12 things to see out West during Sydney Festival

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The reach of Sydney Festival widens each year and we take a look at some of the world exclusives and unique installations on show at destination venues in the outer Western Suburbs with associate, Sydney Scoop.   A range of thrilling circus acts, cabaret and slapstick comedy set to the soundtracks of punk rock and lost soundtracks of 1930s Chinese jazz.   A thought provoking blend of rap and literature unlocks the thoughts and feelings from a Muslim-Australia perspective. Two days of action packed adrenaline rush experiences, open air orchestra and immersion into the First People’s concept of ‘deep listening’ will theme the Western Sydney cultural experience.

The complete program of events across all Western Sydney events and venues:

Prince Alfred Square:
The once colonial site of Parramatta’s second gaol, the 3.7 acre park sits at the heart of North Parramatta and will be the playground for a number of aerialists, from ancient Indian Mallakhamb, to flying machines and giant balloons.   The events below form the two day event called “Circus Comes to Town”.

HELIOSPHERE will see an acrobat suspended beneath a helium balloon flown twenty metres in the air spiralling, spinning and seemingly weightless.

FLYING TRAPEZE WORKSHOPS will run in two hour sessions as you experience the exhilarating feeling as you’re taught and learn about the various static, spinning, swinging and flying tricks the pros do.

MALLAKHAMBINDIA is a native Indian sport in which a wooden pole is used by a gymnast to perform aerial yoga postures, contortion and wrestling grips.
When:  11-13 Jan, Prices Vary as indicated in the links

The Crescent, Parrmatta Park – Sydney Symphony Under the Stars

If you’re not familiar with this part of Parramatta Park, it’s in fact a natural formation shaped like an amphitheatre along the river, hence the name.  At full capacity, the area around the stage can easily host up to 18,000 people.  It’s hosted a string of high profile guest performances including John Farnham, Midnight Oil, You Am I and Spiderbait.  For one night only, the open air stage will be taken over by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.   Conductor, Benjamin Northey will be leading the 100+ musicians with movie blockbuster musical scores and a suite of classics including Rossini, Strauss and Tchaikovsky.  The two hour showcase is free and open to the public.
When: 19 Jan, Free

Blacktown Show Precinct – Blak Box
Urban Theatre Projects is Western Sydney’s premier independent arts organisation. Blak Box is a collaboration with renowned architect, Kevin O’Brien, who is known for drawing on Aboriginal concepts of space and ABC Radio national host, Daniel Browning.  The custom built pavilion from a far is a luminous glow of white.  This sensory installation is based on ‘Deep Listening’, which was at the core of passing on stories and life lessons orally to the next generation.  A respectful means of listening to build community, upon entry, guests enter a soundscape of music and storytellers including voices of elders and future leaders from Blacktown’s Aboriginal community.
When: 9 Jan – 2 Feb, $35, Blacktown Showground Precinct

Casula Powerhouse Museum:ensemble_offspring_image_4Suppression Dam is a world exclusive that brings together Ensemble Offspring (Sydney), International Contemporary Ensemble (New York/Chicago) and Ensemble Adapter (Berlin) in a surround-sound experience.  The journey begins with an interactive communal sound project with Audience Choir, followed by a soundscape derived from the melodies of nature called ‘The Dam’ by Kate Moore.  Spatialised electronics, samples and live instruments are used in Natasha Anderson’s composition, ‘Cleave’ to close the show.   The performances are for two days with meal options available with tickets from their in-house restaurant, Bellbird Dining & Bar.
When: 12-13, $45 ($25 Concession), $70 with meal ($50 Concession)

Riverside Theatres:

Recently celebrating 30 years, Riverside hosts more than 700 productions annually across the three venues in this space.   Sydney Festival will host a number of productions here at their 88 seater Rafferty’s Theatres, The Lennox Theatre (213 seats) and their 761 main proscenium space, Riverside.

SHANGHAI MiMi stars the Qinghai Acrobatic Troupe from the edge of the Gobi dessert in Western China combining elements of acrobatics, dance and martial arts.  A display of plate spinning, hula hooping with metal hoops, jar juggling, aerial silk, diabolo and balancing acts.  It’s directed by internationally renowned live artist, director, writer, performer, Moira Finucane who has a reputation for revolutionizing burlesque and cabaret.
When: 10-13 & 15-20 January, $36-$66, Riverside Theatre

SINCE ALI DIED is a one man play by award winning performer and writer, Omar Musa.  A riveting suite of politically charged and deeply personal storytelling, it’s a mashup of poems, live music and narration through his Muslim-Austrlalian lens.
When: 22-25 January, $35, Raffertys Theatre, Riverside

ROCK BANG merges the world of the big top and punk.  Australian circus troupe, Circus Oz, have teamed up with German rock duo siblings, Daniel Tobias (Otto) and Clare Bartholomew (Astrid)  to create an unparalleled rock’n’roll extravaganza set to breathtaking agility, death-defying stunts and acrobatics.  All couched in a rough edge comedy of irreverence making for one heart thumping show.
When: 10-13 January, $36 or $108 (Family of 4) – Lennox Theatre, Riverside

SPLASH TEST DUMMIES – This slapstick comedy circus involves unicycles, human balancing acts and water skiing in the theatre.  The odd combination of a former national level competitive swimmer (Simon Wright), qualified social worker (Jamie Bretman) and gymnast (Jack Coleman) promises a performance of great eccentricity bursting with laughter.
When: 11-13 January, $26 or $72 (Family of 4) – Lennox Theatre, Riverside

BRETT & WENDY… A LOVE STORY BOUND BY ART  is a stunning visual theatre performance diving into the extraordinary and turbulent partnership of Brett and Wendy Whiteley.  The tale combines live music, dance, video and text.  This world premiere designed and directed by Kim Carpenter, choreographed by Lucas Jervies conjures the joys, passions and struggles of the artistic couple who made an inedible impression on a burgeoning Australia contemporary art scene.
When: 18-27 Jan, $60 – Lennox Theatre, Riverside

Parramatta Information cultural exchange – BAYALA: 3 Day Language Courses
A great way to immerse yourself in Indigenous heritage, the language structure and words you will be learning over the course period will be themed to astronomy, an extension to the city art installations commemorating man landing on the moon fifty years ago.
When: 9-24 Jan, $45

The Western Sydney setting is akin to some of the social issues and tones of performances unique only to this area.  It will evoke a different kind of experience that encapsulates the multi-dimensional layers of the Sydney Festival expression.


Photo Credits:
Blak Box – Barton Taylor, Shanghai Mimi – Yang Xiaohuo, Rock Bang – Andrew Wuttke, Splash Test Dummies – Matthew Turner, Shannon Vitali, Brett & Wenty, Whiteley Studio, Since Ali Died, Robert Catto, Ferenc Szelepcsenyi 

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