On Thursday 28 October, Darlinghurst Theatre Company will fling open its doors and invite audiences back to its home at the Eternity Playhouse. Building on what has become a company tradition, Artistic Director Amylia Harris has assembled another jam-packed lineup for what she is calling a Fling Festival.
“We’re all desperate to break up with lockdown and enjoy some non-committal spring fun,” says Amylia Harris. “Our community needs to find joy, but on its own terms. Everyone’s been told what to do for so long and now it’s time to curate our own post-lockdown experience. You be you!”
Harris is reactivating the theatre space and transforming the Eternity Playhouse into a scalable cultural hub that combines live entertainment with indoor and outdoor dining in a truly immersive experience.
“Right now, our kitchen is putting the finishing touches to our new Darlo Bites menu,” she says. “We’ll be serving mouth-watering cheese and charcuterie boards for both indoor and alfresco dining under the umbrellas along our theatre’s beautiful street frontage.” A delicious range of bespoke cocktails has also been prepared, including the aptly named Spring Fling.
Thirsty Thursdays is back by popular demand, bringing the New York piano bar vibe to the heart of Darlo. Curated by Andrew Bukenya, weekly guests will be handpicked from the crème de la crème of musical theatre and cabaret, adding razzle dazzle to these open mic nights. Musical theatre icon Margi de Ferranti opens the season on 28 October with Bev Kennedy on piano.
Andrew Bukenya will also launch Looking Up: Classical from a New Perspective – an up-close and intimate encounter with classical music in a unique and non-traditional setting. If Fling is about breaking up with lockdown, then Looking Up is Darlo’s alternative to the strictures of the conservative music scene.
Tea and cakes will be served as music lovers kick back on bean bags and enjoy a soundscape conjured up by some of Sydney’s best classical musicians. Looking Up premieres on 17 November with a second session on Wednesday 1 December.
On Saturday 30 October, Queer Table Reads will see Sydney’s favourite LGBTQIA+ performers bring their all-time favourite cult cinema classics to the stage with a queer twist. This Halloween they’re presenting the Reese Witherspoon classic – Legally Blonde. This event will be produced and hosted by Sydney comedian Jenna Suffern, who promises, “it will give the queer community and its allies a reason to just have a laugh in this weird, chaotic world we live in.”
Grounded Sydneysiders may not have had much to laugh about recently, but they can still look forward to an alternative kind of ‘inflight’ entertainment when Sky Queenz transform the theatre’s cabaret space into a first-class aircraft cabin on 20 and 27 November. Complete with upgrades (and downgrades), this drag extravaganza is presented by Leave It to Diva – the team behind the hugely popular Priscilla Spectacular and Come Fly with Me.
The Fling Festival program also includes two spoken word poetry events titled Revolution Renegade, with MADAM3EMPRESS and Bangarra artist and storyteller Daniel Mateo scheduled to feature during the festival.
“We speak the unspeakable,” says founding performance artist and activist, Mel Ree. “We connect to each other so profoundly, suddenly life seems possible again. Revolution is the vibe / Renegade is the go.” A hit at Giant Dwarf, Revolution Renegade will be held on 6 November and returns to close the festival on 11 December.
Artistic Director Amylia Harris has become a deft hand at bringing together the country’s best creative talents and, despite the extended periods of lockdown, this will be her sixth festival in just three years.
“Our annual Comedy Kiki during Mardi Gras proved that we had succeeded in building trust with our artists and audience,” she says. “That trust now allows us to deliver an experience that can both challenge and delight.”
Her ground-breaking programming has enabled Darlinghurst Theatre Company to successfully weather the impact of COVID-19 and be one of the first theatres anywhere in the world to reopen after the first lockdown.
Beginning with Red Carpet Cabaret in June last year, Harris went on to program the Bloom Festival, which was extended by popular demand, as well as a body positive burlesque festival titled Big Thick Energy.
“A year has passed since we opened Bloom,” Harris says, “and it was great while it lasted. However, as soon as the second lockdown began, I knew we’d need to replenish all that positive energy when we finally re-emerged.”
“By the time this festival is over, we’ll be ready for the new year ahead – no more rebounds; no more false starts. Lockdown really was like a bad relationship and it left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.”
“Yes, we’re opening back up, but we’re also taking time to cleanse the palate. That’s what having a Fling is all about!” says Harris.
Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s Fling Festival runs 28 October until 11 December 2021. For more information and to book tickets, visit: www.darlinghursttheatre.com for details.
Image: Andrew Bukenya hosts Thirsty Thursdays and Looking Up (supplied)