Things to do

7 small arts experiences to blow your mind in autumn

From demon bunnies to flamenco mastery, expand your horizons with these unmissable Sydney shows.

Gig 7 Small Arts Autumn Post

Let’s be honest – even for arts aficionados, Sydney’s cultural scene can be a little overwhelming.

Almost every night, you’ll find a quirky theatrical piece, stand-up comedy set, or storytelling event somewhere – or maybe something that combines all 3\. Sydney’s creatives are as tireless as they are talented.

And we can often do with a little extra push to get out and about, particularly if we work long hours or have other commitments.

Here’s a little taster for you – 7 events designed to charm your mind and widen your horizons.

Don’t forget, small arts events are good for the mind and the soul – and they’re good for the body too.

Alice in Slasherland

More an anarchic, demon-stuffed trip through hell than a stately night out at the theatre, Alice in Slasherland has something for every imaginable lover of the bizarre. Following a young high-schooler named Lewis as he struggles to fix one very big, very occult mistake ahead of prom night, Alice boasts a bunch of ghoulies as its heroes. It also has some inspired performances – particularly from its non-human, puppet cast. Best of all, there are matinee performances on Saturdays, so if you can’t face the idea of heading out after a long day at work, take in the chaos on the weekend.

City of Forking Paths

The City of Forking Paths represents nothing less than the future of immersive art. A self-guided, mobile phone-aided tour through a fictional spin on The Rocks, Forking Paths combines narrative storytelling and cutting-edge technology in a way that makes the familiar feel deeply magical. Coating the historic Rocks in a thin veneer of the fantastic, it’s a perfect experience for eager urban explorers. And it’s free.

Salon Flamenco

At East Sydney Community and Arts Centre in Darlinghurst for 1 fiery night only, Salon Flamenco will see 4 of Australia’s most talented flamenco artists offer an intimate glimpse into their new, evolving works. But it’s not just a must-attend event for lovers of dance – flamenco newcomers will get just as much out of it as battle-hardened movers and shakers.

Table Read

Table Read sees 2 of Australia’s hottest young comedians-turned-cinephiles, Aaron Chen and Alexei Toliopoulos, rework some of the greatest films in history as funny, deeply weird script reads. Forget big budgets and top of the line special effects: Chen and Toliopoulos settle for a cast of Australia’s funniest performers, a great story, and a whole host of deeply weird creative choices. Oh, and laughter really is the best medicine. As science has proven, good comedy can decrease stress and improve overall mood. So you’ll be bettering yourself as you watch, too.

Pictures: Songs From Movie Musicals

Veteran of the stage Kerrie Anne Greenland can’t get enough of movie musicals. She even recorded a whole album of her favourite tunes. Pictures boasts her distinctive take on everything from Maleficent’s Once Upon A Dream to Let It Go, the smash hit from the Disney musical Frozen. Now, she’s taking a stage version of that record on the road, belting out all of the classics in a 60-minute blast of pure, unadulterated melodic pleasure. Come for a spine-tingling performance of hits from Les Miserables, stay for Greenland’s winning, charming stage banter.

Arcing Wires

You might think you know how a jazz concert goes – a bunch of cool cats hop up on the stage with their instruments, and take turns performing long, complicated solos. But that’s not how an Arcing Wires gig works. The 5-piece is to jazz what Pablo Picasso is to portraiture. The ensemble doesn’t as much play jazz as tears it apart, reducing the form to its most base essentials. You’ve never heard anyone play bass the way that Arcing Wires’ Nick Henderson plays it, turning the usual contemplative noodling into sounds you’d expect to come out of an intergalactic meat grinder. You’ll never see jazz the same way again.

A Little Piece Of Ash

Megan Wilding is one of the most exciting voices in contemporary Australian theatre, a true polymath who has proven equally skilled when it comes to writing, directing and acting. Now, she’s showing off all 3 of those talents in A Little Piece Of Ash, her Patrick White Playwright’s Award nominated play about what it means to be an Indigenous woman in contemporary Australia. Bold and uncompromising, this is theatre at its most urgent. Watch and be informed.

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Published 15 April 2019, updated 12 December 2019