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Sydney Festival – local highlights

It’s going to be an exciting Sydney Festival and plenty of it can be seen locally. Carriageworks and the Seymour Centre will once again be busy venues and for the first time the Festival will be taking itself to the streets and parks of Erskineville. 

One of the highlights at Carriageworks is the “About an Hour” program. Over a long weekend at Carriageworks, “About an Hour” features 45 performances of nine diverse works (both free and ticketed) spanning theatre, storytelling, movement and music. The Festival’s Fiona Winning describes this cluster of 60-70-minute performances from local and international artists as one of the big highlights. “It’s a festival within a festival, a wonderful cross-section of smaller, very exciting works.”

Under new Festival Director Lieven Bertels there is a strong music element that runs through the 2013 program. Leading Australian guitarist Stefan Gregory re-imagines Beethoven’s 7th Symphony as a solo live score to accompany performance group Legs On The Wall’s latest creation.

“Le Sacre – The Rite of Spring” is a fusion of theatre, music and dance as a live performance by two pianists of Stravinsky’s classic piece, and is accompanied by a dance performance created by German writer turned choreographer Raimund Hoghe.

Another feature at Carriageworks will be local company Offspring, who in tandem with Melbourne-based sound artists Oren Ambarchi and Martin Ng, will showcase the world premiere of “Ligeti Morphed”. Using the music of György Ligeti as inspiration, the artists fuse the acoustic world with the electronic in a series of strikingly original works.

In landlocked Carriageworks small audience groups will experience being “cast adrift” in lifeboats in UK performance group Curious’s “The Moment I Saw You I Knew I Could Love You”. Set in the belly of a whale, the audience will be boarded into lifeboats to be fully immersed in stories, myths and siren songs about gut feelings, memories, love and survival.

Tiny parks dotted through the nearby suburb of Erskineville will become unlikely venues for the premiere of “Micro Parks”. Starting out from Carriageworks, this will be an unusual neighbourhood stroll whereby people can be treated to a series of performances that come to life in Erko’s little parks.

Throughout the Festival, the open area of Carriageworks will feature the significant work of China’s pre-eminent artist Song Dong. Entitled “Waste Not”, Winning describes this as “a really big and beautiful work, all of the contents of Dong’s Chinese family’s house are displayed as an artwork, an active remembrance for his deceased father’s life journey”.

Nearby Seymour Centre will also be a busy venue. “We are really excited to have two local groups and three international groups performing there,” says Winning. A highlight will be the world premiere of Kuwait’s Sabab Theatre’s “In the Eruptive Mode”. Another highlight will be “Masi”, an unlikely and touching love story between a Fijian Island high chief and the daughter of Cambridge-educated schoolmasters.

And inspired by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’s Murder Ballads the local company Erth will be performing the Australian premiere of “Murder”, an ode to society’s obsession with … murder.

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