A debate on courage, creativity and our cultural imagination
In the PlayhouseTalks & Ideas
With Osman Faruqi, Wendy Harmer, Rebecca Huntley, Benjamin Law, Helen Pitt, and Yumi Stynes, hosted by Julia Zemiro
Would we build the Sydney Opera House today? It's an iconic building that inspires imagination and sparks conversations, but do we still have what it takes to bring such a bold vision to fruition?
Thursday 5 October 2023
All tickets $35
$8.95 booking fee applies per transaction
Prices correct at the time of publication and subject to change without notice. Exact prices will be displayed with seat selection.
The authorised agencies for this event are Sydney Opera House. For more information about Authorised Agencies, see the frequently asked questions below.
Sydney Opera House Insiders pre-sale
9am, Tuesday 22 August 2023
What’s On e-newsletter pre-sale
9am, Wednesday 23 August 2023
General Public tickets on-sale
9am, Friday 25 August 2023
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This performance will run for approximately 90 minutes.
Event duration is a guide only and may be subject to change.
Recommended for ages 15+
Children aged 15 years and under must be accompanied at all times. Children aged 0 - 23 months at the time of a performance may be seated on a parent’s lap free of charge. All children occupying a seat or aged 2 year/s of age or older must hold a valid ticket.
The proposition: There’s no way Sydney could build the Opera House today
Fifty years ago, Sydney Opera House opened its doors. It’s not an exaggeration to say this icon of daring modernism launched Sydney and Australia into a new era, with a bolder sense of itself as a place of creativity and imaginative thinking. It showed ourselves and the world the impact a building could have on a people, and on a place. And it became a symbolic marker for all Australians, a standard to meet.
Would such a building ever be built today? The 70s were a different time, after all. Would we take the risk? Would we greenlight a project that set for ourselves such a design and engineering challenge? Would our contemporary political imagination ever conceive of a project with this kind of creative ambition and requiring this kind of largesse? Join us for an informative, fun (possibly even raucous), old-school debate. It’s a chance to reflect and consider the kind of impact a building can have and to ask ourselves if we still have what it takes to bring such a daring vision to fruition. Oxford debate rules (loosely) apply.
Sydney Opera House presents
Arguing for: The Opera House Would Not Be Built Today
Osman Faruqi is culture editor for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. He was previously head of audio at Schwartz Media and editor of their daily news podcast 7am as well as host of their culture podcast, The Culture. He has worked as an editor at the ABC and was a reporter with the flagship audio documentary program Background Briefing. He’s hosted shows on Melbourne’s Triple R and Sydney’s FBi radio station.
Dr Rebecca Huntley is one of Australians foremost researchers on social trends. She holds degrees in law and film studies and a PhD in Gender Studies. She has lead research at Essential Media and Vox Populi and was a director at Ipsos Australia. For a number of years, she ran her own research and consultancy firm working closely with climate and environment NGOs, government and business on climate change strategy and communication. She is now Director of Research at the agency 89DegreesEast.
She is the author of numerous books including How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way that Makes a Difference (Murdoch books, 2020). Rebecca was a broadcaster with the ABC’s RN and presented The History Listen and Drive on a Friday. She writes regularly for The Monthly, Australian Traveller Magazine, The Guardian and the SMH.
Benjamin Law is an Australian writer and broadcaster. He’s the author of The Family Law (2010), Gaysia (2012), the Quarterly Essay Moral Panic 101 (2017) and editor of Growing Up Queer in Australia (2019).
Benjamin is also an AWGIE Award-winning screenwriter. He’s the co-executive producer, co-creator and co-writer of the Netflix comedy-drama Wellmania, creator and co-writer of three seasons of the award-winning TV series The Family Law (SBS/Hulu/Comedy Central Asia) and playwright of the sold-out mainstage play Torch the Place (Melbourne Theatre Company). He has a PhD in creative writing and cultural studies from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
Every week, Benjamin co-hosts ABC Radio National’s weekly national pop culture show Stop Everything and interviews public figures for Good Weekend. He hosted ABC TV’s two-part feature documentary on Chinese-Australian history Waltzing the Dragon, and has appeared on TV shows like Australian Survivor (Ten), Filthy Rich and Homeless (SBS), Q&A (ABC), The Drum (ABC) and The Project (Ten). He has also written for over 50 publications in Australia and beyond—including the Monthly, frankie, Guardian, Monocle and Australian Financial Review—and is a literary scout for Hachette Australia.
Arguing for: The Opera House Would Be Built Today
Wendy Harmer is one of Australia's most versatile and much-loved entertainers – broadcaster, author, journalist and stage performer.
As a stand-up comedian she performed at the Melbourne, Edinburgh, Montreal and Glasgow Mayfest Comedy Festivals, in London's West End and the Sydney Theatre Company. As a broadcaster, Wendy enjoyed huge popularity leading Sydney radio station 2Day FM's top-rating Breakfast Show for 11 years and was the co-host of ABC's 702 Sydney morning show from 2016 -2021. She has hosted, written and appeared in a variety of TV shows including ABC's The Big Gig.
A prolific columnist for a host of magazine and newspaper titles, Wendy is also the author of eight books for adults including her bestselling novels Farewell My Ovaries, Love and Punishment and Nagging for Beginners, a 'how-to' guide for women. She has also written two teen novels and multiple books for children in the Pearlie in the Park series. Wendy’s memoir Lies My Mirror Told Me will be published by Allen & Unwin in November.
Helen Pitt is the author of the Walkley Award winning book, The House, the extraordinary story of the Sydney Opera House and the people who built it. She is also a senior writer at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Yumi Stynes is a broadcaster and writer who's been working in Australian media for almost two decades, evolving from music reporter to her current focus as a writer on Arts, Culture, Food, Gender Politics and Human Sexuality.
She’s known for her honesty, warmth and humour. Like many women, Yumi is juggling — she does a daily radio show, works on several writing projects (two cookbooks, Zero F**ks and Zero F**ks Endless Summer, Welcome to Your Period, Welcome to Consent, and most recently Welcome to Your Boobs), and regularly runs 5km for a laugh — all while raising four children. She fronts 'Ladies, We Need to Talk', the popular podcast with ABC Audio Studios and was the host of the award-winning documentary Is Australia Sexist? on SBS television.
French born-Australian, Julia Zemiro is an acting graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts (1993) and a beloved Australian television personality.
Arguably best known as the host of the long-running SBS and Foxtel hit TV program RocKwiz,
Julia’s success includes hosting and co-producing the hugely successful Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery for the ABC, which completed their ninth and final series, the recent SBS series Great Australian Walks and the Logie winning Fisk seasons 1 & 2. Her co-hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest (2008-2016) lead to an unprecedented success for SBS.
She has been host for international touring artists such as documentary-maker Louis Theroux, author Bill Bryson, Stephen Fry and medical guru Michael Mosley – Australian Tour 2017.
Julia was also the BBC UK choice for the exclusive Australian television interview with Peter Capaldi on his worldwide press tour for Dr Who. She also co-hosted Stargazing Live with Brian Cox for ABC/BBC for 3 years.
Our foyers will be open 90 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and two hours pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Refreshments will be available for purchase from our theatre bars. Please remember to maintain physical distancing whilst consuming drinks in our foyers.
All Sydney Opera House foyers are pram accessible, with lifts to the main and western foyers. The public lift to all foyers is accessible from the corridor near the escalators on the Lower Concourse and also in the Western Foyer via the corridor on the Ground Level (at the top of the escalators). Pram parking will be available outside the theatres in the Western Foyer consistent with COVID-safe rules.
The Sydney Opera House Car Park, operated by Wilson Parking, is open and available to use. Wilson Parking offer discounted parking if you book ahead. Please see their website for details.
Please check the Transport NSW website for the latest advice and information on travel and COVID-19 safety measures. You can catch public transport (bus, train, ferry) to Circular Quay and enjoy a six min walk to the Opera House.
The health and wellbeing of everyone attending the Opera House is our top priority. We’re committed to making your experience safe, comfortable and enjoyable, with a number of measures in place including regular cleaning of high-touch areas, air conditioning systems that maximise ventilation, and hand sanitiser stations positioned in all paths of travel. We encourage you to wear a mask in indoor settings or when physical distancing can’t be maintained, and please stay home if you feel unwell. If you need to discuss your ticketing or booking options, contact our Box Office team on 02 9250 7777.
Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of everyone on site, and we are closely following NSW Health guidelines and advice. The Sydney Opera House is registered as a COVID Safe business with the NSW Government. For detailed information about our COVID-19 safety measures and what’s required of you when visiting, please see our plan your visit page.
Face masks are strongly recommended for all patrons while inside our theatres and foyers, including during the performance. Please bring your own mask.
As you move around the Opera House, practise physical distancing (1.5 metres whenever possible) and follow the guidance provided by our staff and signage.
Within venues, always take your allocated seat.
For detailed information about our COVID-19 safety measures and what’s required of you, please see our plan your visit page.
The Sydney Opera House no longer requires patrons to show that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Face masks are strongly recommended for all patrons while inside our theatres and foyers, including during the performance. Please bring your own mask.
Contact information is required when making a booking with us and upon arrival at the Opera House, as set out in our General Terms and Conditions for Tickets and Attendance at Events and our Customer Privacy Statement.
As the ticket purchaser, you are responsible for recording the contact details of your guests. Contact information will only be used for the purposes of contact tracing, if required, and will be deleted at least 28 days after your event.
Frequently asked questions
Ticket purchases and collection at our Box Office is discouraged and eTicket or postal delivery methods should be used, wherever possible. However, if you are collecting your tickets from the Box Office, we recommend doing this at least 60 minutes before the event starts. If you have already received your tickets, the venue doors will be open 45 minutes pre-show for Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and 30 minutes pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Please take your seats as soon as you arrive.
If you are late, we will seat you as soon as we can and, where possible, in your allocated seat. However, to reduce movement in the venue as well as minimise disruption to the performance and other patrons, ticketholders may be seated in an allocated latecomer’s seat. Please be aware that some events have lock-out periods. In these cases, latecomers will be admitted at a suitable break in the performance. On occasions, this may not be until the interval, or at all where there is no interval.
Details of our right to refuse admission can be found in our General Terms and Conditions for Tickets and Events.
In accordance with our venue security procedures, Opera House security will be scanning and checking bags under the Monumental Stairs, prior to entering the building. Bags will be scanned by an x-ray machine, and staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling your belongings, such as gloves. Cloaking facilities will be open 60 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and 60 minutes pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. However it is strongly encouraged that you travel lightly to minimise contact and queuing. Any bags larger than an A4 piece of paper will need to be checked into the Cloak Room.
The authorised agency for this event is the Sydney Opera House.
Only tickets purchased by authorised agencies should be considered reliable. If you purchase tickets from a non-authorised agency such as Ticketmaster Resale, Viagogo, Ticketbis, eBay, Gumtree, Tickets Australia or any other unauthorised seller, you risk that these tickets are fake, void or have previously been cancelled. RESALE RESTRICTION APPLIES. For more details, please refer to our General Terms and Conditions for Tickets and Attendance at Events.
Please contact Box Office on 9250 7777 as soon as possible to advise if you can no longer attend. If you can no longer attend because you are unwell, or have been in contact with someone displaying COVID-19 symptoms, the Opera House has introduced flexible ticketing options to help you.
Foyers will be open 90 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and two hours pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Refreshments will be available for purchase from our theatre bars.
The venue doors will be open 45 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and 30 minutes pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances.
Please bring a credit or debit card for any on site purchases to enable contactless payment. You’re welcome to bring your own water bottle but no other food and drinks are permitted inside our venues. Opera Bar, Opera Kitchen and Portside are also available for you to enjoy.
The health, safety and wellbeing of everyone at the Sydney Opera House is our top priority. In line with this commitment, the Opera House will become a smoke-free site from Saturday 1 January 2022.
By becoming a smoke-free site, the Opera House seeks to reduce exposure to harmful second-hand smoke, as well as minimise the impact of smoking on the environment, including litter and pollution of the surrounding marine environment.
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