A quick guide to Sydney Festival

Navigating through the Sydney Festival Program can be complicated, so the team have scoured through every page across every date and made a quick and easy list for you by event type.

THEATRE & OPERA

Jan 23-27 (Roslyn Packer Theatre), Beware of Pity, Sydney Festival; Schaubühne Berlin presents its first work with Complicité (UK) director Simon McBurney. This bold, technically adventurous and  sexually charged staging of Austrian Stefan Zweig’s 1939 novel is a masterful and newly prescient portrait of a Europe stumbling  toward chaos.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/beware-of-pity

Jan 9-18 (Roslyn Packer Theatre), HOME, Sydney Festival; a large-scale performance work by multi-award-winning theatre-maker Geoff Sobelle, combining theatre, choreography, illusion, live music, and audience interaction in a magical meditation on the meaning of home. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/home

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Jan 11-Feb 2 (Sydney Town Hall), Counting and Cracking, Sydney Festival; sixteen actors play four generations of a Sri Lankan family in this world premiere about Australia as a land of refuge, staged in Sydney Town Hall and served with a communal meal.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/counting-and-cracking

Jan 10-13 (Carriageworks), Daughter, Sydney Festival; this Australian premiere is a provocative one-man monologue confronting toxic masculinity performed by award-winning Canadian performer Adam Lazarus. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/daughter

Jan 16-20 (Carriageworks), The Chat, Sydney Festival; devised and performed by ex-offenders, this is a dark and comic exploration into the realities of the criminal justice system created by theatre maker and former parole officer JR Brennan.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/the-chat

Jan 23-26 (Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House), Man With The Iron Neck, Sydney Festival; a powerful new work by leading physical theatre company Legs on the Wall and written by Ursula Yovich about a family embracing life after trauma and addressing the issue of suicide amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders youths.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/man-with-the-iron-neck

Jan 16-20 (Carriageworks), Deer Woman, Sydney Festival; a solo theatre performance about one woman’s vengeance for her sister in a country where 1,600 Indigenous women and girls are currently recognized as being missing or murdered, performed by Canadian First Nations actor and activist Cherish Violet Blood. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/deer-woman

Jan 9-11 (Carriageworks), La Passion de Simone, Sydney Festival; a new interpretation of the story of French Holocaust philosopher and activist Simone Weil performed by the Sydney Chamber Opera in a deeply spiritual contemporary opera.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/la-passion-de-simone

Jan 18-23 (Carriageworks), The Weekend, Sydney Festival; a one-woman play by Henrietta Baird following a family’s search for a new beginning.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/the-weekend

Jan 12-20 (Upstairs, Belvoir St Theatre), Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, Sydney Festival; inspired by the real-life stories of two Romanian Jews seeking refuge in Canada in 1908, this is a dark, funny and high-energy hybrid of music and theatre starring acclaimed musician Ben Caplan. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/old-stock-a-refugee-love-story

Jan 23-27 (Upstairs, Belvoir St Theatre), The Iliad – Out Loud, Sydney Festival; actor William Zappa brings Homer’s epic Iliad to life in this new nine hour adaptation performed by four actors and featuring a live score of percussion and oud.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/the-iliad-out-loud

Jan 9-19 (Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House), A Ghost in My Suitcase, Sydney Festival; A family theatre show by Barking Gecko, about ghosts, grief and a secret family gift, adapted from Gabrielle Wang’s award-winning children’s novel. Twelve-year-old Celeste visits China to scatter her mother’s ashes, where she reunites with her gutsy grandma and is thrust into the thrilling world of ghost-hunting.

Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/a-ghost-in-my-suitcase

Jan 7-19 (SBW Stables Theatre) & Jan 22-25 (Raffertys Theatre, Riverside Theatres), Since Ali Died, Sydney Festival; spoken word poet Omar Musa unleashes a suite of politically-charged and deeply personal storytelling, rap and song inspired by the passing of his hero, boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
Links: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/since-ali-died-parramatta and https://sydneyfestival.org.au/since-ali-died-sydney

Jan 25-Feb 5 (Sydney Opera House, Joan Sutherland Theatre), Wozzeck, Sydney Festival; William Kentridge, one of the greatest visual artists of our time, directs Alban Berg’s opera about a hapless soldier driven mad by army life and his faithless lover.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/wozzeck

Jan 16-20 (Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House), In The Heights, Sydney Festival; the return of the Tony Award-winning musical written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda which is set in Manhattan’s vibrant, close-knit Hispanic-American neighbourhood.

Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/in-the-heights

Jan 24-26 (Carriageworks), Yellamundie National First Peoples Playwriting Festival, Sydney Festival; a  showcase for new and  distinct voices in Australian  theatre, Yellamundie  is  a biennial  celebration of  national and international  First Peoples playwriting. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/yellamundie

CIRCUS, CABARET & DANCE

Jan 10-20 (Riverside Theatre), Shànghǎi MiMi, Sydney Festival; this world premiere cabaret inspired by 1930s Shanghai is directed by the award-winning Moira Finucane and includes thrilling performances from an international cast of dancers, acrobats, aerialists and a live band playing long-lost vintage Chinese jazz and blues.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/shanghai-mimi

Jan 8-27 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Pigalle, Sydney Festival; Marcia Hines leads an international cast of performers in this world premiere disco-burlesque-cabaret set in an old Parisian nightclub with a soundtrack of ‘70s classics.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/pigalle

Jan 23-27 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Le Gateau Chocolat: ICONS, Sydney Festival; cabaret sensation Le Gateau Chocolat performs a joyous and moving tribute to the musical icons that shaped his life.

Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/le-gateau-chocolat-icons

Jan 17 & 18 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent Festival Garden), Paul Capsis with Jethro Woodward & The Fitzroy Youth Orchestra, Sydney Festival; Paul Capsis, accompanied by a high-octane rock band, lights up rock music’s dark side, interpreting songs by artists such as Patti Smith, Lana Del Rey and Led Zeppelin. Link:

https://sydneyfestival.org.au/paul-capsis-with-jethro-woodward-and-the-fitzroy-youth-orchestra

Jan 11-13 (Prince Alfred Square, Parramatta), Circus Comes to Town, Sydney Festival; a weekend of circus fun including Mallakhambindia performances, Heliosphere, Flying Trapeze workshops and Aerialize affordable circus skills workshops.
Link: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/circus-comes-to-town

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Jan 10-13 (Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres), Rock Bang (Circus Oz), Sydney Festival; Australia’s leading circus troupe joins forces with art-rock comedy duo Otto & Astrid in an electric new show combining acrobatics, laughter and head-banging live music.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/rock-bang

Jan 11-13 (Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres), Splash Test Dummies, Sydney Festival; an hour of aquatic adventures from the family circus trio including juggling, synchronised swimming on unicycles, human balancing acts and water skiing through the theatre.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/splash-test-dummies

DANCE

Jan 11-20 (QT Sydney), Biladurang, Sydney Festival; A dark, sexy and intimate solo work  by Wiradjuri dancer and choreographer Joel Bray, loosely echoing the story of the Biladurang – the platypus.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/biladurang

Jan 23-27 (Carriageworks), One Infinity, Sydney Festival; this cross-cultural music and dance performance is a collaboration between choreographer Gideon Obarzanek, recorder  virtuoso Genevieve Lacey, Chinese guqin master Wang Peng, composer Max de Wardener, Beijing Dance Theatre and contemporary dance troupe Dancenorth, where the audience become performers.

Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/one-infinity

Jan 9-13 (Carriageworks), Dust, Sydney Festival; a new work by contemporary dance company Dancenorth questions personal, cultural and political inheritance, featuring live violin from Canada’s Jessica Moss (Thee Silver Mt Zion) and an architecturally designed set by award-winning Liminal Spaces.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/dust

Jan 19 (City Recital Hall), The Nutcracker and I, Sydney Festival; Tchaikovsky’s classic tale is reimagined by renowned pianist Alexandra Dariescu in a contemporary multimedia performance merging piano, ballet and digital animations.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/the-nutcracker-and-i

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MUSIC

Jan 25 (Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House), Spinifex Gum, Sydney Festival; Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill of The Cat Empire join Marliya from Gondwana Choirs, a choir of young Indigenous women, for musical snapshots of life in the Pilbara, with special guests Briggs, Emma Donovan and Peter Garrett.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/spinifex-gum

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Jan 15 & 16 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Orquesta Akokán, Sydney Festival; this big band mambo collective comprised of Cuba’s finest musicians brings the party direct from Havana, celebrating music of the 1940s and 50s.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/orquesta-akokan

Jan 15 & 16 (Carriageworks), Neneh Cherry, Sydney Festival; Swedish rebel icon of trip hop and feminist pop brings her albums Broken Politics and Blank Project to Sydney.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/neneh-cherry

Jan 18 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Nakhane, Sydney Festival; South Africa’s Nakhane sings sultry synth-pop with emotive, fragile vocals and a charismatic presence.

Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/nakhane

Jan 24 (City Recital Hall), Lucibela, Sydney Festival; Cape Verdean singer Lucibela performs Portuguese-folk-influenced sounds of the West African islands in this Australian Exclusive. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/lucibela

Jan 19 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Les Filles De Illighadad, Sydney Festival; Niger’s only women-led band play the haunting desert blues of traditional Tuareg guitar folk. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/les-filles-de-illighadad

Jan 10-13 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Camille O’Sullivan: Where Are We Now?, Sydney Festival; in an Australian premiere, singer and storyteller-in-song Camille O’Sullivan interprets songs of her late heroes David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/camille-osullivan

Jan 20 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Julia Holter, Sydney Festival; art-pop composer Julia Holter brings her distinctive sound to Sydney, holding influences from a range of genres together with her electronic harpsichord and delicate vocals.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/julia-holter

Jan 22 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Mulatu Astatke & the Black Jesus Experience, Sydney Festival; the father of Ethio-jazz performs his blend of African and Western-inspired jazz, backed by Melbourne ensemble band Black Jesus Experience.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/mulatu-astatke

Jan 17 (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Jonathan Bree, Sydney Festival; New Zealand indie pop royalty Jonathan Bree delivers a sultry and self-effacing masterclass in clever pop songwriting.

Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/jonathan-bree

Jan 12 (Carriageworks), Ben Frost: Widening Gyre, Sydney Festival; experimental Australian composer Ben Frost uses 2017’s critically acclaimed The Centre Cannot Hold as a departure point into Widening Gyre, a new kaleidoscopic multi-sound environment performed in the round. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/ben-frost

Jan 11, 12 & 13 (Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre), Mary Lattimore, Sydney Festival; performing in the Harry Seidler-designed Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, harpist Mary Lattimore plucks arpeggios and otherworldly loops played through speakers submerged in the pool.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/events/mary-lattimore

Jan 12 (Harry and Penelope Seidler House), Elena Kats-Chernin, Sydney Festival; renowned Australian composer and pianist Elena Kats-Cherrin performs works from her ARIA number one albums as well as live improvisations responding to the Harry and Penelope Seidler House.

Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/events/elena-kats-chernin

Jan 23-25 (Seidler Penthouse), Lori Goldston, Sydney Festival; Seattle cellist Lori Goldston plays songs, improvisations and compositions that restlessly explore the far reaches of the instrument’s voice. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/events/lori-goldston

Jan 18-20 (Julian Rose House and Rose Seidler House), Chuck Johnson/ Laurence Pike, Sydney Festival; a double-bill featuring two acclaimed artists Laurence Pike and Chuck Johnson.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/events/laurence-pike-chuck-johnson

9-27 January  (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Festival Garden), Dollar Bin Darlings, Sydney Festival; Sydney’s fabulous DJing duo spin fruity disco records found in bargain bins from Wednesdays to Saturdays in the Festival Garden.Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/dollar-bin-darlings

Jan 12 (City Recital Hall), Bridge of Dreams, Sydney Festival; an Indian-Australian jazz collaboration featuring Hindustani singer Shubha Mudgal, jazz saxophonist Sandy Evans and the 17-piece jazz  super-collective Sirens Big Band, who showcase Sydney’s leading female and trans musicians. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/bridge-of-dreams

Jan 12 & 13 (Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre), Suppression Dam, Sydney Festival; three celebrated art music ensembles – Ensemble Offspring, International Contemporary Ensemble and Ensemble Adapter – combine in a world exclusive. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/suppression-dam

INSTALLATIONS

Jan 9-27 (World Square), Fly Me To The Moon, Sydney Festival; marking the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Sydney Festival is inviting everyone to collectively cycle 384,400 kilometres to the moon. Participants can pedal on World Square’s Lunar Velocipede; get  involved  in organised  rides; or donate  the kilometres from  their daily travel or  gym sessions.

Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/fly-me-to-the-moon

Jan 9-27 (Barangaroo South), Apollo 11, Sydney Festival; 11 artworks and participatory experiences commemorating the 1969 space flight that first landed people on the moon.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/apollo-11

Jan 9-27 (Barangaroo Reserve), ALWAYS, Sydney Festival; Barangaroo headland will host a large scale outdoor sculpture by local  Bangarra artist in residence Jacob Nash, featuring the declaration  ‘ALWAYS’: always was, always will be. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/always

Jan 25 (Barangaroo Reserve), The Vigil, Sydney Festival; a  vigil will be held overnight  to reflect on the impact of colonisation  in Australia, the significance of the day before  the First Fleet arrived, and what happened after, with musical performances and stories of Country from current and future community Elders. Link: https://2019.sydneyfestival.org.au/events/the-vigil

VISUAL ART

Jan 11-March 3 (Cement Fondu), The Ropes: Amrita Hepi, Sydney Festival; artist, dancer and choreographer Amrita Hepi’s newly commissioned video installation explores the history of skipping with aspects of blak experience. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/the-ropes-amrita-hepi

Jan 10-12 (Art Gallery of NSW), Masters of Modern Sound, Sydney Festival; an after-dark experience in art, space and sound, with leading Australian and international composers, musicians, sound designers, and performers. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/masters-of-modern-sound

Jan 19-March 24 (4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art), Xiao Lu: Impossible Dialogue, Sydney Festival; the first retrospective of this leading contemporary Chinese artist, anchored in her landmark 1989 performance work Dialogue, in which the artist fired two bullets at her own art installation.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/xiao-lu-impossible-dialogue

Jan 14-23 (Museum of Contemporary Art), Article 14.1, Sydney Festival; A 10 day durational performance by Australian artist Phuong Ngo, who relives  the momentous journey of his parents’ immigration by boat from Vietnam in 1981. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/article-141

Nov 23-March 3 (Carriageworks), Nick Cave: Until, Sydney Festival; American artist  Nick Cave’s largest and most thought-provoking  installation, speaking to the urgent issues of  gun violence and race in America. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/nick-cave-until

Jan 18-March 31 (Artspace), Just not Australian, Sydney Festival; leading local artists from different generations and media, including Soda_Jerk and Abdul Abdullah, explore the origins and implications of Australian identity. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/just-not-australian

Jan 20 & Jan 23-27 (T5 Camouflage Fuel Tank, Georges Heights), T5 Tank Sound Project, Sydney Festival; four  new site-specific artworks  by renowned Sydney-based sound  artists Chris Caines and Gail Priest,  and experimental, multi-disciplinary artists  David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, premiere at  a massive decommissioned military fuel tank hidden  in Mosman. Includes a live performance on the 20 January. Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/t5-tank-sound-project

Jan 21-28 (Museum of Contemporary Art), Blood Money Currency Exchange Terminal, Sydney Festival; a provocative, participatory installation that  reinvents the national currency as a celebration of Aboriginal  history.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/blood-money-currency-exchange-terminal

Jan 5-Feb 23 (UNSW Galleries), The Beehive, Sydney Festival; an innovative video installation by artist Zanny Begg and creative producer Philippa Bateman addressing the mystery 1975 disappearance of heiress and anti-development campaigner Juanita Neilsen.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/the-beehive

PARRAMATTA & WESTERN SYDNEY

Jan 9-2 Feb (Blacktown Showground Precinct), Blak Box, Sydney Festival;  the voices of Elders  and future leaders from  Blacktown’s Indigenous community  feature in Four  Winds,  a surround-sound  ‘deep listening’ experience  curated by Daniel Browning.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/blak-box

Jan 19 (The Crescent Parramatta Park), Sydney Symphony Under the Stars, Sydney Festival; the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performs a selection of iconic film music and well-known classical favourites by Rossini, Strauss, Tchaikovsky and more.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/sydney-symphony-under-the-stars

Jan 11-13 (Prince Alfred Square, Parramatta), Circus Comes to Town, Sydney Festival; a weekend of circus fun beginning with an opening parade. The weekend will include performances from five of India’s best Mallakhamb artists presenting the ancient sport rarely seen outside of India; the Heliosphere, a giant moon-like sphere, flying 20 metres in the air with a talented aerialist performing twists and turns; Flying Trapeze and affordable circus skill workshops from Aerialize.
Link: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/circus-comes-to-town

Jan 10-13 (Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres), Rock Bang (Circus Oz), Sydney Festival; Australia’s leading circus troupe joins forces with art-rock comedy duo Otto & Astrid in an electric new show combining acrobatics, laughter and head-banging live music.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/rock-bang

Jan 11-13 (Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres), Splash Test Dummies, Sydney Festival; an aquatic adventure from the family circus trio – including juggling, synchronized swimming on unicycles, human balancing acts and water skiing through the theatre.
Link: https://sydneyfestival.org.au/splash-test-dummies

Joseph Lloyd, Contributor

More information on www.sydneyfestival.org.au

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