What’s HOT at the 2022 Brisbane Festival

AAR-Brisbane-Festival-WAYFINDER-photo-by-Amber-HainesBrisbane Festival returns with a vibrant new look and program, promising to fill the city with joyous connections, curiosity, inspired stories and a deep civic pride throughout September.

The third program from Artistic Director Louise Bezzina features more than 580 performances – 230 of which are free – including 22 new works, 12 Queensland premieres and six international presentations. With so much on, Australian Arts Review takes a look at 12 events worth checking out:

Considerable Sexual License
Brisbane Powerhouse: 15 – 17 September
Come on in, slip into something a little more comfortable. Let all those inhibitions go, baby. Proud Wiradjuri man Joel Bray and his remarkable team of collaborators take you on a flirty, filthy and passionate journey through the true history of sensuality, down under. Rejecting the conservative straightness of sexual politics in Australia, this provocative dance-theatre performance blends cabaret, comedy and choreography. Don’t believe what you’ve heard: the sexual revolution started well before the 60s!

Dance Halls
Various locations across Brisbane: continues to 24 September
Dance Halls celebrates the beauty of our community under twinkling lights, velvet drapes… and disco fever! It’s a whole-of community performance like no other. Lead by the unstoppable creators, Finucane & Smith who have played to 600,000 fans in 18 countries, combining entertainment with community driven practice. Global talent. Irresistible music. Festoons and fan-dancing. Torch songs and hot moves.

Cremorne Theatre – QPAC: continues to 17 September
Based on the best-selling memoir by award-winning journalist Shannon Molloy, Fourteen is the inspirational true story of growing up gay in central Queensland, transformed into a powerful must-see theatre production by nationally acclaimed shake & stir theatre co. Shannon Molloy is a year 9 student at an all-boys rugby-mad Catholic school in regional Queensland, with a secret that no one can ever find out. Shannon is gay. Equal parts uplifting and heart-wrenching, we follow Shannon in a year of self-discovery set amidst a backdrop of torment, bullying and betrayal – not just at the hands of his peers, but by the adults who were meant to protect him.

Kingpin Chermside Bowling Alley: 11 – 18 September
When did you last go bowling? Maybe you’re a little rusty? Perhaps a beginner? How would you feel if gutter guards and ramps were installed in advance to prevent any possibility of your failing to hit the pins? Well-intentioned “help” that smothers potential growth is something people with disability encounter all too often. Denial of the dignity of risk is one of many themes playfully explored in this witty and intelligent new work. Adelaide’s unique, multi award-winning company Restless Dance Theatre once more deliver, as their manifesto delightfully puts it, “unexpectedly real dance theatre that is collaboratively devised, inclusive and informed by disability”, this time in a ten-pin bowling alley. Coupled with the sights and sounds of being in an actual bowling alley, the audience melts into the narrative, some even enlisted to have a bowl themselves or invited to listen closely to an illuminated bowling bag.

Holding Archilles
Playhouse – QPAC: continues to 10 September
Set against the violence of the Trojan War, Holding Achilles by David Morton is a refreshing take on one of the ancient world’s best-known heroes, and his relationship with Patroclus, his not so well-known lover. As a young exile taken in by Achilles’ father, Patroclus faces hostility from the young hero until they are thrust together to train under the centaur Chiron, and the two form an unlikely friendship. As Achilles doggedly seeks to fulfil his mother’s prophecy to become a legend, their relationship becomes something more. But war with Troy is brewing, and the two young men find themselves caught between their hopes for a future together and the brutal realities of the world that faces them. This breathtaking new production from visual theatre masterminds Dead Puppet Society and physical theatre virtuosos Legs On The Wall reclaims the queer aspects of The Iliad.

Performance Lawn – Brisbane Powerhouse: continues to 3 October

A brand-new solo project by one of the masterminds behind House of Mirrors and 1000 Doors, Keith Courtney’s Kaleidoscope provides the brave and adventurous with a new and different space to explore, contemplate and dream. An experience that disorientates the senses and challenges our preconceptions, providing access to a new kind of engagement with beauty and tranquility, within a colour field of ever-changing light. Step inside a constantly shifting illusion.

Playhouse – QPAC: 14 – 17 September
Immerse yourself in Manifesto, an explosive ‘tattoo to optimism’ with electrifying dancing and huge, raw sound. Mass drumming and dance have historically represented military might – Manifesto flips antiquity on its head to bring us a rally cry to solidarity. Situated on a grand elevated set reminiscent of Busby Berkley, nine explosive drummers encircle nine astonishing dancers. Starting with a bang, the show becomes more complex and thrilling as it builds towards a wildly loud and powerfully danced crescendo. Created by artistic director and choreographer Stephanie Lake in collaboration with internationally renowned audio-visual artist and composer Robin Fox, Manifesto features a superb team of designers and performers.

Mistero Buffo
New Benner Theatre – Metro Arts: 14 – 17 September
An extraordinary, virtuosic romp through a hundred characters and locations by one incredible performer. Our 21st century travelling storyteller, a Deliveroo driver at the centre of the gig economy, rushes from his last job of the day to deliver a subversive, gleeful rallying cry for the disillusioned and disenfranchised. Award-winning theatre company, Rhum and Clay (UK), present Dario Fo’s devilishly funny masterpiece. A darkly comic look at the absurdities and inequalities of everyday life as seen through the eyes and tales of a travelling storyteller! With culture wars driving division and a pandemic that has highlighted vast economic inequalities, can laughter (and a little righteous anger) help unite us?

Polyserena: 20th Anniversary Celebration
South Bank Piazza – BOQ Festival Garden: Saturday 17 September
Brisbane’s powerhouse musical siblings Katie and Tyrone Noonan reunite to perform the legendary george album Polyserena in celebration of its 20th Anniversary. This iconic, double-platinum album had a huge impact on release in 2002, receiving six ARIA Award nominations and going on to land an amazing six songs in triple j’s Hottest 100. As a hometown bonus, Katie and Tyrone will be inviting some extra special family and friends musical guests to join them onstage to celebrate the album that changed their lives. Katie’s ARIA and National Jazz Award winning husband Zac Hurren will be joining the band on saxophones, alongside brilliant trumpeter Carl Harvoe. These two gents played on the original album 20 years ago. Katie and Zac’s sons, Dexter and Jonah, will also be joining their Uncle Ty and mum on drums and backing vocals for a completely unique and Brisbane Festival exclusive!

The House
South Bank Piazza – BOQ Festival Garden: 13 – 15 September
This year, Meanjin’s trailblazing ballroom house, The House of Alexander, reignites South Bank Piazza with their newest show. The House transverses through time and space weaving together ancestral knowledge from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations, the opulent nations of Southeast Asia, and to the archipelagos of the Pacific, back to the queer liberation of the underground ballroom scene in Harlem, New York. Showcasing traditional cultural dances reflecting the way of life and the various sounds across oceans fused with the highly stylised art form of voguing, this show will run like a thread as we remind ourselves of the warm caress of our homelands. Join us, as we voyage together through a night of self-expression and cultural intersection like our city has never seen before!

The Pool
BOQ Festival Garden: 6 – 24 September
Transforming South Bank Parklands for Brisbane Festival is this award-winning artwork inspired by tidal pools of Australia. The Pool is a giant field of concentric circles that swirl with colour when activated by touch, inviting visitors to jump, dance and play across the cosmos, to their hearts content! Created by New York artist Jen Lewin, The Pool has travelled to over sixty exhibition venues in more than twenty countries since 2008. Originally built for Burning Man, the exhibit comprises of 100 light pads that change colours when touched. Lewin developed the mechanics behind the artwork herself, using mesh-network technology and custom code, to create individual platforms that communicate with one another when touched, encouraging participation in an ever-changing composition.

Powerhouse Theatre – Brisbane Powerhouse: 21 – 24 September
Physical exuberance, sonic resonance, and collective exhilaration explode onto stage in a kaleidoscopic fusion of dance, music and visual art. Directed by Amber Haines and Kyle Page, Dancenorth joins forces with three-time Grammy nominated Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote and sound artist Byron J. Scullin to create a soaring composition evoking pleasure and possibility. An undulating sound sculpture condenses and expands this scintillating score, immersing audiences in a new sonic dimension. Japanese-Australian visual artist Hiromi Tango offers her joyful, heart-expanding artwork to both the stage design and costumes for this sublime new performance, featuring lighting design by Niklas Pajanti. A summoning of collective awe and wonder, this world premiere performance promises to be one of the great theatrical events of the year.

The 2022 Brisbane Festival continues to 24 September. For more information and full program, visit: www.brisbanefestival.com.au for details.

Image: Dancenorth presents WAYFINDER – photo by Amber Haines