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Reasons to be cheerful

Rutger Bregman & Jess Scully


A cynical view sees humanity as bad by nature. But what if we're not selfish, but instead inherently good, hopeful, and kind? Could this understanding change everything?
In the Joan Sutherland Theatre | View Seat Map | Talks & Ideas
Please note, Rutger Bregman will be appearing via video, with Jess Scully and host Edwina Throsby on stage. 

Keeping you safe

  • The Sydney Opera House is registered as a COVID Safe business with the NSW Government.
  • We strongly recommend that patrons over the age of 12 wear a face mask while attending a performance inside one of our venues.
  • As you move around the Opera House, practise physical distancing (1.5 meters whenever possible) and follow the guidance provided by our staff and signage. 
  • Within venues, please adhere to our spaced seating plans and always take your allocated seat.
  • There are new COVID-specific conditions of entry for audiences attending performances. This includes the circumstances under which you must not attend the Opera House, and what’s required of you when you visit. Please read about them here.

“Catastrophes bring out the best in people.”

Rutger Bregman

Lets get hopeful about nature

Doomscrolling can convince us the world is full of evil people - but bad news is only part of the story. Curator and councillor Jess Scully's new book, Glimpses of Utopia, highlights stories from around the world where people respond to crises with hope and help. In Kenya and Bangladesh slums are being transformed to safe havens, and care workers are reclaiming control in India and Lebanon. Likewise, Dutch popular historian Rutger Bregman reveals that humans are not destructive and selfish, but innately communal and cooperative. 

What new possibilities can we imagine for society, politics, and economics, if we accept that human beings are inherently peaceful and friendly? Don't miss these radical optimists look to a sustainable and inclusive future.

Presented by Sydney Opera House

More about Rutger Bregman...

Rutger Bregman is a historian and author. He has published five books on history, philosophy, and economics. His books Humankind and Utopia for Realists were both New York Times bestsellers and have been translated in more than 40 languages. Bregman has twice been nominated for the prestigious European Press Prize for his work at The Correspondent. He lives in Holland.

More about Jess Scully...

Jess Scully is a curator who uses creativity to engage people. Jess was the founding director of Vivid Ideas; she has curated events including Junket, TEDxSydney and Curating Participation, served as arts policy advisor to the NSW Minister for the Arts, and was a founding contributor to the Sydney Culture Network. In 2019 she was elected as Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney. Her first book, Glimpses of Utopia: Real Ideas for a Fairer World, was published in August 2020.

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This year you will have the option to purchase digital tickets to experience the festival online. More information to be released soon. 

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Venue Information

In-line with current NSW Government advice, all venues will have a reduced venue capacity of 50% (or a maximum of 1000 guests).

In order to maintain physical distancing within venues, tickets to this event will be sold in a single seat pattern. At all times, we will do our best to support your needs, but please bear in mind that this will be subject to the restrictions in place at that time.

Refreshments will be available for purchase from our theatre bars, and should be consumed while seated in designated foyers spaces. For select shows, drinks purchased at our theatre bars can also be taken into venues. Please check specific event information closer to the performance date.

An example of COVID safe seating (single seats) with physical distancing

Transport options

  • We encourage you to use private transport options to minimise crowding on public transport (in line with NSW Government advice).  
  • The Sydney Opera House Wilson car park is open and available to use. Wilson Parking is currently offering a $10 discounted rate 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 6 min walk to the Opera House. 

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