Welcome to September! This means that another Brisbane Festival is upon us. For the first time in a few years, while everyone SHOULD take precautions, there is minimal risk that COVID-19 will bring this year’s festivities to a sudden stop, and thus there appears to be a lot more on offer this year. While what you will likely want to see is very subjective, and if in the Brisbane area this month you should check out the full event listing HERE. But if you are a bit of a theatre/otaku aficionado like me, then I would like to share some of the events that caught my eye, and that I think will be worth checking out.
1Maho Magic Bar
As someone who does not drink alcohol, there are a few things that I ever feel like I have missed out on because of my decision. One of these would easily be Maho Magic Bar, created by Broad Encounters, the same team behind 2021’s A Midnight Visit – which has been travelling down south but now calls Queensland home until 18 September. This was launched a couple of months ago as part of Brisbane Festival’s Early Event Program, and is still here to serve you drinks and entertain you with magic until its final day.
As part of the Twilight Electric precinct on Brisbane’s Northshore, Maho Magic Bar Visitors will be able to step inside the pop-up venue, depicted as a neon-clad, intimate bespoke and gorgeously refined bar and entertainment space spread across six performance areas. After taking your seat and selecting your drink of choice, consummate master magicians, direct from the magic bars of Japan, will perform your own exclusive magic show at your table – creating an “unforgettable, multi-sensory and interactive experience” which they claim is “unlike anything else you’ll find in Brisbane”.
To be honest, the neon-lit locale, the concept of a bar-like venue for magic and a good night out with friends all make this an appealing opportunity. Plus, there are some non-alcoholic options for the ‘designated drive’, such as the Ichigo Delight mocktail (Strawberry, Vanilla, Green Tea) and some other Japanese classics.
For those who have not been reading my articles on theatrical productions for long, one thing you should know is that I think shake & stir theatre co is a fabulous company which has seen many classic novels (Australian or otherwise) brought to stages across Australia and even pioneered their own education platform shortly after COVID-19 struck. Their latest work is an adaptation of Shannon Molloy’s memoir, Fourteen, which is having its world premiere in the Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s (QPAC) Cremorne Theatre from now until 17 September 2022.
The novel, released in 2020, is a coming-of-age memoir about a young man’s search for identity and acceptance in his fourteen year of life. It is an account of Molloy’s experience at an all-boys rugby-mad Catholic school in regional Queensland; the bullying, torment and betrayal as well as the moments of resilience, love and hilarity that punctuated his 14th year. It is pitched as offering “equal parts uplifting and heart-wrenching” storytelling, and from friends I know who have seen it, is shaping up to be a memorable inclusion as part of Brisbane Festival’s schedule.
For those unable to make it to Brisbane to see Fourteen, I would envision this would become part of their touring schedule in the future.
3Girl From The North Country
Those after a musical experience during Brisbane Festival may want to consider popping over to the QPAC Lyric Theatre, where it will be playing host to Girl From the North Country from this Thursday until Sunday 18 September 2022. This marks the production’s Brisbane debut, co-produced by GWB Entertainment and Damien Hewitt, and is based around the music by acclaimed performer Bob Dylan. The musical will feature twenty songs of Dylan’s, including Hurricane, I Want You, Slow Train Coming, Forever Young and Like A Rolling Stone – and is set in the mid-1930s, a story of American Life and a community on a knife-edge.
While performances haven’t commenced yet, the accolades around it being a more mature musical and well-executed production gives the impression this might not be a show to bring the kids to, but may be one for those who are long-time fans of Bob Dylan’s works or a break from some of the more family-oriented musicals we have been receiving in recent years.
While a very short season at only a couple of weeks in length, some big names are involved – including Lisa McCune, Peter Kowitz, Helen Dallimore, Peter Carroll and Greg Stone.
4Common People Dance Eisteddfod
The Common People Dance Project, which runs “fun all-ages and all-abilities dance workshops, classes and programs for people to discover the joy of learning big choreographed group routines, celebrate community and lose themselves in dance”, are back in 2022 for their fourth Brisbane Festival outing with Common People Dance Eisteddfod on Sunday 18 September 2022 in the South Bank Piazza, BOQ Festival Garden.
This 90-minute production is reasonably priced at $25-35, and will see a “mighty dance battle between suburban gladiators from the North, South, East and West of Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast”. According to the producers, expect “sequins, sweat and spandex” as these “suburban gladiators body roll, fist pump and running man their way to victory”.
While not something I would usually add to my watch list, the combination of the stellar promotional artwork captured by Joel
Deveruex, the mission statement of Common People Dance, and the general impression of community I get from this production – make it one I will strive to get up to Brisbane to see the weekend after next. Plus, it just seems like it will be a really good, uplifting time. We need more of that in the world.
A promotional image with an arcade machine? This production caught my attention immediately. Following shake & stir theatre co’s production of Fourteen, the QPAC Cremorne Theatre will be home to Blak Social’s debut work, Queen’s City, being presented by Brisbane Festival, Screen Queensland and Queensland Performing Arts Centre from 21-24 September 2022.
Queen’s City is written and directed by Alethea Beetson, and revolves around the idea that “Every city is nestled on top of a watering hole, bursting with truths that have been hidden and controlled”. In this Queen’s City, the heart lies at ‘All Ways’, a karaoke bar and skating rink run by local matriarch, Truth, and her trusty attendants: Justice, Magick and Grace.
But when politicians threaten to tear down All Ways to make way for new ‘cultural’ activities, the crew from the ‘wrong side’ of Restriction Avenue have to find a way to rewrite the past to save their beloved place. Sure, it was the promotional artwork that encouraged me to read more, but its intriguing concept, choice of ‘Watering Hole’, and the idea of this being an Indigenous Futurism performance with science fiction and comedy elements make it another production I am eager to see.