A stroll in the park and you might see an acrobat, a visit to a local gallery and there’s a murder mystery taking place.
You should expect the unexpected to occur in the least likely of places, as Anywhere Festival returns to Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Moreton Bay.
The mastermind behind the concept, CEO and Founder Paul Osuch, is delighted the festival can return in 2022. Last year’s event saw Paul gather all the different ideas, live performances, more formal venues, and a hub space with 30 different productions happening simultaneously. But it was all the weird and wonderful nook and cranny things taking place in 2021 that, as Paul says, people loved the best. It’s that concept that they’ve focused on for this year’s event. “We’ve spilt it all up,” Paul begins. “This year, Anywhere will go back to what it does best, and that’s any kind of performance in weird places, and all the people interested in [performing] in a boxed space, we said, ‘well, we’ll create a Fringe Festival’.”
That Fringe Festival will run this October and November, when Anywhere can be, in Paul’s words, all about the weird and the kooky. “There’s been a couple of attempts at a Brisbane Fringe,” Paul says of an extra arm on Anywhere. “We’ve got so many people, about 200 expressions of interest, and we intentionally wanted to make sure the programme – in Brisbane particularly – was something that fit on to a fold-out sheet of A4 paper that could fit on a wall, so that anybody looking at it will be able to navigate it and see what’s on, instead of going ‘I don’t know where to start!’”
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For anyone who’s never been to Anywhere Festival before. . . An exciting array of comedy, dance, circus acts and far more happening, as the name suggests, anywhere; churches, museums, gardens, you name it, it’s likely happening. “I just saw a Facebook comment on an ad we’re running,” Paul begins. “Somebody wrote ‘I just don’t get what Anywhere Festival is’. So, here’s what Anywhere Festival is.
“We’ve got shows in a planetarium, shows in a World War II testing bay. Things in backyards and front yards, driveways and nature reserves, all that kind of stuff.
“So yes, all kinds of performance – theatre, a lot more immersive performance, a lot of people really getting into that as performers. [There’s] also comedy, circus, and a lot of music this year as well.”
And on the music side of things, they don’t stick with just the one style, with Paul saying events under that creative platform will encompass all genres. “Everything from a singer-songwriter performing in a weird alleyway through to an established high art concept four-piece performing in one of our places, Australian Modern, a house that always hosts one of our shows. A whole mix – everything from Thai music to high concept classical to four-to-the-floor disco.”
Indeed, one of the music events is particularly special. ‘Planets, Pianos And Projections’ sees Gustav Holst’s seminal work ‘The Planets’ arranged for two pianos, set to be performed at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, combining the classical work with an astrological experience. And, at the other end of the performing arts spectrum, the bill boasts the exciting immersive piece ‘Necklace’, taking place at Empire Revival.
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In fact, the website for Anywhere Festival is just as unexpected and kooky as the event itself. Per the suggestion on the website’s homepage, if you click ‘refresh’ on your browser, a new arrangement of highlighted performances is displayed. A lovely niche feature indeed, the excitement begins here. If the sensations of enticement and giddy joy elicited from that kooky little feature are anything to go by, then Anywhere Festival is bound to conjure a great sense of interest and wonderment. “You see the images and they tell a story,” says Paul, “and we worked really hard with all the acts to make sure their imagery really does work and can convey what they’re all about.
“The whole idea, and I know it’s something I love, is just to have a smaller choice, and to go to something random. That’s what pushed that idea for the website.
“And for people that just want to search a particular area or particular genre, they can just go to that as well.”
The rollout of Anywhere Festival sees events serving as something of bookends either side of the Brisbane line-up. To begin, Anywhere kicks off on the Sunshine Coast and Noosa before events explode in Brisbane, and finally tie off in Moreton Bay. “This is a new thing we’ve got happening,” explains Paul, “it allows a journey outside of Brisbane and to go ‘Okay, cool, I want to see some of the stuff on the Sunshine Coast’, because they always do some fantastic Anywhere stuff up there.
“Then, to see the huge programme Moreton Bay have got, where they’re really packing it into a weekend so people can go to a particular part of the town and know there’s a whole bunch of different things on.
“We had so many people say they wanted to go and see stuff in the Sunshine Coast or Brisbane, but all the stuff was on at the same time – by doing this, people can spend time on the coast. It seems to be working!”
'Murder At The Bowlo'
For Paul, there are several stand-out venues and performances happening this year. “I want to get to the show that’s at the Allison Engine Testing Stands – ‘A Matter Of Material’ is one show that’s on there. It’s such a unique space and so few people know about it. Down by the Maritime Museum, there will be a film projected there, but a band will provide the musical accompaniment to the whole film – fascinating.
“This whole thing of 'immersive' has become a big thing, as well. There are so many where the audience capacity is six or ten, and it’s going to be such an intimate experience. One show, ‘Hello Stranger’, you’re invited to experience three different families, overlapped in one spot. I’m also really keen on seeing ‘Murder At The Bowlo’ – in a sports club, it’s like Paul Hogan meets Cluedo.
“I hope that this year, people can dip in and just discover and not feel overwhelmed by it all. The second thing we want people to take away is rediscovering or experiencing for the first time, the spaces outside.
“We spend so much time being in our spare room working on our computers, we have so many wonderful spaces that take on their own lives. Once we put on these shows in there, people have this new shared experience with this space that they’re always going to have, and I think that’s the key thing that helps people to rediscover all the wonderful nooks and crannies in these cities.” Anywhere Festival 2022 takes place on the Sunshine Coast and Noosa 29 April-22 May, Brisbane from 5-22 May, and Moreton Bay 14 May-5 June.