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Sulman Prize-winner Getting down or falling up
Photograph: AGNSW, Mim Stirling © Georgia Spain | Detail of ‘Getting down or falling up', 2021, Georgia Spain

The best digital events to stream online

While arts venues lie dormant, there are still plenty of fun things you can enjoy online at home

By Stephen A Russell and Time Out editors
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If you've got a screen, be it your laptop, you TV or your moby, you're just a couple of taps away from these awesome streamable events that do not require fancy clothes (or any, really) to be put on. So settle in with our guide to the best livestreams, virtual walk-throughs, and digital events happening in Sydney and beyond right now.

Want more? Check out our guide to the best shows and movies new to streaming in July.

What to stream in Sydney right now

Future Shapers Civic Sara Saleh
Photograph: Liza Moscatelli

Antidote

Things to do Talks and discussions Your place, Sydney

Who knows what the sitch in the city will look like by September 5, but the Opera House isn’t sitting around twiddling fingers. Instead they’ve leapt into action fielding a livestream version of Antidote Festival. All events will be hosted on their cool Stream platform, so you can tune into big ideas without leaving the house. Tickets are on sale now at $15 a pop, with one session exploring the Uluru Statement from the Heart totally free. If you snap up an early bird pass up to the end of Sunday, August 1, you can get the lot for $60, or $75 thereafter. The line-up includes former Finance Minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis spearing the techno-feudalism of capitalism when he chats to former Greens senator Scott Ludlam in Alternative Futures. The New Yorker writer and author Elizabeth Kolbert, who will address some of the mind-bending climate crisis solutions being valiantly worked up by scientists in Racing to the End of the World. Future Shaper Sarah Saleh joins Sweatshop founder and The Lebs author Michael Mohammed Ahmad, academic and activist Randa Abdel-Fattah (Coming of Age in the War on Terror) and University of Melbourne professor Ghassan Hage for the sure to be powerful discussion “No Lebs”: Anti-Arab racism since 9/11.

A gallery view of Hilma af Klint’s beautiful abstract series 'The Ten Largest'
Photograph: David Heald, installation view at Guggenheim Museum | ‘The Ten Largest’, 1907, Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings

Art Paintings Your place, Sydney

It was pure joy when Sydneysiders got to see the beautiful colours of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint’s beautiful abstracts light up the Art Gallery of New South Wales this winter. And then a total bummer when they had to close the doors of Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings less than a month later. The good news is, it’s back on, only this time you can visit without leaving the house, and it’s totally free. They’ve whipped up a snazzy YouTube video walkthrough to ensure that the gorgeous exhibition reaches even further than before while keeping us all safe and happy.  

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Stylised image shows 'murdered' person in red dress on floor next to labelled evidence.
Photograph: Victoria Borodinova/Pixabay

Host your own virtual murder mystery party

News City Life

Just when you thought Cluedo-style mysteries would be limited to figuring out who got into your stash of quarantine snacks (was it the bored housemate with the unsanitised hands in the kitchen cabinet?), UK company Red Herring Games has come through. Describing itself as a provider of “the best in murder mystery entertainment”, Red Herring’s multilayered games can now be adapted for virtual gatherings with the assistance of video conferencing applications like Zoom or Google Hangouts. They have games suitable for smaller groups of 6-20 people, kids parties, and larger groups that can break off into multiple rooms.There are some hilarious and just-shy-of-copyright-infringing themes to choose from. The Great British Bump Off is certainly brimming with surprise fillings, Murder on the Disorientated Express sounds like a hoot (toot, toot!), we bet Death Actually has plenty of thrilling tangents, and we certainly want to go up to the lab and see what's on the slab at the Little Rock Horror Shop of Murder!

A family hide and play under a bedsheet
Photograph: Supplied/Lakshal Perera

Entertain the kids with magical audio games

News Kids

Theatres may have gone dark again, with the ghost lights back on across Sydney and Melbourne, but that doesn’t mean that there are no shows to be seen. All sorts of creative minds have created fun streaming stuff to entertain us during lockdown. Some of these efforts have even garnered international acclaim. That’s true of Australian company Threshold. While stuck in the first Victorian lockdown, Kyneton-based co-founders Tahli Corin and Sarah Lockwood conjured up magical theatrical experiences for kids and grown-ups to share at home together. Transforming everyday objects into sets, props and costumes, it really is the natural progression of the classic Shakespeare line – “All the world’s a stage.” All you need is an internet connection and you can dive headlong into Mountain Goat Mountain, with the Threshold team leading you on an incredible adventure using little more than a bedsheet and the limitless power of your combined imaginations. The 45-minute narrated audio work sends you on a mission to discover a rare magical creature. Another work, Feather Quest, creates a treasure hunt looking for hidden cards that trace the life-cycle of a bird, from freshly lain egg right through to flying the nest. 

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Chefs dance in a kitchen
Photograph: Supplied/David Hooley

Chop Chef

Theatre Musicals Your place, Sydney

Do you love the cut and thrust of MasterChef a little too much? Do you scream at the TV screen, urging your favourite contestant to kill it? Is your snarling fervour just a wee bit more than might be deemed healthy? Like, bloodthirsty Hunger Games too much? If your answer is yeah, well, have we got the show for you. Parramatta-based Blush Opera took the brutality of reality TV to the next level with their wicked fun show Chop Chef earlier this year. Slicing and dicing the fates of six wannabes locked in a battle to the death over creating the best dish, this wickedly sharp satire of the mores and frankly too muches of cooking shows is opera, but not as you know it. Recorded live, it's been heated up in the microwave for an online watch party you can stream from home. You can watch it on demand until August 1 for $15-$18.

Q&A session will help reboot the Randwick Ritz offering
Photograph: Supplied

The Randwick Ritz is streaming films for $3 during lockdown

News Film

Did you have big plans to head to your local cinema soon? Don’t get too upset at the choc top block. You can still get the popcorn popping. The Randwick Ritz has been running an on-demand film service for a while now, but in light of our current lockdown sitch, they're hosting a special lockdown sale with more than 20 major movies available to stream for just $3. That includes huge blockbusters like Tenet and Joker, as well as all-time classics like Citizen Kane and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. If you’re in geek mode, make like a furry footed hobbit and smash the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (perfect lockdown binge fodder). Horror fans can indulge in the even more freaky director’s cut of Midsommar.

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Wynne Prize-winner Garak Night  Sky
Photograph: AGNSW, Mim Stirling © Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu | Detail of ‘Garak – night sky’, 2021, Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu

Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2021

Art Galleries Your place, Sydney

While the doors of the Art Gallery of NSW remain shut for the time being, the good news is you can still check out Peter Wegner’s Archibald Prize-winning ‘Portrait of Guy Warren at 100’ from the safety of your sofa. That’s because the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize exhibitions have been given the digital treatment, with a swish 360-degree immersive experience you can check out online here. It’s heaps of fun to explore, with the self-guided tour flagging loads of interesting facts along the way as you click on the works to read their labels.

Ella Hooper performs for Isol-Aid Homegrown
Photograph: Supplied/Isol-Aid Homegrown | Ella Hooper

Isol-Aid Homegrown

Things to do Your place, Sydney

After debuting in March last year as a livestreamed two-day event, Isol-Aid is back and bigger than ever before. Partnering with 99designs by Vistaprint, Isol-Aid presents Homegrown, a 16-week program where emerging acts from across Australia and New Zealand are invited to perform alongside established artists. It streams live on TikTok and isolaidfestival.com every two weeks. Fans and bands can nominate their favourite Aussie and Kiwi acts (or themselves) to be a part of Isol-Aid Homegrown via 99designs.com/homegrown. One act will be selected by a panel of judges to receive a $10,000 grant to boost their career and creative growth, alongside a dedicated mentoring session from Killing Heidi singer and solo artist, Ella Hooper

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This Way Up cast
Photograph: Supplied/Stan

The best TV shows to watch on Stan

Film

They say we’re the lucky country, and that's certainly true when it comes to top-notch TV options. Not only are we spoiled with two public broadcasters, but Australians also have their very own affordable streaming platform to gorge on in Stan. With so many original and exclusive shows on offer, we pick out some of our favourites to help you while away your evenings in style, inclduign the emosh dramedy of This Way Up.

A computer performer and a real dancer work together
Photograph: Supplied/Billy Zammit

The Sydney Opera House is releasing a season of digital experiences you can stream for free

News Events & Festivals

Hungry for a cultural fix in lockdown? As ever, the Sydney Opera House has your back. They kept us sane when arts venues were closed for most of last year and they’re doing it all over again on their digital platform Stream, which showcases heaps of free stuff alongside videos to rent. They’ve just dropped Outlines, a season of digital works showcasing game-changing artists (including Future Shaper Serwah Attafuah) and technology.

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A bus packed with people
Photograph: Supplied

Iranian Film Festival

Film Film festivals Your place, Sydney

Movie lovers are spoiled in Sydney right now. The tenth anniversary of the Iranian Film Festival may have wrapped up in-cinema, but you'll be able to kick on, with the program heading online July 15-30. The country has become a hotbed for excellent cinema, despite the onerous obstructions placed in front of filmmakers. It has fielded masterpieces from the likes of Abbas Kiarostami (Palme d’Or-winner Taste of Cherry) and Asghar Farhadi (Oscar-winner A Separation).

This year’s crop includes proud feminist writer/director Ida Panahandeh’s mind-bending TiTi. It features Elnaz Shakerdoost as a hospital worker with supernatural powers, who performs an arcane ritual to save an esteemed physicist working on black hole theory and a prediction about the end of the world. Oh, and she’s also acting as a surrogate mother for an infertile couple in order to serve humanity. Natch. It premiered at this year’s Tokyo Film Festival to rave reviews, and we are so hooked in.

Elsewhere in the Iranian Film Festival, superstar Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s movie Sun Children introduces us to a group of canny 12 year olds working odd jobs and small-time crime to support their families. Though it didn’t make the final noms, it was Iran’s official Oscar hope this year. The Wasteland by Ahmad Bahrami tells a story about a community that's centred on a traditional brick-making factory in a remote corner of the country. It won the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Film at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.

Prolific director Manijeh Hekmat’s road movie Bandar Band follows the travails of a group of women determined to compete in a singing competition hosted in a Tehran coffee shop, but encounter a flood while making their way from a southern province. She has a fantastic eye for this kind of narrative. And the Iranian Film Festival's closing night spot celebrates the life of the late, great Kambuzia Partovi. His final film The Truck traces the determination of a Yazidi woman to escape an ISIS massacre with her two children and track down her husband in Tehran.

Tickets range from $12 up to $135 for an eight-film pass. You can explore the full program here. Festival director Armin Miladi says, “We have had a very strong year for Iranian cinema, enabling us to present a fantastic and diverse range of films for our audiences in Australia.”

Love movies? Check out our wrap of all the film festivals on the go.

A topless dancer on his head, legs akimbo, with a female dancer lying on the floor behind him
Photograph: Supplied/SDC/Pedro Greig

Shake off lockdown blues with Sydney Dance Company's online classes

News Theatre & Performance

If you find yourself developing cabin fever during lockdown, then shake it off with Sydney Dance Company (SDC). You can take advantage of their brand new online offering, Classes on Demand. Filmed in SDC’ iconic Wharf Studios, nestled under the Harbour Bridge, Classes On Demand is a DIY library of video sessions that will teach you a raft of dance styles pitched at all levels of ability, from beginners to professionals who need to stay limber in lockdown. It doesn’t even matter if you’re dead set on becoming a dancer, the classes are just as cool for workout routines, or to have a bit of a giggle at your totally un-co ways while sinking wine. It's $29.95 for a month-long subscription, which is basically a dollar a day, with no lock-in contracts. You can access Classes On Demand by creating a subscription here.

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a woman in a candlelit room with bookshelves listens to a scary Darkfield Radio show
Photograph: Supplied/Darkfield Radio

The spookiest Darkfield Radio shows to scare yourself silly with

Things to do

The devilish minds behind spook-tacular arts company Darkfield turned 20 minutes locked inside a shipping container into an even more terrifying experience than that already sounds, with their haunted immersive shows Séance and Flight. Since then, they’ve branched out into destroying the sanctuary and safety of our homes too. You can tune in and freak out to Darkfield Radio via their mobile app, which collects a hair-raising series of unnerving soundscapes meticulously designed to creep you out. In other words, the demonic portals they open are the perfect distraction for thrill seekers with a penchant for terror who may well be trapped at home in lockdown right now. 

Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day

The best films that feature a time loop

Film

Have you ever...ever felt like this? The characters in these films have, skipping through time and reliving moments over and over for various reasons. For when you feel like the days are all bleeding into one, hopefully these streamable movies help you feel just that little bit better. Even if it feels like we’re living Groundhog Day over and over, at least we don’t have to dunk our feet into puddles and bump into that annoying Ned Ryerson every single day. Here are some of our favourite movies featuring time loops. 

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A person playing a compute game about shipwrecks on their laptop
Photograph: Supplied/Australian National Maritime Museum

Explore famous shipwrecks with this fun new online game from the Maritime Museum

News Film

Fancy yourself as something of Dora the explorer? Well the Australian National Maritime Museum has the online game you've been searching for. While the bathtub might be as undersea as we can get right now, Wreck Seeker lets you dive headlong into the oceans on the hunt for sunken treasure. You play the role of a maritime archaeologist, getting your research on as you explore some of these sunken wonders of ye olde world. Designed with a little help from Roar Film, Screen Tasmania and Screen Australia, the game lets you investigate wrecks from across the centuries. Before you dive on in, you get to chat to eye-witnesses from the time, as well as historians looking back. You're then tasked with figuring out which resources are the most useful. Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, you can plot an X marks the spot on a map where you think the ship went down, then get to exploring.

Donnie Darko
Photograph: Newmarket Films

Bleak and depressing films to watch

Film

If you were looking for upbeat films where everyone lives happily ever after, boy howdy, did you click on the wrong story. There's a time and a place for those movies, certainly, but it isn't here. Not now lockdown has been extended. Instead, we've channelled our inner Nietzsche and compiled a list of our favourite films that are 100 per cent soul-crushingly bleak. From dystopian wastelands to harrowing dreamscapes, these films will not only make you feel all the feelings, but they do so with finesse and aplomb – despair has never looked so beautiful.  Misery loves company, so grab your nearest and dearest household members and enjoy (maybe not the right word) one of the bleakest films you can watch right now. 

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The reboot cast of Gossip Girl
Photograph: HBO/ Binge

The best TV shows to watch on Binge

Film

At this point, you might have scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page on both Netflix and Stan. It’s not your fault – we do have a lot of free time on our hands right now. Binge is another Australia’s streaming service that comes from the same hands as Foxtel and Foxtel Go. Binge has the added benefit of hosting a huge selection of HBO television shows, which makes it ideal for those keen to catch up on “prestige” television shows like The Wire, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. But what else has Binge got to offer? Here are some of our favourite TV shows currently streaming on Binge.

Don't have Binge? Here are the best escapist flicks on Netflix and the best TV shows now on Stan

Justene Williams 'The Unboxers' (still) 2020, from Hyper-link
Photograph: Justene Williams

Hyper-linked

Art Digital and interactive Your place, Sydney

Embracing these hybrid times when we’re often online more than we’re out and about, the Art Gallery of New South Wales has launched the mother of all digital galleries, and it’s a kaleidoscopic trip to creative wonderland. Part of their ongoing Together in Art series, Hyper-linked assembles seven exciting contemporary Australian artists pushing the envelope on how we engage with art from wherever we are in the world. Heath Franco’s 'Home Videohome' is a trippy, dystopian stare into the abyss, with Justene Williams’ explosively colourful video 'The Unboxers' similarly loopy goodness. Check them out and more.

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Dancers Ako Kondo and Amber Scott in a pas de deux in pale blue, long tutus
Photograph: Supplied/Pierre Toussaint

Tune into Ballet TV

News Theatre & Performance

The Australian Ballet’s impressive digital program Ballet TV keeps bringin the goodswith loads of behind-the-scenes stuff and astouindnig clips of these ridic athletic dancers at work. 

Burlesque star Zelia Rose holds aloft a feather boa
Photograph: Supplied/Caldera 360º

Caldera 360º

Art Digital and interactive Your place, Sydney

The inaugural run of the critically acclaimed Caldera Festival was dubbed “Sydney’s answer to Dark Mofo”, way back in 2018. Plans for a biannual return were scuppered last year, for obvious reasons. But that enforced benching got artistic director Laurence Rosier Staines thinking about how to deliver an online version that would stay true to the spirit of the live experience. Caldera 360º is the result, and it’s arrived just in time for our current snap lockdown. The immersive platform hosts five 360º digital artworks and performances, all scattered across a surreal landscape. From the outset, it asks you, the visitor, the question, “Caldera 360º is a website… or is it a game?”

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The Breaker Upperers Sydney Film Festival
Photograph: Supplied

Stream free movies on Kanopy with a library membership

News Film

If you hadn’t signed up for Netflix before the Great Indoors took hold, chances are you’re a paid-up subscriber of the world's most popular streaming service now. But did you know you can also access thousands of fantastic movies for free with nothing more than a virtual library card on Kanopy? Just sign up to your local library online or use your university ID, then jump on over to the Kanopy website (or app). Register for free using your ID and voila, thousands of films stashed in their vast repository of awesome are now ready to stream direct to your TV/laptop.New additions include the absolutely barmy, darkly comic Guns Akimbo. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, he plays a computer game nerd sucked into a life or death battle with pew pews strapped to his arms. Totally nuts, it also features Aussie Samara Weaving. It’s safe to say that, not unlike farting corpse movie Swiss Army Man, Radcliffe is choosing projects that are as far away from the family-friendly magic of Harry Potter as possible these days.

Press shot of Courtney Barnett playing a guitar on a bed
Photograph: Supplied

Nooks and Crannies

Music Your place, Sydney

A small constellation of stars inlcuding local legend Courtney Barnett sing their souls out under the sails of the Opera House. Listen in as she works a soul-stirring version of ‘Sunday Roast’ set in the stunning surrounds of Bennelong Restaurant. Soulful star Moses Sumney does ‘Don't Bother Calling’ from the Joan Sutherland Theatre orchestra pit and The National aren't 'Hard To Find' in this unique musical look at the harbour icon. 

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Giraffe at Taronga Zoo
Photograph: Supplied

Taronga TV

News City Life

Live: Now with events announced on Facebook

Taronga Zoo has upped the ante with the launch of Taronga TV, a new digital platform streaming animal enclosures, behind-the-scenes 'sneak peeks’ and after-hours footage revealing what the keepers and the animals they care for get up to when the park is closed to the public. Alongside this streaming content, there is also an archive of online resources for teachers and parents who may be homeschooling their kids at the moment, featuring fun yet educational materials about exotic wildlife, local fauna and the natural world. 

Check out these online events from Melbourne

Dan Spielman and Izabella Yena in Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes
Photograph: Jeff Busby

Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes

Theatre

Content note: this review discusses sexual harassment and assault. 

There has been so much awful, really stomach-churning sexual violence in our public spheres lately – from the perversity of Weinstein and Epstein, to our own stinking corridors of power – that it feels like we may be wading too deep in the sewage by even going to a play called Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes. But Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch has fashioned a charged two-hander that burrows into the systemic power imbalances that gave rise to the #MeToo movement without making us feel dirty in the process. Whether she burrows deep enough, indeed, whether we should feel so cleanly entertained after this kind of exploration, is a question that lingers after the lights go pointedly down.

Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes is available to stream via MTC Digital Theatre until July 27. Head to the website to book your digital video pass.

An image of three magpies on an abstract background of blues and browns
Photograph: © Ammie Howell and BJ O’Toole

Parrwang Lifts the Sky

Music Classical and opera

Audiences around Australia can discover a traditional Wadawurrung story imagined as an all-ages opera in Parrwang Lifts the Sky. Written and composed by acclaimed soprano Deborah Cheetham (Yorta Yorta), Parrwang Lifts the Sky is based on a traditional Wadawurrung tale about a magpie – Parrwang  who hatches a plan with his new human friends Tjatjarrang (Big Sister) and Koki (Brother) to raise the sky from the ground and lift the world out of darkness. Parrwang Lifts the Sky is sung in English and Wadawurrung and is available to view on-demand for six months from June 19 (following the unfortunate cancellation of its in-person season due to Melbourne's fourth lockdown). 

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The MSO
Photograph: Supplied

Enjoy the MSO at home thanks to the orchestra's streaming service

News Music

You may remember that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra was one of the first arts organisations to pivot at the start of the 2020 lockdowns, streaming live performances to audiences at home and continuing to offer live and archived online performances throughout Melbourne's first and second lockdowns. The move might have come from necessity, but it's proven popular. So popular in fact that the MSO now offers a year-round streaming service called MSO Live. The service lets you listen to – and watch – the MSO perform live and online with new concerts added monthly. For fans of classical and orchestral music, it's a pretty neat way to engage with the arts wherever you are, with performances featuring some of the biggest names in the industry (as well as emerging musicians). There's also talks, family performances and content, and audio recordings from archives. The service is largely available via a subscription model, with prices starting at $12 a month for a yearly subscription. A small amount of content is available for free. 

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