Brisbane Festival invites the city to make every work their own

Chekhov’s First Play photo by José Miguel JimenezWe live in an age where public participation is everywhere – the consumer has become the creator, and taking part in an experience is expected. Whether it’s having our say on social media, messaging a song request to play on the radio or commenting on a news article, we all want to be content-makers.

This year, Brisbane Festival is challenging the relationship between performer and audience, weaving public participation into 11 shows throughout the program. These works promise to encapsulate their audience by pushing traditional boundaries and allowing each person to experience the work in a unique and personal way.

The Game is a new work by Irish group THEATREclub, exploring the act of prostitution and buying sex in a confronting and emotionally powerful way. Running over three nights, each performance will call on five male volunteers who have a vested interest in addressing the topic of misogyny within today’s society.

Audiences are invited to sit back and watch the real-life game unfold, eliciting a rollercoaster of emotions that challenge the way we think about the rules, language and power structure of prostitution.

You Should Be Dancing taps into the culturally rich community dance scene in Brisbane. A special stage in Queen’s park will come alive with a series of social dance parties featuring Brisbane’s dancing legends across genres and generates. All of Brisbane is invited to take part, ranging from Rumba to Bollywood to Line Dancing, there’s a genre to suit everyone.

A single piece of music holds a different emotional connection for every listener, whether it’s joy, desire, sadness, or grief. Brisbane Festival’s breathtaking Symphony For Me, hosted by Jennifer Byrne, is back for a second year, after tickets sold out in 27 minutes in 2015. The session calls for five participants to share a piece of music they associate with a strong memory, which is performed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Audiences are invited to share in this incredibly touching evening, where they to, can create a musical moment of their own. Brisbane Festival’s Artistic Director, David Berthold’s passion for self-creation and personal experience is clear in this selection of works.

“Festivals are great ways to dissolve all kinds of barriers. More and more in all parts of our lives, people create their own ‘content’. So it’s fun and timely for us to have a whole bunch of shows that involve the general public in ways that are not just sitting in the audience,” said Berthold.

“People can help choose music for Symphony for Me and Sunsuper Riverfire, and be part of the onstage action of The Game, You Should be Dancing, Galaxy Stomp and 50/50. I’m particularly excited to see the top-notch 30-piece Brisbane Excelsior Band on stage as part of a big international collaboration in En avant, marche!,” said Berthold.

You Should Be Dancing, The Game and Conversations are just three of 11 shows with a heavy focus on audience participation. En avant, marche!, Chekhov’s First Play, 50/50, Deep Soulful Sweats, The Second Woman, The Money and Gender Gaze have all been hand selected, allowing every participant to interpret and experience the work in their own way.

Brisbane Festival is set to paint the city pink as Brisbane’s top performing arts precincts become a destination for Festival goers during September. Queensland Performing Arts Centre, La Boite Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, The Courier-Mail Piazza and the much loved Festival hub, Arcadia will come to life for three weeks during the Festival.

The five venues will play host to 70 productions and 540 performances set to transform the city with an exciting program full of music, dance, theatre, comedy, and opera showcasing unique and world class works you wouldn’t ordinarily get the opportunity to see.

Get ready to have your opinions challenged, emotions jabbed and eyeballs enthralled as the best of the independent arts scene comes to Theatre Republic. QUT’s Theatre Precinct will once again play host to a spectacular live theatre line-up including the world premiere of the left-of-field performance, Snow White – an electrifying work that’s a collaboration between Opera Queensland and La Boite Theatre Company.

Experience high-energy performances and mind-blowing collective works for three weeks only at The Brisbane Powerhouse during this year’s Brisbane Festival. The Australian premiere of Jonah Bokaer, Daniel Arsham and multi-GRAMMY Award-winner Pharrell Williams’s collaborative work Rules Of The Game is just one of the many shows set to wow audiences.

Be entranced by acrobatic performances, eccentric costumes and bittersweet sounds as the Queensland Performing Arts Centre welcomes world class performances that will surprise and delight. Captivating acts include En, avant Marche!, La Verita and the comedic take on the Shakespeare classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

For the first time, two Spiegeltents will be the beacon of Brisbane Festival’s art hub, Arcadia – indulging merrymakers in a wondrous world of music, cabaret and food trucks alongside oodles of family fun during weekends and school holidays.

Strut & Fret’s high-end burlesque spectacle, Blanc de Blanc will captivate spectators throughout the duration of the Festival while Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid and California Crooners Club, starring Aussie heartthrob Hugh Sheridan will leave audiences wanting more.

The 2016 Brisbane Festival runs from 3 – 24 September. Tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Chekhov’s First Play – photo by José Miguel Jimenez