Sydney Festival program: from thought-provoking to gleefully silly

For Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch, choosing shows each year is as much about wish fulfilment as it is about budgets. 

"I like to think that artistic ambition always outstrips resources. My job is to think big as much as I can," Enoch said.

And two performances in this year's  festival are the fulfilment of such long-held aspirations. 

"One that has been my dream show that I'm bringing out this year is Ronnie Burkett with The Daisy Theatre.” 

The marionette revue for adults is an ever-changing affair with a rotating cast of 40 characters all controlled by the Canadian puppeteer.

Something for everyone: Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch urges people to "get out there and enjoy everything the city has to offer". Picture: Louie Douvis

Something for everyone: Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch urges people to "get out there and enjoy everything the city has to offer". Picture: Louie Douvis

Tree of Codes, the contemporary ballet inspired by Jonathan Safran Foer's experimental book of the same name, was another one Enoch is excited about.

"That was a big show that we've been wanting for a couple of years.”

The January offering this year is as broad as ever with a vast range of performances and events from the experimental to the conventional and thought-provoking to gleefully silly.

For Sydneysiders seeking something unexpected, Enoch's pick as the most surprising addition to the  program is the Village Sideshow in Hyde Park. 

"It's what I call the cultural speed date, things that you can do in five to 10 minutes," he says. 

The fun park is filled with wild, wonderful and bizarre attractions featuring shipping container swimming pools, a karaoke carousel and a virtual reality ghost train.

There is also the Glitterbox, Temple of Din pinball artworks, 10 Minute Dance Parties and more.

In the Spiegeltent this year festivalgoers find everything from the risqué boys of Briefs to the smash-hit Irish cabaret RIOT; music from counter cultural icon Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, dark-folk star Aldous Harding, Mali’s Bassekou Kouyaté and Argentinian trio Fémina; comedy from Lords Of Strut and mime Trygve Wakenshaw; and cabaret queen Lady Rizo.

Festival-goers will also be wowed by the Australian premiere of Jurassic Plastic, an installation by Japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji that is exclusive to the event.

Fuji has collected discarded toys and used them to construct a giant, 60kg ‘Toysaurus’ made from more than 400 individual pieces.

In total, about 100,000 toys were used as part of his mesmerising installation.

Enoch is keen to see visitors explore whatever takes their fancy on the festival's purposely diverse schedule.

"Get involved. People can sit on their computers or watch their television in summer, or you can get out there and enjoy everything the city has to offer."

  • For detailed information about festival events go to sydneyfestival.org.au