RISING comes to life for 12 nights of transformative cultural events

RISING Wandering StarsRISING – the state’s newest major event, has opened its inaugural festival. Comprised of 133 events and projects, featuring over 750 Victorian artists, the festival will spectacularly transform the city – in a surge of art, music, performance and ceremony – until 6 June 2021.

With public health and audience safety of paramount concern, much planning has gone into ensuring that RISING is a Covid-safe environment. All events and festival venues will be deploying Covid-19 Safety Plans and implementing all mandatory Department of Health regulations including capacity and social distancing measures, as well as mandatory registration where required.

As a visual signpost of the festival’s commencement, the Birrarung (Yarra River) will light up, as a 200-metre-long glowing eel skeleton comes to life on the water. Made up of hundreds of floating lanterns created by the community, under the supervision of internationally acclaimed public-art makers The Lantern Company, Wandering Stars will be on every night of the festival and is free to attend.

After holding Melbourne’s imagination for decades, the mysterious Flinders Street Station ballroom (and its surrounding hidden rooms) will open to the public to become A Miracle Constantly Repeatedan eco-system of hyper-real silicone sculptures, video, sound and light devised by one of Australia’s preeminent contemporary artists, Patricia Piccinini.

Around the corner, nature takes over the entire Sidney Myer Music Bowl, transforming its iconic amphitheatre into a supernatural forest of ice, art, sound and moonlight at The Wilds.

Enter through a bamboo forest and encounter mirrored illusions, architectural tunnels of light, large-scale sculpture, video art and witness the return of a beloved tradition – ice-skating on the bowl’s stage – under a giant moon.

Featuring an array of food and beverage offers from Melbourne’s most beloved chefs, The Wilds also includes a dramatic pop-up restaurant – The Lighthouse – perched high atop the Bowl’s amphitheatre by chef David Moyle.

Deep in the heart of Chinatown emerges Golden Square RISING’s spiralling, sparkling art car park. Starting on the car park roof, audiences can take in Melbourne’s iconic skyline lit up by building-sized projections.

Cocktails flow from Fancy Free’s pop-up bar, while an astonishing array of artworks include underfoot murals and melting columns of frozen lake water. Elsewhere in Chinatown you can join in a mysterious late night listening club or witness American art icon Jenny Holzer’s I Conjure.

“RISING is a festival that has been built for winter and the events, artworks, dining experiences and performances have been lovingly made over the course of the last year to bring the city to life with a vibrant, coordinated arts experience for the next 12 nights,” said Co-Artistic Director, Gideon Obarzanek.

Obarzanek’s Co-Artistic Director Hannah Fox explained further: “There are many ways to approach this program, from getting out into nature with the family at The Wilds to First Peoples hip hop, trap and grime at Max Watts or exploring art in Chinatown followed by Late Night Yum Cha in the Town Hall.”

“We have attempted to craft a program that matches the adventurous and insatiable appetite of Melbourne audiences,” said Fox.

Across the city, Max Watts and the Comedy Theatre will be filled with a dedicated selection of the very best of Melbourne music right now curated by Woody McDonald, while the Melbourne Town Hall will be transformed into a culinary cathedral, where punters can feast on late night yum cha or warm their souls at RISING’s street-side soup stall – Stock Exchange.

The Arts Precinct plays host to theatre and dance from some of Australia’s most acclaimed companies, including Back to Back Theatre, Dancenorth Australia and ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, while a Spirit Eel snakes its way around the Hamer Hall façade in a huge projection work by Maree Clarke (Mutti Mutti/Yorta Yorta/BoonWurrung) and Mitch Mahoney (BoonWurrung/Barkinji).

But RISING’S not letting the CBD have all the fun, with events and performances popping up across the state. At Dromana Drive-In, celebrated cinematographer Sandi Sissel, alongside Willoh?Weiland?and James Brennan will present Deep Throat Drive-In – an intimate and avenging night of cinema.

In North Melbourne, theatre makers Anna Breckon and Nat Randall present their loose interpretation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in the world premiere of Set Piece. In the city’s south west The Substation will transform into three levels of choose-your-own-adventure theatre and mud wrestling, and Princess Park will become home to a hot air balloon made from at least 400 re-purposed plastic bags in Museo Aero Solar.

Ambitious in both its scope and scale, RISING is poised to set a new benchmark for what a cultural festival can be. The festival continues to Sunday 6 June 2021. For more information and full program, visit: www.rising.melbourne for details.

Image: Wandering Stars on the Birrarung (Yarra River) – courtesy of RISING