For the past five years, Australian Plays has proudly showcased the scripts of new Australian works featuring (and often premiering) in the Sydney Festival. These texts live online fleetingly, available only for the duration of the festival - expanding an audience’s interaction and experience of how modern performance texts are constructed.
During this extraordinary time worldwide, we have turned to the artists and especially playwrights, to make sense of the immense challenges we face as a species – be that COVID-19 or the ever-looming and existential threat of Climate Change. We’ve also turned to First Nations artists across the globe – to be guided more by deep culture and Indigenous wisdom. Sydney Festival has been vital to this centering and celebrating.
Outgoing Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch has been a powerhouse at the festival, broadening its remit and commissioning, developing and producing extraordinary and vitally, local work. The Sydney Festival is still, even after 2020’s immense uncertainties, the largest commissioner (and equally importantly, producer) of new Australian works in the whole country. In fact, with international borders shut, 2021’s Festival is almost entirely local work, by local artists. I sat down with him a few weeks ago (over the now familiar Zoom of course!) to talk through some of the lines that connect works in the festival, surviving pandemics and programming through uncertainty.
We hope you enjoy the 2021 Sydney Festival Collection.
- John Kachoyan
Previous Literary Manager, Australian Plays (2018 - 2020)
Every January, Sydney Festival enlivens and transforms Sydney with a bold cultural celebration based on big ideas and cutting-edge art and performance.
In 2021, we're building on a proud 44-year history of commissioning and presenting inspiring and ground-breaking new Australian art, with a program that celebrates the best work from our finest artists and companies. Recovering, reconnecting, and reinvigorating.
The diverse program includes everything from jaw-dropping cabaret to acclaimed theatre, modern Indigenous work, exhilarating music, and family-friendly fun that we can't wait to share with you.
Sydney Festival was originally conceived by the Sydney Committee, the NSW State Government and the City of Sydney with a view to attracting people into the city centre during the holiday month of January.
The first Festival took place in 1977 and it has since grown to become one of Australia's largest annual cultural celebrations with an international reputation for modern, popular and intelligent programming. In many ways it is probably still best understood as a celebration of Sydney, and its style and energy reflect the confidence, diversity and vigour of one of the world's most beautiful cities.
The Festival has a history of presenting Australian premieres, and many of Australia's most memorable productions such as Cloudstreet and Smoke & Mirrors have resulted from Sydney Festival's commitment to nurture local artists.
It has brought many of the world's great artists to Sydney including: Ariane Mnouchkine and Thèâtre du Soleil (Flood Drummers); Robert Wilson (The Black Rider); Robert Lepage (Far Side of the Moon, The Andersen Project, Lipsynch); Schaubühne Berlin (Hamlet, Beware of Pity); Netherlands Dance Theatre; James Thiérrée; Philip Glass; Ian McKellen (Dance of Death); Peter Sellars; Batsheva Dance Company; National Theatre of Scotland (Beautiful Burnout, Black Watch, Aalst); Al Green; AR Rahman; Kneehigh Theatre (Tristan & Yseult, The Red Shoes); Wayne McGregor's Random Dance (Entity) and Studio Wayne McGregor (Tree of Codes); Ludger Engels and Vivienne Westwood (Semele Walk); and Fabulous Beast (Rian).