‘We’re ready for anything’: Sydney festival 2022 unveils full program

Festivalgoers can choose indoor, outdoor or stay-at-home events, as mass concerts, bold installations and world-premiere theatre set to take over city in January

A 2.7 tonne melting iceberg will be suspended 20 metres above Sydney harbour for 10 hours a day as part of the 2022 Sydney festival.

The free event, titled Thaw, is a new work by physical theatre company Legs On the Wall, and is a dramatic theatrical statement on the need for action on global heating. The feat, running across three days, will be accompanied by the music of Alaskan composer and environmental activist Matthew Burtner.

Olivia Ansell’s first Sydney festival as director kicks off on 6 January, with a program that is packed with live music, world premieres and the resurrection of two theatrical classics – A Chorus Line and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Legs On the Wall will premiere their new work, Thaw, at the Sydney festival.
Legs On the Wall will premiere their new work, Thaw – a statement on the climate crisis. Photograph: Shane Rozario/Sydney festival

On the musical front, Australian party band the Cat Empire will play to a 12,000-strong crowd in Parramatta Park, while artists including Amyl and the Sniffers, Gordi, Jaguar Jonze and William Barton will perform at venues around greater Sydney.

Ansell said the 2022 festival would expand its traditional CBD and Parramatta bases to include events in Manly, Mosman, Penrith, Campbelltown, Casula, Blacktown, Bankstown and Cronulla.

“We’ve made the festival indoor, outdoor and online so we feel like we’re absolutely ready for anything and we can cater to any visitor’s appetite and level of confidence,” she said.

“If you’re not confident to go out we can bring the festival to you at home. If you are confident to go out we’ve got enough outdoor works to satisfy you, and if you’re ready for the full throttle and thirsting for culture and just want to get back inside that theatre, we’ve got a compelling theatre program too.”

The Darlinghurst Theatre Company will stage the Broadway classic A Chorus Line
The Darlinghurst Theatre Company is staging Broadway classic A Chorus Line. Photograph: Daniel Shipp/Sydney festival

More highlights of the 2022 Sydney festival:

Wudjang: Not the Past
This new work – a collaboration between Bangarra Dance Theatre and the Sydney Theatre Company – will feature 17 dancers, four musicians and five actors.

Airship Orchestra
A giant audiovisual inflatable installation will light up Darling Harbour.

Qween Lear
A queer version of the Shakespearean tragedy King Lear will be staged at the Hordern Pavilion, with an ageing drag matriarch played by Minnie Cooper (AKA Aaron Farley) abdicating their throne with a musical nod to the venue’s famed history as one of Sydney’s favourite rave destinations.

Mini Cooper star in Qween Lear
Minnie Cooper stars in Qween Lear. Photograph: John McRae/Sydney festival

Floors of Heaven: Submersive Study
Held at the Andrew (Boy) Charlton pool, the audience will submerse itself in the sonic aquatic audio tapestries of British producer Leon Vynehall.

Sydney Symphony Under the Stars
The tradition of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture from picnic blankets will return in 2022 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra playing a free concert in Parramatta Park to a 15,000-capacity crowd.

The Acoustic Life of Boatsheds
Social impact arts organisation Big hART will stage a series of original performance around the harbour, with the audience transported to various venues via Sydney ferry.

Bangarra Dance Theatre and the Sydney Theatre Company co-production Wudjang: Not the Past
Wudjang: Not the Past is a collaboration between Bangarra Dance Theatre and the Sydney Theatre Company. Photograph: Daniel Boud

Girl From the North Country
Lisa McCune will star in this multi-award-winning Broadway musical featuring the songs of Bob Dylan. The show is being performed at the newly restored Theatre Royal on King Street in the CBD.

Small Metal Objects
Back to Back Theatre’s immersive production, staged at Circular Quay and delivered through audience headphones, makes a return after premiering in Sydney 14 years ago.

Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran
Resident festival artist Javaad Alipoor will stage his 2019 Edinburgh fringe festival award-winning play, which combines digital theatre and a live Instagram feed.

The Museum of Modern Love
The world premiere of the stage adaptation of Heather Rose’s Stella prize-winning novel will play at the Seymour Centre.

The Sydney Dance Company will perform excerpts from works by choreographer Ohad Naharin from Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company.

Jurrungu Ngan-ga
At Carriageworks, Indigenous intercultural dance company Marrugeku will stage an examination of incarceration with input from Yawuru leader Patrick Dodson and the Kurdish-Iranian writer and former Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani.

Gravity and Other Myths production The Pulse
Adelaide circus company Gravity and Other Myths. Photograph: Darcy Grant/Sydney festival

The Pulse
Gravity and Other Myths’s physical theatre spectacular The Pulse, which was a hit of this year’s Adelaide festival, will come to Sydney, featuring a troupe of 24 acrobats alongside 26 voices from the Sydney Philharmonia Choir.

Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner
British playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones’s hit, a work rich in acronyms, memes and tweets, will play across two venues – at the Darlinghurst Theatre and Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre.

Yung Lung
Melbourne contemporary dance company Chunky Move will perform “a hybrid party/performance for the end of days” to a soundtrack composed by techno experimentalist Chiara Kickdrum.

Italian Baroque with Circa
Circa Contemporary Circus together with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra will take audiences “on a rollicking ride through Italy’s multi-layered past”.

Free jazz and classical concerts
The Cutaway at The Rocks will host a series of bring-your-own-cushion live jazz and classical concerts.

Sonic Collisions
The Museum of Contemporary Art will stay open at night for a live music concert of South West Asian and North African rhythms.


Kelly Burke

The GuardianTramp

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