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Sydney's Best New Events of 2018

The six most innovative and inclusive events to have landed in Sydney this year.
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018


The six most innovative and inclusive events to have landed in Sydney this year.

While it felt like this year's cultural calendar was dominated by bottomless brunches and themed high teas (and there were a lot of them) a lot of other game-changing events were also taking place. From a full-scale replica of London's historic Globe Theatre — complete with plays — to an immersive audiovisual installation telling First Peoples' stories and a living exhibition of over 25,000 carnivorous plants, Sydney has seen a influx of events celebrating the city's cultural ecosystem and bringing people together.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Sydney to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new events, taking place in 2018, were nominated for Best New Event in Concrete Playground's Best of 2018 Awards.

  • 6
    Plants with Bite

    The Royal Botanic Garden has launched a new blood-thirsty exhibition just in time for Halloween. Plants with Bite, which has made its home in the garden’s Calyx building, features 25,000 creepy carnivorous plants. The living exhibition is made up of Venus flytraps — luckily these ones don’t thrive on human blood — lobster pots, flypapers, bladders and more fascinating, bug-munching plants. And, if you’re lucky, you might even see them in action. If you’re not, you can do so in augmented reality. The RBG has launched an app in conjunction with the killer exhibition, which lets you ‘collect’ the plants — a bit like Pokemon GO — and watch them eat flies. Or, you can get eaten by a plant, à la Little Shop of Horrors, thanks to its new Snapchat filter. While the exhibition looks impressive now, it’ll continue to grow and overflow onto the floor as the hungry plants search for food. So, we suggest checking in again in a couple of months to see how it progresses — it is free, after all.

    Words: Samantha Teague.

    Vote for Plants with Bite

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  • 5

    Imagine a fully immersive theatre experience with a choose-your-own-adventure twist and lots of macabre nods to Edgar Allan Poe, and you’ll have some idea of what to expect at the A Midnight Visit, which has taken over an abandoned Sydney warehouse this spring. Unlike any theatre offering the city has seen before, this captivating experience is part performance, part playground and part film set. And it’s being brought to life across 30 rooms of an eerie, two-storey, 3500-square-metre Newtown warehouse before it’s demolished to make way for apartments. Audiences will find themselves transported into a dream world that takes its cues from those notoriously macabre works of Edgar Allan Poe, as imagined by a team of local actors and a crew of innovative sound, film-set and costume designers. Expect an air of David Lynch and some Stanley Kubrick vibes, with a spot of steam-punk thrown in for good measure. If you’re thinking you might need some sort of tipple to calm your nerves before all of that, or after, you’ll find yourself in good hands at The Ravens Rest pop-up bar, curated by Studio Neon.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Anna Kucera.

    Vote for A Midnight Visit

  • 4

    Dust off your petticoat and get your doublets out of the attic, because London’s historic Globe Theatre is popping up in Sydney for six weeks this year — well, sort of. Pop-Up Globe is the world’s first full-scale replica of the historic theatre, which was built by Shakespeare’s playing company and housed his greatest works. It originated in Auckland in 2015 and popped up in Melbourne last year, and a version set up shop in Moore Park this September. History buffs and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike will have the opportunity to soak in plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth and A Comedy of Errors. Inside the round  three-storey venue, no member of the 900-strong audience will ever be more than 15 metres from the stage, and all performances will be conducted without the use of mics, just as it was in 1614. Organisers promise that Pop-Up Globe won’t host ‘dusty’ versions of Shakespeare — rather, performances will be more like a party. “It is bawdy, hilarious, brutal and blood-soaked,” says founder and artistic director Dr Miles Gregory.

    Words: Lauren Vadnjal and Sophie Goulopoulos. Images: Jay Wennington. 

    Vote for Pop-Up Globe

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  • 3
    Sydney City Limits

    We’re in the thick of summer festivals, and organisers of Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival have launched a brand newie: Sydney City Limits. A sister festival for Texan mega-fest Austin City Limits, Sydney’s version was a one-day all-ages event full of music, food, art and market stalls aplenty. Gracing four stages in Sydney’s Centennial Park was a serious lineup of Australian and international artists. Over 30 huge names — including international acts Justice, Beck, Phoenix and Grace Jones, and local artists Gang of Youths, Tash Sultana, Vance Joy, Dune Rats and Allday — converged on the inner-city park for the festival. Not a bad debut lineup. Punters were also nourished by a handful of Sydney’s top chefs, restaurants and food trucks, all curated by the team behind Mary’s and The Unicorn. And just like the festival’s American counterpart, the creative arts got a strong representation here, too. An openair art space showcased snapshots of the city through painting, street art, photography, video and performance art by Sydney artists.

    Words: Jonathan Ford.

    Vote for Sydney City Limits

  • 2

    It’s been more than two decades since Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet changed the game when it came to screen adaptations of Shakespeare — and delivered a stunning soundtrack along with it. There are many things that make the 1996 movie great, from its stellar casting to the filmmaker’s inimitable style. But tracks by everyone from The Cardigans to Radiohead to Everclear to Garbage rank right up there with its biggest strengths. It’s no wonder, then, that Vivid Sydney is threw quite the soiree to celebrate one of the best-ever collections of movie tunes. At Young Hearts Run Free, the Enmore became a rock masquerade, with patrons dressing up, dancing the night away, and listening to live performances of the entire soundtrack. And as for the lineup, it was suitably epic — with Quindon Tarver, the original choir boy from the film, belting out his ‘When Doves Cry’ cover. He was joined by Ella Hooper, Jonathan Boulet, Abby Dobson, Hayley Mary, iOTA, Jordan Raskopolous, Billie Rose, Cash Savage, Laura Imbruglia, Andy Golledge, Jake Stone and Bad Bitch Choir.

    Words: Sarah Ward.

    Vote for Young Hearts Run Free

  • 1
    Blak Box
    When you stepped inside BLAK BOX, an architect-designed sound pavilion at Barangaroo, you were carried into a world of First Peoples’ stories. Spoken word, music and field recordings combined to create a stream of consciousness that expresses experiences of Barangaroo – from the past, the present and the future. The installation is the creation of Urban Theatre Projects, who commissioned architect Kevin O’Brien to design the immersive pavilion. Lighting was kept to a minimum, encouraging “deep listening”, a concept that invites you to pay attention, not only to the stories, but also to the silences and spaces between them. Radio National presenter Daniel Browning curated the audio. His selections include 15 commissioned sound pieces, oral histories of Barangaroo before 1788, informal interviews and spoken word performances. BLAK BOX made its world premiere at Barangaroo Reserve in June, it’s launch coinciding with Reconciliation Week, before touring Australia. It’s returning in early 2019 for Sydney Festival.
    Words: Jasmine Crittenden.

Top image: Pop-Up Globe by Jay Wennington.

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