Get Up On Your High Horse at Sydney Festival

Art and culture is no longer the preserve of the upper class.

Gone are the days when the untouchable echelons of society would drink themselves giddy on cognac in an art gallery and jostle like children in the first two rows of a seal show to get hit with the spray flying from the foaming Cholera-riddled mouth of J.M.W Turner.

Now high art and culture is not so much prostituted as it was exclusively to those who could afford it, but available to anyone with a spare cigarette and a sandwich.

Frankly, we’re thankful for that.

We’ve just gone gluten-free and we have a fridge full of sandwiches and a pack of Marlboros from when smoking was considered rebellious in a socially acceptable way, and we’re looking to trade for some semblance of intellectual superiority.

Thank goodness Sydney Festival is almost here.

Yes, every January, Sydney Festival starts the new year with a bang, transforming the city with a bold cultural celebration based on critical ideas and cutting-edge art and performance. Sydney Festival’s audacious contemporary programming positions it at the forefront of arts practice in Australia and up there as one of the most wonderful festivals in the world.

A radical new staging of John Cassavetes’ cult movie Opening Night, starring Isabelle Adjani, two concerts by award-winning UK choir Tenebrae, a concert of modern re-arrangements of rare First Nations songs by Canadian composer and musician Jeremy Dutcher, Joan Didion’s The White Album stage adaptation, and a reboot of Reg Livermore’s famous 1970s cabaret show Betty Blokk-Buster, performed by Josh Quong Tart, are among the many shows programmed by Sydney Festival Artistic Director Wesley Enoch for 2020, along with the previously announced Aboriginal musical Bran Nue Dae.

Money no longer makes for a superior person, but the ability to spew obscure references to pieces of performance art in conversation and feign surprise when no one else understands the context to which you’re referring, well, in 2020, is as valuable as a whole bathtub full of Turner’s bodily fluids.


Update: The radical new staging of John Cassavetes’ cult movie Opening Night, starring Isabelle Adjani, has been cancelled due to fears concerning air quality. It seems even the notion of violent, murderous delusion fuelled by toxins cannot compete with the environmental hell that we have created for ourselves. Seems like a wasted theatrical opportunity.

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