Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Let the Festival Begin (In a Coupla Months)

God I love this building . . .

Today I was researching our Summer Corporate Newsletter and I've realised that January is a pretty good month for the yarts, in Sydney. Despite the pretty wonderful weather ( with the exception of the welcome odd summer drenching as an evening storm wafts through), there's loads to do. Sydney Festival an event that tempts us arty farty types through the month with loads of cool events from performance to exhibitions, the avant garde and the commercial. Where else can you see Brian Wilson feebly pretending to sing "Good Vibrations" and Cyprus Hill perform at "Good Vibrations" all in the same month. and . If you're into Theatre, Ballet, Opera . . the ole oprey is lit up in her best but it's expensive.

Me, I like the freebies and over past years we've seen some fantastic stuff from Portuguese Dance troupes spraying the crowd with fireworks during a bawdy play on the opera house steps . . Shakespeare in the park . . . free concerts on the Opera House Forecourt, Lady Chatterly's Lover at Vaucluse House (complete with nude sex scenes, that was a bit confronting I don't mind telling you) and outdoor cinema and fireworks at Mrs Macquarie's Chair. There you watch films on a screen which is hydraulically lifted from a pontoon floating on the water. The harbour is just beautiful, with the lights, Opera House and the old coathanger in the background. You don't mind paying $30 entry and $10 for a glass of Verve or risking being bombed by fruit bats as they migrate towards the Moreton Bay fig trees at dusk, in the Botanical gardens. Believe me, you don't want to receive a little figgy parcel from a flying rodent, the size of a small cat!

Innocent enough from the air

A little bigger up close!

The city is bathed with coloured lights, significant buildings highlighted and the foreshore comes alive with everything from buskers to art installations.

It all starts with the New Year's eve Fireworks. Now that the kids are older we don’t spend as much time there. We used to pile in the car after school and head straight for the city. We have however, spent many a New Year's Eve arriving at Mrs Macquarie's chair at 2.00pm, picnicking with friends and taking turns to stretch our legs around the Botanical Gardens whilst someone remains to secure our vantage point. There are fireworks at 9.00pm which are enough to satiate little children but the real charmers go off at Midnight and the harbour is awash with boats from the humble 'tinny' to the classy catamarans all bobbing up and down like so much flotsam and jetsum. The crowds are huge but it all seems to go without too much malice. Except once I lost a pair of $200 Raybans in the dark. There is now a well shaded garbo wondering Sydney with my very spesh sunglasses on. I learned my lesson and now by them from the local servo for $12.

Nothing sets off fireworks like the Harbour Bridge. That little heart is a firework! Seriously.

Among the free events this year are some which captured my imagination. Now I'm not being paid by festival organisers, honestly. It's just that with daylight saving and balmy nights, you'd have to be mad not to take advantage of this very special time and place:

Movies in the Overflow - free movies are screened on Friday and Saturday nights throughout January at a natural amphitheatre in the 2000 Olympic site. Can't do better than a freebie.

Darling Harbour is a restaurant and tourist district. It's normally very well 'Westy' and a place to be avoided but for a couple of weekends in January, there is a French performance installation "Iiotopie". Apparently, they use light, sound and pyrotechnics to tell the story of an everyday man whose humdrum life is turned upside down one morning when his head inexplicably bursts into flames. Everyday objects are transformed into mythical creatures, - all ingeniously floating on the surface of the water.

Airvag are installations that fill parks and streets with colourful interactive sculptures that delight adults and children alike. As night falls, these beautiful objects begin to glow and sway transforming familiar spaces. 1500 square metres of structures to be climbed and jumped on, to chase around or just lie on and look up into the sky.

Then if we can be bothered to go early, there is Jazz, Opera and Symphony in the Domain on three successive weekends. The Domain is a large green inner city space. When I first came to Australia, you could wander through this park on a Sunday morning and those with an opinion would be mounted on their soap boxes chanting religious warnings or pointing political fingers. I'm not sure if they still do it. I suspect it's one of those nice European traditions that has finally died out. This year there's El Barrio or Spanish Harlem Jazz, Mendellssohn and Stravinsky's Firebird with some more modern additions by John Adams, Benjamin Britten and Antonin Dvorak. Then finally, the opera (um, I'll ditch that one. Not a fan . . I put it in the same box as Poetry . . . I know it' clever, I know it's art but I just don't like it. My apologies to any poets out there . . it's not you . . it's me . . . only two exceptions John Donne's Mending Walls and any opera that has a zebra in it!)

The Domain stage

Finally there's Ghostgarden which promises to take us on a surreal journey through the Royal Botanic Gardens. Punters are given GPS technology and Pocket PC's to unravel a trail of the 1800s, when Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens were a zoo and parklands. We are to be immersed in the tale of Jack and Lucy and their impossible love. The narrative unravels as we wander the Royal Botanic Gardens' paths and gardens. Sounds intriguing doesn't it.

Interestingly, whilst writing this post about high art and entertainment . . . I have been brought back to the real world of commercial theatre - a Ticketmaster email announcing the dubious launch of "Singalong Sound of Music" . . If it's what I think it is . . . you'll find me in the Ghostgarden, not following the bouncing ball!

Them heels are a aloive wiv duh sound of myoooozeeeek!
an' sawngs I 'av 'erd for a fousand yeeeeeeers!


Brianf said...

Too many people. Too much concrete, steel, glass and traffic. Too many lights and too much noise. Isn't there a place called the Blue Mountains around there somewhere?

K8 the Gr8 said...

Gorgeous photos!!! Puppychild was well impressed as she looked over my shoulder.

I will go to Oz if it kills me. From now on, I'm saving a euro a week until I can afford the fare. See you in a while.

Terence McDanger said...

I bet it's not a patch on the lovely cows contest at the Agricultural Fair in Virginia. Oh no sir.

Baino said...

Brianf: Yep but thats an experience of a different kind. I love the bustle of the city as long as I can come home to the peace and quiet. I'm a Kulchur vulchure

K8: We'd love to show you around. It's a great place once you get used to tripping over spiders and lizards. *kidding*

Terrence: You'd better come at Easter to the Royal Agricultural Show. You can step in cow pats all day and eat fairy floss at the same time! A whole week of lovely cows and pigs and goats and sheep and chooks and horses and alpacas and . . .

K8 the Gr8 said...

Oh Baino, your flippant spider threats are no good no more. I tells ya, I'm through with that phobia ever since the cleavage incident.

I even pick them up now and talk to them softly.

I'm thinking of buying a tarantula and naming him Boris, I'm that serious.

Anonymous said...

HAHA don't you have enough adventuring to think about with going away? This is a post I'm keeping! It's going to be an EXCELLENT New Year - thanks :) Can't avoid flying for too much longer Baino ummmm TOMORROW... have a GREAT time away which I'm sure you will!