Bringing the very best of Sydney Festival to the Riverside Theatres, Prince Alfred Square, Parramatta Park and the Granville Town Hall, the 2020 Parramatta Program will host three world premieres; the debut of Opera Australia's much-anticipated reprisal of Bran Nue Dae; and the return of festival family favourite, Sydney Symphony Under the Stars.
"We are a festival for all of Sydney", says Festival Director Wesley Enoch. "Showcasing great works as part of our Parramatta Program is part of our commitment to reflect the diversity of Sydney - from sea to mountains, from young to young at heart, from around the corner and around the world. Partnering with the City of Parramatta and artists from Western Sydney, Sydney Festival is about inviting the people living in Parramatta and surrounds to enjoy your city through ticketed and free events throughout January. Internationally acclaimed artists sit side by side with local heroes in this celebration of where we live."
The world's best-loved Aboriginal musical, Bran Nue Dae, gets a major revival at Riverside Theatres, thirty years after it premiered. Packed to the tin roof with humour and hope and fuelled by the soul-reggae-country sounds of cult band Kuckles, the late Jimmy Chi's musical is a road-trip through 1960s Western Australia with legendary Australian actor Ernie Dingo reprising his now iconic role as Uncle Tadpole.
Sydney Symphony Orchestra and conductor Benjamin Northey return to Parramatta Park for a night of beautiful music under the southern sky with Sydney Symphony Under the Stars. The perfect evening for families and friends to pack a hamper, grab a blanket and enjoy the Sydney summer in style, the free concert will see the orchestra perform a program of renowned compositions by Beethoven, Offenbach and John Williams – and for the grand finale, Tchaikovsky's rousing 1812 Overture.
At Parramatta's Prince Alfred Square, 16 young dancers from FORM Dance Projects and 48 musicians of the Western Sydney Youth Orchestra deliver three free performances of ENCOUNTER, a joyful site-specific work produced by Fling Physical Theatre, celebrating the extraordinariness of growing up in Western Sydney.
True West is a season of independent theatre from Riverside's National Theatre of Parramatta, celebrating contemporary voices and stories from Sydney's west – featuring the world premiere of award-winning director Dino Dimitriadis' take on the James Elazzi-penned Lady Tabouli; and play readings of Boom and Garage Sale.
From the early 1930s to the late 1960s, the Rivoli Dance Palace on Church St, Parramatta was Western Sydney's favourite dance hall. Now nothing remains of 'The Riv' except the stories of the people who used to dance there. Dance Makers Collective brings those stories to life in a tribute to the rituals of social dance and the human drive toward belonging and togetherness. Staged in the Heritage-listed Granville Town Hall, The Rivoli invites you and your favourite dance partner to be swept into an immersive exploration of mid-century nightlife, desire and social connection.
Rounding out the Parramatta Program is S. Shakthidharan's – writer of 2019 Festival hit and Helpmann Award-winner Counting and Cracking – showing of 宿 (stay), a collaboration with Singaporean performing arts company SAtheCollective, who will also separately premiere their experimental new album, in a performance melding traditional Chinese instruments with contemporary electronics and new, forward-thinking compositions.
Of the 2020 program, City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer said: "Parramatta is the place to be for the Sydney Festival this summer, with live music, independent theatre, and even a free family-friendly night under the stars on offer. The program celebrates Western Sydney's unique stories, voices and cultural traditions, at beloved locations such as Riverside Theatres and Parramatta Park. With a line-up like this, there's no doubt Parramatta has cemented itself as one of Australia's premier events destinations."
An essential fixture of Sydney's summer calendar, Sydney Festival 2020 takes place over three big weeks from 8–26 January.
Sydney Festival 2020
8 – 26 January