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Sydney Festival Is Bringing Its Huge 2022 Program to the City's Stages, Screens, Parks and Pools

Across 25 days in January, the festival will host 133 events — including at its 1000-seat pop-up space in Cathedral Square.
By Sarah Ward
November 17, 2021
By Sarah Ward
November 17, 2021

A death-defying aerial work that's designed to bring attention to climate change, an inflatable dreamscape filled with glowing six-metre-high sculptures, an audio adventure that you can only listen to in a pool, and a physical theatre show that unleashes skaters and BMX riders on a half-pipe: Sydneysiders, that's all headed your way. So is a musical set to Bob Dylan's songs and a theatre show that doubles as a rave. The reason? The massive 2022 Sydney Festival lineup, which has just been announced in all its glory.

When Thursday, January 6 rolls around, all of these highlights and more will form part of the massive 2022 Sydney Festival lineup, which is bringing 133 events to spaces all around the city for 25 days until Sunday, January 30. That includes performances, shows, gigs, installations and more across Sydney's stages, screens, parks, ferry rides, the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool and at a new 1000-seat pop-up site in Cathedral Square — because a major citywide arts festival should sprawl absolutely everywhere it can around town.

From the aforementioned highlights, Airship Orchestra shines brightest — literally. Already a hit in both Adelaide and Brisbane, the installation from ENESS is all about towering, luminous, bulbous shapes that come complete with a choir score.

If you're after jaw-dropping displays that make a statement, however, you'll find that at THAW by Legs On the Wall. It'll lift a 2.7-tonne sculpted block of ice a whopping 20 metres above Sydney Harbour — at the foot of Sydney Opera House, no less — and task one daring performer with standing atop it for ten hours a day, all as the ice melts.

Shane Rozario

Also among the standouts is Floors of Heaven: Submersive Study, a soundscape — or 'sonic tapestry', as Sydney Festival calls it — that's designed by UK producer Leon Vynehall. It'll echo across the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool and yes, you'll listen to it while you're splashing around.

Musical Girl From the North Country was initially announced back in October, but is still one of Sydney Festival's major shows. And if you only see one BMX-fuelled performance, make it DEMO in Parramatta's Century Square. If you only take one trip into the history of Sydney's queer nightlife, too, make it the dance party-meets-theatre show that is Qween Lear at Hordern Pavilion.

Other Sydney Festival must-sees include the entire lineup at Cathedral Square, at the 1000-seat pop-up dubbed Speakers Corner. That's where you'll be able to enjoy gigs by Amyl and The Sniffers, Gordi, King Stingray, Jaguar Jonze, Tropical Fuck Storm, Washington and more — plus a Radiohead for Solo Piano performance by Josh Cohen. It'll also host lively discussions each Sunday, to truly live up to its name.

Fans of The Cat Empire will want to head to Parramatta Park for the band's final Sydney performance with its original line-up — playing for a 12,000-capacity crowd.

Also epic: a contemporary corroboree by Bangarra Dance Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company, which'll feature 17 dancers, four musicians and five actors.

Victor Frankowski

Elsewhere, Jake Nash will unveil his large-scale artwork Future Dreaming on Barangaroo's Star Gazers Lawn, Acoustic Life of Boatsheds will take you on a ferry ride to listen to performances inspired by the boatsheds and waterways, and 宿 (stay) will combine a concert, ceremony and storytelling — in a tale of two skeletons and three women.

There's also Nat Randall and Anna Brecko's Set Piece, a theatre-film experiment that unpacks queer relationships; Darlinghurst Theatre Company's new production of iconic musical A Chorus Line; and a race-conscious Australian reimagining of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by First Nations director and actor Margaret Harvey — plus Chunky Move's new dance production Yung Lung, and Prehistoric Picnic, a puppetry dinosaur zoo at the Royal Botanic Garden that's obviously for audiences of all ages.

Sydney Festival's 2022 program marks the first under new artistic director Olivia Ansell, and also spans the return of several long-running favourites, such as Parramatta Park's Sydney Symphony Under the Stars and Barangaroo's First Nations-focused The Vigil: Songs for Tomorrow.

Sydney Festival 2022 runs from Thursday, January 6–Sunday, January 30 at venues across the city. For further details and to buy tickets, visit the Sydney Festival website. Tickets go on sale at 9am on Wednesday, November 17.

Top image: Ben Weinstein.

Published on November 17, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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