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A Guide to UnWrapped May - June 2022

Captivating shows and diverse stories from the independent artists of UnWrapped

Mimi Nightingale & Emily Edgar
Sydney Opera House

After a Covid hiatus, UnWrapped is back with a program of captivating visions and true artistry from some of the finest independent Australian creators, curated by Sydney Opera House Director of Programming Fiona Winning. Here’s your handy guide to this exciting new program.

RUNT

12 - 14 May

What is it?

A hard hitting, powerful piece of female-led theatre that’ll have you enraptured from start to finish. From the makers of the critically acclaimed SHIT (Sydney Festival), Patricia Cornelius, Susie Dee and Nicci Wilks, this bold theatrical work follows one small woman’s attempt to take back power, to lead the oppressed, to rise up and fight for equality in this unrelenting world.

You'll like this if...

You're a fan of raw, feminist stories with a strong message like Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You. RUNT deals with confronting topics but doesn't shy away from a sprinkling of lighter, funnier moments.

Fiona's take

"RUNT is made by an award winning collaborative team of formidable women artists - Susie Dee, Patricia Cornelius and Nicci Wilks. I’ve long admired their gritty contemporary work about gender and class. Combining stocatto writing, humour and powerful physicality, RUNT focuses our attention on the runts of the litter. The rebuked, bullied and ignored. Can they transcend runtness, fight for the underdog, and come to power? As the show suggests, ‘greatness forgets runtness’.  Sole performer Nicci Wilks is pure fierce energy as she undergoes this transformation."

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HOW TO LIVE

(After You Die)

12 - 14 May

What to expect?

Are you obsessed with cults? Emmy Award winning filmmaker and artist Lynette Wallworth sheds light on the seduction of cultish extremism, telling her own story of joining an extreme Pentecostal group. With footage from her time in the cult, Lynette speaks to the visuals on stage so you can see first hand a true-life tale of life in a cult.

You'll like this if...

You binged the entire series of Big Love. Balancing the insightful and the absurd, Lynette Wallworth’s UnWrapped debut tackles the most taboo of topics - religion - to test the limits of our capacity for understanding these extreme groups.

If you bypassed early noughties HBO, then this is also well suited to all you Handmaid's Tale OR Unorthodox fanatics. Particularly the more haunting elements of living in a closed-off community.

Fiona's take

"Another extraordinary woman artist whose work spans diverse social and political landscapes is Lynette Wallworth. After making memorable films and installations at the cutting edge of technology, HOW TO LIVE (After You Die) is her own story. A pared back monologue about her experiences as a young woman who finds herself coming of age in a Christian sect, Lynette shares insights into her own search for meaning,  and in the process reclaims her own voice."

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ENCOUNTER SYDNEY

18 - 21 May

What to expect?

An open-air dance performance on the Opera House Forecourt with young dancers performing to a powerful soundtrack by the Western Sydney Youth Orchestra, in an exploration of the unrelenting spirit of youth. And it’s free! There’s really no excuse not to see this live dance work directed by dancer, choreographer and curator Emma Saunders, and developed in collaboration with FORM Dance Projects and award-winning Australian artists.

You'll like this if...

You came to our free Every Body Dance now classes and are looking to get another fix of dance this May. 

Or if you’re looking for a fun, free way to start your night in the city at one of the world's most iconic buildings. Before you see a show or head for dinner and drinks, stop off at the Forecourt and experience the amazing energy of these young dancers.

Fiona's take

"It's so exciting to be presenting ENCOUNTER SYDNEY as a free event on the Monumental Steps and across the forecourt. Choreographed by the inspired performance maker Emma Saunders, a group of young Western Sydney dancers – the WE ARE HERE Company will take the space by storm with their bodies alone. Performed to a soundtrack composed by Amanda Brown and Jodi Phillips, performed and recorded by the musicians of the Western Sydney Youth Orchestra, watch the space on dusk as these yellow-clad figures emerge, explore and leave us for dust!"

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Coil

8 - 11 June

What to expect?

Coil is a cross between a play and film or “live-cinema” event. Keith Gallash describes it as a "funny-sad eulogy for, among other things, the demise of video rental stores around Australia."  There is a double eulogy at play with Coil also exploring the reduction of their performance collective from 15 to 3 since they formed at university. Coil has been showing around the country and received glowing reviews at its recent PACT season.

You'll like this if...

You're tired of browsing through Netflix and trying to decide what to watch. All you wish is to visit your local video store like the good old days.

Or if you love 90s cult movie Clerks where two convenience store clerks annoy customers, discuss movies, analyse their love lives, and avoid working!

Fiona's take

"Coil is a brilliantly crafted live cinema event - a mix of live and screened action that twists and turns. It’s hilarious and surprisingly poignant. Set in an all too familiar, now extinct, video shop, Coil is made by the fabulous re:group performance collective. The three performers deftly loop time and memory around and back in on itself as we watch the protagonist lamenting the closure of his local video shop, the downsizing of the re:group collective and of friendships that are changed or lost forever. All the while he dextrously switches characters in a series of short livestreamed snippets screened onstage. Streaming killed the video store. And life is not what it was. As they speculate on the nature of change and loss, re:group also makes a hilarious film trailer before our eyes each night. It’s high energy and exciting to watch."

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MotherTongue, MotherLand

8 May

What to expect?

Expect an immersive, poetic response to motherhood led by award-winning vocalist, improviser and composer Sunny Kim. Accompanied by internationally renowned female collaborators, Helen Svoboda (double bass), Aviva Endean (clarinets), Mindy Meng Wang (guzheng) and Gelareh Pour (kamancheh, geychak and vocals), the musicians will explore their relationships with their mothers, many of whom were born on overseas shores. This will be an incredibly special performance for Mother's Day.

You'll like this if...

You like close-up and personal music experiences like our Utzon Music program, this one is for you. The Studio is an intimate space for the musicians to share and celebrate family stories. 

Or if you like to make a day of it when you see a show. Why not treat your mum to a lunch or share plate at Portside before you see the show together?

Fiona's take

"I first saw Sunny Kim perform with the Australian Art Orchestra and was struck by her haunting vocals and generosity as a performer. So we’re very proud to have commissioned and to premiere her new work MotherTongue, MotherLand performed with an amazing group of women musicians Helen Svoboda, Aviva Endean, Mindy Meng Wang and Gelareh Pour. A poetic response to motherhood in relation to migration, it promises to be a very special music event. Bring your mum!"

Due to artist illness, the performance of MotherTongue, MotherLand was postponed. Customers will be contacted about the booking. We thank you for your understanding. 

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You may also like...

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Coil

Blurring the boundaries of theatre and cinema, Coil draws on our collective memories to pay tribute to the glory days of the video store and commemorate the communities we made within them.

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RUNT

RUNT is about one small woman’s attempt to take power and lead the oppressed in a fight for equality, decency and what’s right. Directed by Susie Dee and written by Patricia Cornelius, Nicci Wilks delivers a powerful performance in this daring, physical one-woman show.

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HOW TO LIVE (After You Die)

Emmy award-winning filmmaker/artist Lynette Wallworth brings her renowned storytelling skills to the stage in a surprising new work that sheds light on the seduction of cultish extremism.