Sydney Festival 2020 Programme

Published in Arts News  
L-R, Top-Bottom: 'I'm A Phoenix, Bitch', Sydney Symphony Under The Stars, 'Betty Blokk-Buster Reimagined', 'The Aspie Hour' L-R, Top-Bottom: 'I'm A Phoenix, Bitch', Sydney Symphony Under The Stars, 'Betty Blokk-Buster Reimagined', 'The Aspie Hour'

Sydney Festival is set to engage minds, stir souls, and transform the city with its 2020 programme.


It's filled with the best of new Australian and international theatre, music, visual art, dance, and ideas in corners of the city both known and unknown. There are more than 75 large-scale public events, exhibitions, installations and performances including 46 new works, 14 world premieres, 4 Australian premieres and 6 Australian exclusives.

“Sydney Festival brings to our city the newest works from the world’s most adventurous artists,” Festival Director Wesley Enoch says. “We unearth the interesting, the new and the exciting. Wherever there is a debate to be had, a diversity of opinion or the need to speak the neglected story, Sydney Festival is there. We are proudly diverse. We are equal parts cultural ambition and celebration.”

Festival highlights include the return of all-ages festival favourites Opera In The Domain and Sydney Symphony Under The Stars, as well as Reg Livermore's gender-flexing 'Betty Blokk-Buster Reimagined' starring Josh Quong Tart. Lars Jan and Early Morning Opera will bring Joan Didion's 'The White Album' to the stage, and Canadian choreographer Dana Gringas and Animals Of Distinction will present 'Frontera'.

Meanwhile, French choreographer Francois Chaignaud and dramatist Nino Laisne present 'Romances Inciertos, Un Autre Orlando'. . . French stage and screen star Isabelle Adjani gives a searing portrayal of a performer on the brink in 'Opening Night', while festival-goers can participate in a smoking ceremony to reflect on Australia's Indigenous heritage at 'The Vigil' and 'Procession'.

There'll be a few new commissions in 2020, including 'BLACK TIES', 'Black Cockatoo', 'Anthem', and 'Two Crews'.

Black Ties GarthOriander
'BLACK TIES' – Image © Garth Oriander

The festival's Blak Out programme will put First Nations voices in the foreground, with stories and performances from communities across Australia, Canada, Aotearoa, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

'Bran Nue Dae' gets a revival and Ernie Dingo reprises his role as Uncle Tadpole. Proclamation is a large-scale art installation exploring Australia's diverse ideas about land and country, belonging and possession. In a world premiere from Moogahlin Performing Arts, 'The Visitors' will transport audiences to 1788 – a pivotal moment in history.

Music rings through the 2020 programme with contemporary and classical song, sound and storytelling being brought to audiences of all ages.

Opera In The Domain returns, as does festival favourite Sydney Symphony Under The Stars, while the likes of Archie Roach, Steve Kilbey, Tenebrae, Jeremy Dutcher, the Earshift Orchestra and more round out the remainder of the music offering.

Daniel Boyd will present three major works at Sydney Festival, contributing to the visual arts side of things. Campbelltown Arts Centre will host The Island, a career-spanning survey of the work of Vernon Ah Kee, while Who Are These Strangers And Where Are They Going? is a timely and powerful showcase of the work of Dr Fiona Foley and Taloi Havini's Reclamation highlights complex ties between Havini's place of birth and Australia.

The 2020 programme presents a range of works reflecting the diversity of the human experience, as Stephanie Lake unleashes 'Colossus', Hannah Cormick presents 'The Mermaid', James Galea reveals 'Poof! Secrets Of A Magician', and Sophie Smyth and Ryan Smedley combine their love of musical theatre in 'The Aspie Hour'.

Click here to check out the full programme. Sydney Festival takes place from 8-26 January.

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