazi-occupied Rome during World War 2, with three magnificent sets that take us from a church to an internment camp. There are some stunning set-pieces; the chorus that closes the first act is a particular highlight, with the men and women of Rome, soldiers and clergy converging in the vestibule of the church in time with Puccini’s striding rhythm, in an exhilarating visual and aural crescendo. This is just excellent stuff, with the kind of compacted, concentrated energy that one expects from the best Shakespeare. If it doesn’t make you fall in love with opera, probably nothing will." From our interview with Sydney's favourite Shakespearen actor and director, John Bell, ahead of his first production for Opera Australia: Composed by Puccini after his wildly popular La bohème, Tosca is a titan in the opera canon now, but it was famously divisive when it premiered in 1900, and in the years following. Even in the ’50s, musicologist Joseph Kernan famously called it a “shabby little shocker.” Director John Bell recounts this anecdote incredulously: “I thought, ‘How can you say that?’ I suppose when it’s done in its original period – with period costumes and all that – it can come across as melodramatic. People associate that kind of costuming and that era with melodrama – and [Tosca] could swing that way.” With this in mi
Sydney’s first look at the work of the small, tight-knit Quebec troupe Cirque Alfonse was via its lumber camp-themed Timber! Brawny, inventive and drawing on the folk music and history of French Canada, it stood out in the 2015 Sydney Festival’s circus program. Barbu (“Bearded”), the company’s 2015 Edinburgh Fringe hit now touring Australia, is no less a crowd-pleaser, if more obvious in its methods. Performing on a small circular stage and catwalk, the five-guy, two-gal company introduces itself with a series of gentle routines harking back to the early days of circus in Canada. Rollerskates, scarf juggling, a bit of beard-play for laughs. Nothing spectacular. But as Cirque Alfonse warms to the task, the physicality of each act becomes increasingly intense. The three-piece electro-folk band led by singer-guitarist Andre Gagne kicks up a gear. Costumes (vintage circus-meets-Edwardian bondage) are discarded for tight black undies. Sweat begins to bead on the performers’ brows and bodies. Soon it’s running in rivulets. For the next hour the company is pretty much flat-out. Previous circus-burlesques seen in the Studio (La Clique, La Soiree, and more recently Club Swizzle) have been compilations shows, speciality acts knitted together with emcee patter. You do your “bath boy” routine, or whatever, and it’s back to the green room until curtain call. Barbu, by contrast, is Jack (and Jill) of all trades stuff with everybody working most of the time. The four men (Jean-Philippe
Powerhouse combo director Gale Edwards and designer Brian Thomson (HOSH's Carmen) created this production for Opera Australia's 2011 season – and it has proved a popular hit. Some love La bohème, some loathe it – but there's no doubt that there's plenty of those Puccini earworms (including the famous double-dose back-to-back arias 'Che gelida manina' and 'Mi chiamano Mimi'), and plenty of romance, sex, tragedy and comedy. To that mix, Edwards and Thomson add the sizzle of Weimar Germany (cue topless club girls, red-curtained cabarets, bedazzling frocks, and the best kind of boho threads). This is an eminently accessible, attractive production that will satisfy die-hard romantics, Puccini fans and opera noobs alike. Single tickets for La bohème are available from October 12. Until then, you can purchase tickets as part of a subscription. See what else is in the Opera Australia 2017 season.
The story of Eugenia Falleni is little known, although two books on the subject have helped lift it from obscurity. Transgendered before the term was even conceivable, Falleni identified as Harry Crawford, and married single mother Annie Birkett in Sydney in the years leading up to the Great War. When in 1917 Annie’s charred body was discovered in scrub land, Crawford was arrested and found guilty of murder. The trial was a sensationalist freak-show at the time, and for many decades afterwards was seen as a mere curiosity, but things change and the story of Harry Crawford suddenly seems incredibly resonant and instructive. But who should tell it? Philpott is clearly sensitive to accusations of cultural appropriation, because he goes out of his way to frame his telling as an authorial interpretation of events, with no claims to veracity. Several times throughout, Philpott arrests a scene and replays it with a totally different emphasis. It’s a constant reminder that truth is illusory, that the dead can’t reveal their secrets. It’s also dramatically breathtaking. A play that is unafraid to navigate the clichés of the Aussie period drama, that cuts into our cultural prejudice and unresolved gender assumptions, that squarely lays the blame back in the laps of its audience, is a play worth seeing. This is an edited version of the review of MKA's premiere season of The Trouble With Harry in Melbourne, 2014.
As gay icons go, Oscar Wilde's right up there – and not least because he was ready to go all the way for love/lust. David Hare's 1998 play examines the puzzling choice that led Wilde's downfall: his decision to stay in England even when he was facing arrest on charges of gross indecency, and when his lover was begging him to flee. Director Iain Sinclair, who is as much at home on the mainstages as the in the indies, is reviving the play at the Old Fitz, with Josh Quong Tart playing the Irish writer, alongside Robert Alexander, Luke Fewster, Simon London, Hayden Maher, Hannah Raven and David Soncin.
Museum exhibitions in March
Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, you have to wear an unflattering grey jumpsuit. But if climbing the fourth-longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world is a should-see for out-of-towners and visiting celebrities (Nicole Kidman, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake have all opted in for the BridgeClimb), then it’s an absolute can’t-miss for locals. Each of the three main climbs – Discovery, Bridge (210 minutes each) and Express (135 mins) – begins with a breath test, so you’ll have to forgo any dreams of a nerve-calming visit to a nearby Rocks pub beforehand. You then have to remove your clothes, put them in a locker and quick-change into that official (and endearingly daggy) BridgeClimb gear. After a quick practice session, climbers attach themselves to the Bridge with a belt and slider clip, which hooks onto a wire to keep you safe as you move among the beams. A radio headset allows you to hear your guide’s voice over the wind and traffic noise, and in about 45 minutes you’re standing with your group on the lead-in beams, ready to conquer that giant maze of steel. The climb isn’t as arduous or scary as you’d think: much of it is just like ascending a (not-at-all-steep) staircase, and there are plenty of stops on the way so the guide can offer fascinating insights into the bridge’s construction. Did you know one of the jobs back in construction days was the ‘catcher’, who would balance on a two-foot wide beam sans safety harness and catch steel rivets tossed to him from a
Once the administration offices of the Maritime Services Board, this waterside museum was overhauled head to toe (well, almost) in 2011 and re-opened in March 2012 with light, airy, uncluttered interiors, more floor space and a boxy new facade. It's not just good looks, either: the rooftop café and sculpture terrace, high-tech education centre, and 120-seat lecture theatrette and forecourt are all worth checking out. And the original sandstone heart is still there. “We wanted to keep the old building but provide something next to it that says immediately that this is a contemporary building,” says MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE. Inside, the galleries themselves are clean, logical and open – with long vistas to entice and draw you in further. While the design of the exterior is about drawing attention, the opposite is the case for the interior. “The most important thing is the art,” says architect Sam Marshall. “In the perfect gallery there would be no architecture visible. For most of the MCA’s exhibitions they install walls, change colours and put different surfaces in. That requires a really simple space with a really simple circulation system.”
Located on the site of the old Ultimo Power Station, the Powerhouse opened as a museum in 1988 and is the largest in Australia, with a collection of 385,000 objects, 22 permanent and five temporary display spaces, and more than 250 interactive exhibits. It covers science, technology, creativity, decorative arts and Australian popular culture. Permanent exhibitions include Ecologic: Creating a Sustainable Future, Cyberworlds: Computers and Connections, Experimentations, and Transport. There's also a reconstructed 1930s cinema showing films from that period, a steam-powered locomotive train the 1850s (in the foyer), and the Boulton & Watt steam engine (1785). To recharge your batteries, visit the Black Star Pastry pop-up cafe on site.
This building stands on one of the most historic spots in Sydney, site of the first Government House, built in 1788 by Governor Arthur Phillip and home to the first nine governors of NSW. In 1983 archaeologists unearthed the original footings of the house, which had survived since the building’s 1846 demolition; these remains are now a feature at the museum. Administered by Sydney Living Museums and opened in 1995, the MOS offers a mix of state-of-the-art installations, nostalgic memorabilia and changing exhibitions. A giant video spine spans the full height of the building and charts the physical development of the city. This area was the first point of contact for the indigenous Gadigal people and the First Fleet, so the museum also explores colonisation, invasion and contact. The Gadigal Place gallery honours the clan’s history and culture, while outside the museum the 'Edge of the Trees' sculpture by Fiona Foley and Janet Laurence symbolises the first encounter, in which the Gadigal people hid behind trees and watched officers of the First Fleet struggle ashore. Pause in the foyer in front of late indigenous artist Gordon Bennett's 1991 painting 'Possession Island', which re-interprets the traditional European story of contact and colonisation, and parodies British paintings depicting Cook's claiming of Australia.
The Australian Museum (established 1827) houses the nation's most important animal, mineral, fossil and anthropological collections, and prides itself on its innovative research into Australia's environment and indigenous cultures. Displays cover the Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa and the Americas, with items ranging from Aboriginal kids' toys to a tattooed chalk head from the Solomon Islands. Any serious museum-tripper should see a few of the local stuffed animals, and the displays should answer all your questions about Australian mammals. If you're interested in Aboriginal culture and beliefs, visit the Indigenous Australia section, and get informed about important issues including the Stolen Generations and deaths in custody. As of January 2017, and throughout summer, the Australian Museum will open untl 9pm on Wednesdays as part of the Wednesday Night Culture Night initiative.