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Dreaming of the horizon

Our Heads of Programming and Visitor Experience on how international travel has set them on their career paths, and their top overseas destinations when restrictions are eased.

In collaboration with Major Partner, Etihad Airways

Tamara Harrison

The best stories are often found between the pages of a passport. To prove it, we’re asking our Heads of Programming about their travels across the globe and how these experiences have inspired change, new ideas and set them on a course to careers at the Sydney Opera House – where they now bring a world of culture to our stages. 

And because we’re all at home dreaming up our next overseas adventure, we also asked them to divulge their travel wish list – for a little inspiration for when we can jump on a plane again.

Introduce yourself and your role at SOH

Hello, my name is Tamara Harrison and I am Head of Children, Families and Creative Learning at the Sydney Opera House.

What do you like the most about your role?

Working with and for young audiences, is not only fun, but you really feel like you’re having an impact. Providing opportunities for young people and their families to experience the world through new perspectives and stories, helps to foster greater empathy and cross-cultural connection. Experiencing laughter, joy, sadness, silliness and the sheer wonder of many performing arts experiences expands our hearts and minds. If we can equip our young people with greater empathy, we have great future leaders! 

Dancer bent backwards, enacting the Freeman win, smoke shrouds her body

Tamara Harrison, Head of Children, Families and Creative Learning.

Tell me about  an overseas experience you’ve had that you’ve drawn on for inspiration in this role

I used to run a theatre company for children and families and we regularly performed in Europe, the USA, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and the UK. So I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of overseas experience to inspire this role.

On one stand out trip we travelled from London to Paris to see the famous Theatre du Soleil. We walked the streets of Paris all day, soaking up the atmosphere, eating French food and then arriving at the famous La Cartoucherie to see the performance, Tambours sur La Digue. Before the performances, guests are encouraged to share a meal at a long table, and through translucent curtains, can see the actors preparing for their performance: getting into lavish costumes and having their make-up done. The performance itself was riveting, combining Bunruku puppetry and Asian theatre styles with actors from all over the world. At the time I was studying theatre in London and all I wanted to do was stay with this magical company forever! 

“... watching the reactions of the local families I was reminded yet again that we are the same all over the world.”

Another time I remember boarding a plane in Australia early evening and arriving the next morning in Seoul, Korea. I walked straight out of the terminal and onto a regional bus that drove me the 1.5 hours to Daejeon. Using Google Maps I then walked from the bus station to the arts centre, where my team were setting up for a performance. To this day, I remember the sheer exhilaration I felt at having so easily travelled to the other side of the world across several modes of transport to arrive at my destination, where everyone was getting ready for the performance. Participating in our performance, and watching the reactions of the local families I was reminded yet again that we are the same all over the world. Sharing a performance is a great way to connect with others and be reminded of our universal condition.

What are the top three destinations you are most looking forward to travelling to once travel restrictions are lifted and why? What are you looking forward to experiencing there?.

I look forward to travelling to Greece again and in particular Athens. As the birthplace of Western drama, Athens is always an inspiration. My kids are of an age that they would really appreciate seeing the ancient ruins of the Parthenon and the Acropolis, to better understand and be inspired by the ancient myths and legends. Needless to say we’d also be focussing on the very healthy Mediterranean diet – fresh fish, vegetables and a lot of olive oil!

I look forward to being able to travel to Beijing again. China is such a fascinating country and when in Beijing I love to wander around the Hutongs getting a glimpse of another era. When in Beijing I like to ride a bicycle like the locals – it is the most efficient way to get around! We will have dumplings of course, and I love to walk around the Forbidden City – this is a grand theatre set in itself, a monument to human ingenuity and vision.

I hope to get to London again soon too. I lived there for four years studying theatre. There is such a wealth of performing arts to experience here. Saturday afternoon at the Royal Court and then off to the National Theatre to see some of the most talented English speaking actors in the world. If I’m lucky I’d be there for L.I.F.T (London International Festival of Theatre) to see an amazing range of contemporary practises in locations all over London. A bike ride up Kingsland Road in the East End through Dalston, past the Middle Eastern and African restaurants up to Stoke Newington. A bagel from Brick Lane and if you can beat the crowds here, a tube ride down to Hyde Park for a walk through the most amazing green pastures in the City.

Inspired to go on your next adventure?  To help you on your way Etihad Airways are offering you a chance to win a trip of a lifetime with Business Flights to Abu Dhabi and a five night stay at The St Regis Abu Dhabi.

For your chance to Expand Your Horizons, enter the competition below to win a trip to Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airway’s gateway to a world of discovery with Business Flights and a five night stay at The St Regis Abu Dhabi. Terms and conditions apply. 
Valid to redeem until 31 December 2021, you can head on your adventure when the time is right.

Etihad Airways are a Major Partner of the Sydney Opera House. Etihad is proud to fly artists from all over the world to perform here in Australia.

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