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SYDNEY FESTIVAL 2010 – Arts and Culture Highlights

Written by Nic Connaughton on November 5, 2009

Last years festival saw the inimitable Grace Jones bring her “Hurricane” tour to Australia and also saw the epic 8 hr (across 2 night) reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s ‘War of The Roses’ plays, staged at Sydney Theater Company and starring Cate Blanchett. This years program also has a distinctly Shakespearean feel, with renowned German theatre house, Berlin’s Schaubühne bringing their blood and soil interpretation of Hamlet, along with a string of shows with a severe Oedipus Complex.

What follows below is a quick guide to some of the highlights announced the 2010 Arts program:

JOHN CALE KEYNOTE ADDRESS (January 15 at 8.30pm, York Theatre,Seymour Centre):

John Cale (avant-guard musical legend, and living cultural touchstone) presents the Keynote Address for Circa 1979: Signal to Noise at the York Theatre, exploring New York avant garde, proto-punk and his work with Andy Warhol. Post-talk, is the Circa 1979: Signal to Noise Opening Night Party with DJs Magic Happens and Graz, and the inveiling of the Signal to Noise exhibition. John Cale also performs a concert at the Enmore Theatre.

HAMLET, Schaubühne Berlin (January 8, 11, 12, 14-16 at 8pm and January 10 at 5pm, Sydney Theatre Walsh Bay):

This most-quoted of plays is pushed to the extreme in the long-awaited Sydney debut of one of the world’s great theatre houses, Berlin’s Schaubühne. Director Thomas Ostermeier’s audacious production finds new human revelations and fresh political insights in the centuries-old story of Denmark’s corrupt court – a system that has become a paranoid maze for Hamlet. Murder, betrayal, manipulation and sexuality are just some of the weapons he uses in his fight to presere power.


SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR, Headlong Theatre (January 20-31st at York Theatre, Seymour Centre)

Following its critically acclaimed run on London’s West End, Headlong’s radical re-imagining of this celebrated satire comes to Sydney Festival. Six strangers arrive unannounced during the editing of a docu-drama, adamant they are fictional characters in search of an author. As the compelling narrative unfolds, their story is filmed and becomes entwined with the footage already being edited.

OEDIPUS REX & THE SYMPHONY OF PSALMS, Sydney Sympony Orchestra and Peter Sellars (January 28-30 at 8pm, Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House):

This rarely-performed double bill of Stravinsky masterworks features an epic staging by internationally acclaimed director Peter Sellars.
Sellars’ production, created for a reconfigured Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, is brutally dramatic, visceral and starkly unadorned apart from seven magnificent thrones, created by Ethiopian artist Elias Sime to represent the main characters in the tragedy.

OEDIPUS LOVES YOU, Pan Pan Theatre Dublin (January 21-25 at the Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre):

Anarchic Dublin company Pan Pan Theatre’s punk rock sensibility strikes a fierce chord in this savvy update of Sophocles’ classic drama of the ultimate dysfunctional family. They bring decidedly modern twists and ample humour to their explorations and yet stay more true to the thrust and themes of the original than you might first think. Oedipus is still counselled by the wise Tiresias, but now the sightless sage is a Freudian analyst and ex-glam rocker. Sexual desire runs unchecked and tensions still seethe, but now the backdrop is the BBQ grill of Oedipus’ suburban hideaway.

THE MANGANIYAR SEDUCTION (January 11-14 at the York Theatre, Seymour Centre):

With a showman’s flair, director Roysten Abel has transformed a traditional Indian music concert into a dazzling theatrical event, placing 43 Rajasthani musicians in a whimsical ‘magic box’ structure. Inspired by the windows of Amsterdam’s red light district, the individual curtained compartments are framed by carnival lights, opening one by one to reveal one solo musician, then another and another.


PARTY, The Invisible Dot (January 12-17 at the Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre):

From a humble garden shed in deepest suburbia, a group of young idealists form a new political party to save the world from itself.
Winner of a 2009 Fringe First Award, Party is a new comic play about small minds tackling big issues – China, sex trafficking, cycle lanes, unfair trade coffee and when, exactly, they should break for cake.

GISELLE, Fabulous Beast (January 20-24th at Carriage Works):

Described as “one of the most daring and highly original dance theatre companies in the world” (The Times), Fabulous Beast is an international ensemble led by Irish director and choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan. Nominated for an Olivier Award following its London premiere, this radical reinterpretation of the romantic ballet is dark, shocking and sinister, illuminated with brilliant flashes of absurd humour. Keegan-Dolan and his virtuosic cast blend speech, song, stunning imagery and superb choreography in this uncompromising production.

TEMPEST: BODY WITHOUT A BODY, Lemi Ponifaso, MAU (January 10 at Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre):

In Tempest: without a body, choreographer Lemi Ponifasio has created a poignant, poetic and frighteningly beautiful reflection on the post-9/11 world. An angel with a broken body and crumpled wings too small for flight, wanders on the landscape of blood and destruction. The dancers of the MAU company emerge from the shadows to pray on the ruins of history. First staged at the Vienna Festival in 2007, Tempest: without a body interweaves Shakespeare’s The Tempest’s themes of institutional injustice with the ideas of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben.

and of course….

FESTIVAL FIRST NIGHT, which sets the streets of sydney alive with a selection of artsist from the Festival performing for free to a crowd of in excess of 200,000. NOT TO BE MISSED!

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