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FESTIVAL – Sydney Festival 2010: Theatre

January 9, 2010toJanuary 30, 2010

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Sydney Festival has an astounding array of theatre in 2010 program, ranging from the truly epic to stories of the everyday and everything in between. Kicking off the theatre program is a re-telling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from Schaubühne Berlin. Directed by Thomas Ostermeier, and performed in German, this audacious production uses a cast of just six actors, taking on the mammoth task with passion, anguish and macabre humour.
At the Seymour Centre, UK’s Headlong theatre revisit a classic of the early 20th century, Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. Directed by Rupert Goold, and following its critically acclaimed season in London’s West End, this radical re-imagining of this celebrated satire is a sinister parable for a media-obsessed age and an exhilarating exploration of how we define ourselves and our ‘reality’.
For a truly majestic experience, internationally acclaimed director Peter Sellars brings a rarely performed Stravinsky double bill to a transformed Concert Hall at Sydney Opera House. Oedipus Rex & Symphony of Psalms is a performance of epic proportions, featuring the Sydney Symphony, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, soloists including Yvonne Kenny, and Paula Arundel as Antigone/Narrator.
Sellars’ pairing of the two works positions the Symphony of Psalms as a balm for the bleak despair of Oedipus’ fate, giving the myth an ending of transfiguration and peace.
Things become a little more upbeat with comedian Frank Woodley leading a cast of unruly characters in Sydney Theatre Company’s Optimism at the Sydney Opera House. Candide, Voltaire’s classic 18th century novel of enlightened insanity, has transformed into a cutting commentary on the no worries bravura of the contemporary swagger. Directed by Michael Kantor, Optimism opened the theatre program at Edinburgh International Festival 2009, winning a prestigious Herald Angel Award for Woodley.
The reinterpretation of the classics keeps coming with Pan Pan Theatre’s Oedipus Loves You. With dark humour and a live punk music score, this eccentric and original production is inspired by the classic Oedipus plays of Sophocles and Seneca and the Freudian theory they spawned, but sets the myth in a dysfunctional suburban household.
From one of Australia’s leading theatre companies, Urban Theatre Projects (Back Home in 2006 and The Last Highway in 2008), comes their newest creation, The Fence. Set in a typical family home in Sydney’s western suburbs, the play investigates the resilience and wisdom of five middle-aged Australians, four of whom grew up in care as part of the Stolen Generations and Forgotten Australians, in an explosive tale of love, belonging and dispossession.
From Belgium’s Muziektheater Transparant comes Ruhe, where a spellbinding recital of Schubert lieder is abruptly interrupted by two people who wish to admit to their voluntary service in the SS in 1940. Partrecital, part-monologue, Ruhe is a powerful and challenging piece of theatre set in the magnificent surrounds of The Great Hall at The University of Sydney.

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