Check out our picks below!
Image: Daniel Boud.
As 2022 comes to a close, Sydney Festival is set to make its return this January with a stacked program full of site-specific productions across the city of Sydney, made complete with diverse and cultural storytelling and performances.
The festivals 2023 edition, brought to life by Artistic Director Olivia Ansell, is set to host eighteen world premieres and fourteen Australian exclusives across the programs one hundred events. A series of specially commissioned works and collaborative projects will run throughout the month of January, with the program championing women-led and female identifying creative representation, environmental advocacy and powerful truth telling.
“There is nowhere better than Sydney to experience an exhilarating summer of art. Made possible by over 1,000 local and international participating artists and the rich diversity of stories and cultures shared. Please join us this January to see the city anew – from proud First Nation stories, inspiring international collaborations and remarkable one-off events to underbelly immersive experiences that only a city like Sydney could conjure.” Ansell shares.
We've selected a handful of events from Sydney Festival's 2023 program that we think are not to be missed! Check out our choices below.
FRIDA KAHLO: THE LIFE OF AN ICON
January 4 - March 7
The Cutaway at Barangaroo Point
Co-created by the Frida Kahlo Corporation and the renowned Spanish digital arts company Layers of Reality, Frida Kahlo: The Life Of An Icon is an immersive exhibition that highlights Kahlo's most famous works.
Featuring archival photographs and footage, the biographical installation will bring Kahlo's works to life, placing the viewer within the canvas through 360º projections and a virtual reality system, with the multi-sensory exhibition featuring Mexican music and live performances.
Attendees will also have the chance to create their own flower crowns, turn their drawings into Frida-esque artworks and immortalise themselves with a souvenir illustrated photo.
Carriageworks - Bay 17
Following its premiere at the 2022 Holland Festival, Antarctica will make its way to Sydney, performed by the Sydney Chamber Opera and Dutch new music ensemble, Asko | Schönberg. Focusing on three archetypes from the Age of Discovery, we follow a cartographer, natural scientist and philosopher as they explore an unknown land and brings together the past and the future.
The production sports an all-Australian cast and creative team, Director Imara Savage, designers Elizabeth Gadsby and Alexander Berlage, and filmmaker Mike Daly working together to create a captivating experience for audience members.
THE LUCID: A DREAM PORTAL TO AWAKENING
The CTA Business Club
Having its world premiere at Sydney Festival, The Lucid: A Dream Portal To Awakening is the latest project from multidisciplinary American artist Kelsey Lu. Taking over 28 rooms at The CTA Business Club, the giant mushroom-shaped, Seidler-designed building in Sydney’s Martin Place, attendees will be invited to reach new depths of their subconscious through the implementation of soundscapes that tests the triggers of lucid dreaming.
"My intention with this piece is to cushion the experience that exudes control of time and space, to link both harmony and dissonance between the present world and the frontiers of our consciousness all while playing with the joint idea that architecture speaks not of history but of time and the dreams that lie therein.” – Kelsey Lu
BONOBO (DJ SET): CALL TO THE NIGHT
Sydney Masonic Centre
Five-time GRAMMY-nominated musician/producer/DJ Bonobo returns to Sydney for an exclusive DJ set at in the Banquet Hall of the brutalist Masonic Centre.
On his latest record, Fragments, Bonobo perfectly walks the line between contemporary instrumentals and meaty hooks, building in emotional intensity. The same can be said for the producers engaging house-led DJ sets, creating a welcoming and dynamic environment for attendees to dance the night away.
Call to the Night is the nocturnal half of a series which celebrates Sydney’s special spaces and reflects its conflicted identity, capturing two very different moods of our city in a conversation between artist and place.
Roslyn Packer Theatre
In an Australian exclusive, Sydney Festival will host Swiss-born auteur James Thierrée's latest production, ROOM. The surreal performance brings the renowned circus superstars signature chaotic cannons, as he and his troupe deliver a frenzied spectacle that provides commentary on art, the body, the instrument and the everyday.
January 14 - 29
Belvoir St Theatre
Presented by Belvoir St Theatre in association with Sydney Festival, rising star Thomas Weatherall will debut his production Blue at Belvoir St Theatre. Written and performed by the actor, and directed by Bangarra alumni Deborah Brown, the piece is set to navigate the sensitivity of youthful crossroads and the fragility of life.
When Mark moved out of home for the first time his mum started writing him letters – just checking in, staying in touch, keeping a gentle hold on her son. Until one letter brings news no-one wants to hear.
CONTENT WARNING: Blue includes references to suicide, the use of coarse language, theatrical haze and herbal cigarettes.
January 19 - 22
Carriageworks - Bay 1
Following a season at Brisbane Festival, David Morton's Holding Achilles sets its scene during the Trojan War and offers a new take on the tale of Achilles. Exploring the queer aspects of The Iliad, the production explores Achilles' relationship with his unknown lover, Patroclus, whilst attempting to fulfil his mother’s prophecy.
Brought to the stage by Dead Puppet Society and Legs On The Wall, composers Tony Buchen and Chris Bear created an original score for Holding Achilles, performed live by Montaigne. The plays innovative aerial work, puppetry and outstanding ensemble make it one not to be missed next month at Carriageworks.
LIL SILVA & CHANEL LOREN, VV PETE
The Weary Traveller
British producer Lil Silva will bring his live show to Sydney Festival, supported by Sydney-based RNB singer Chanel Loren and grime-influenced Mount Druitt rapper Vv Pete.
Having been present within the scene for over a decade, last year Lil Silva treated us to his debut album, Yesterday Is Heavy. Bringing his signature smooth and funky synths and rhythms to the body of work, the album showcases just why the musician has written for the likes of Adele, Diplo and Mark Ronson. His charismatic and storytelling songwriting flow above driving percussion work and swelling strings, that will no doubt have audiences who attend his Sydney Festival performance mesmerised.
This performance is part of The Weary Traveller, a music series that transforms the iconic Siedler “mushroom” building in Sydney’s Martin Place into a late night music venue and pop-up bar.
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Sydney Festival runs from 5-29 January 2023. Visit here for Sydney Festvial's full 2023 program.