Experience our city at its best with the Sydney Festival. Conceived in 1977, Sydney Festival has now grown to be one of Australia’s most significant cultural events. Every year the Festival hosts an array of internationally acclaimed artists alongside premiere works by Australian talents. The likes of Bjork, PJ Harvey, The Wooster Group, and Robert Lepage have graced stages around Sydney for two weeks across January.
We love Sydney Festival because it encapsulates everything we adore about this city! Art, culture, good food, wine, and great weather. We’ve put together our list of top picks for the Festival this year.
‘I’m a Phoenix, B**ch’ – Bryony Kimmings
It’s possible that a musical comedy about post-natal depression might not sound like your idea of a great night out, but hear us out! Hailing from London, Bryony Kimming’s is one of the UK’s most significant performance makers. Having created her first show, Sex Idiot, around a positive STI test, (which toured to Adelaide in 2014 and Perth in 2015), Kimmings is no stranger to dealing with taboos. I’m A Phoenix, B**ch is no exception to the rule, exploring the year her entire life fell to pieces, losing her mind, her partner, her house and nearly her child. Incorporating catchy tunes, film projections, elaborate sets, and soundscapes, I’m A Phoenix B**ch! is a compelling, tender reminder of how to learn to fly even in the worst of circumstances.
‘Tell Me Why’ – Archie Roach
Earlier this month Archie Roach released his much-awaited memoir and accompanying album, Tell Me Why. A self-described ‘stolen child, teenage alcoholic, seeker, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, social advocate and First Nations leader,’ Tell Me Why is a chance for fans to delve deeper into the many complex lives of Archie Roach. Celebrating the release of the book and new album, and featuring six tracks that have never been recorded before, Roach will take the stage alongside his five-piece band, at the City Recital Hall.
‘The White Album’ – Early Morning Opera
“We tell our selves stories in order to live” starts Joan Didion’s seminal text, The White Album. Written in 1979, this iconic literary mosaic will be brought to life by actress Mia Barron, alongside a chorus of 25 young audience members. After a hugely successful season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, this bold theatrical staging makes it Australian premiere for four nights only. The White Album is presented by the Early Morning Opera, a genre-bending performance collective using emergent technologies to explore unclassifiable experiences, and political activism. Lars Jan, director of The White Album and founder of Early Morning Opera, has exhibited work at the Whitney Museum, Sundance Film Festival, and BAM Next Wave Festival.
‘Frontera’ – Animals of Distinction
“Electrifying… like holding on for dear life to a power line downed in a storm that keeps thrashing and sparking” – The Guardian (for Monumental)
For Canadian choreographer, Dana Gingrad and her collective, Animals of Distinction, the body and movement are the key to stimulating audiences’ awareness around complexity, connectivity, and complicity within their physical, social, and emotional lives. In their latest work, they explore the cost that an era of rising nationalism and mass surveillance takes on our physical selves, asking: what space remains for the unruly, ungovernable body? Performed within an intricate field of sound, light and projections, (a collaboration with United Visual Artists (UVA) and live music by Canadian post-rockers Fly Pan Am and Dave Bryant) Frontera is sure to be a memorable night out.
‘The Visitors’ – Moogahlin Performing Arts
January, 1788. A strange sight greets those gathered on the shore of Gadigal land – ships of a type and size never seen before. Where are they from? Who and what do they carry? Should the strangers be welcomed – or should the clans rise as one and resist?
Moogahlin Performing Arts is a leading First Peoples performing arts company based in Redfern. In January 2020, they present the world premiere of The Visitors, a collaboration with Sydney Festival and Carriageworks transporting audiences back to a pivotal moment in Australian history. This world premiere play, written by Murawari women Jane Harrison and directed by Moogahlin Artistic Director, Bunuba man Frederick Copperwaite features an ensemble cast, depicting seven lawmen who meet after the event and decide how to proceed.
‘Air Play’ – Acrobuffos
Accroubuffos make seriously sophisticated mime. Holding audiences in the palm of their hands, they create poetic, spectacular images using simple, everyday objects. Flying umbrellas, floating larger-than-life balloons, touching narratives told through physical theatre; these are hardly your average clowns. Artists Christina Gelsone and Seth Bloom are a husband and wife clowning duo. In Air Play, they perform the roles of two friends rollicking through life on a series of hilarious adventures. Some serious fun for the whole family, Air Play is not to be missed.
Find an experience to elevate your everyday at the official Sydney Festival website.