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Invisible Cities – Brisbane Festival 2019

24 September - 28 September

invisible cities

Don’t be fooled by a seemingly empty suburban warehouse; the vast industrial space is home to Invisible Cities, one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by Brisbane Festival.

Built out of necessity to house the epic work it will host, the bespoke1050-seat pop-up theatre will exist for five nights only – making it a true ‘festival-only’ experience.
Loosely based on the 1972 novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities is an audacious multi-artform spectacle, a fantasy conjured by an international team of creative innovators that plays its exclusive Australian season from 24 – 28 September 2019.

Invisible Cities brings together a global collective of daring artists directed by Leo Warner and encompassing world-leading digital and projection storytellers 59 Productions, writer Lolita Chakrabarti, Canadian musicians A Winged Victory for the Sullen, famed Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and the full company of Rambert, one of the world’s great dance companies.

Audience members are invited inside a cavernous warehouse on Fairfield Road at Yeerongpilly, in Brisbane’s south, which seems at first devoid of any physical elements.
As they take their seats around a central space, visions of civilisations are conjured out of thin air via a spellbinding mix of theatre, choreography, music, water, sand, projection mapping and technical wizardry.

The audience becomes immersed in the foundation of Zenobia, a city of joy; Beersheba, a celestial city of gold; and Isadora, a city of promise, seduction and desire.

Brisbane Festival Artistic Director David Berthold said Invisible Cities solidified Calvino’s bold, dream-like musings on cities, culture and imagination, centring on the edgy relationship between the volatile 13th Century Mongol conqueror and Emperor Kublai Khan (Danny Sapani) and Venetian explorer Marco Polo (Matthew Leonhart).

“City by city, the famous explorer must transcend the language barrier to describe the spectacular empire,” Mr Berthold said.  “As Marco Polo’s descriptions gain confidence, the evocations of these cities will become more spectacular, surreal and elaborate”.

“In a striking contrast to this, we will see Kublai Khan’s immediate physical world begins to dissolve.” Mr Berthold said Invisible Cities redefined the possibilities of live performance and strengthened Brisbane Festival’s resolve to turn the world’s eyes to Brisbane. “This is a huge undertaking and I am confident it will set a new benchmark in performance innovation and scale for the Festival, for Brisbane, for Queensland, and indeed for the world”.

Brisbane Festival has co-commissioned the work with international organisations in London, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Kuwait, and will present the exclusive Australian season directly following July’s world premiere at Manchester International Festival.

Director and founder of 59 Productions, Leo Warner, says “Invisible Cities explores how we can find a way to live amidst the chaos of civilisation. It examines how the choices and actions of humanity shape the world around us, and how the cities we inhabit affect how we live our lives.

“It is a huge privilege to mount such an ambitious and multi-disciplinary production on a world stage, and to work with this extraordinary team of creative and technical collaborators” concluded Mr Warner.

John McGrath, Artist Director and Chief Executive at Manchester International Festival said, “Invisible Cities is a truly breathtaking performance, created by some of the most exciting artists working today in a unique interdisciplinary collaboration.

“We’re thrilled that it’s coming to the Brisbane Festival. It has been a great joy to work with Brisbane as co-producers on this visionary work – as a result of working together, we have been able to achieve an extraordinary artistic ambition and I am confident that Brisbane Festival’s audiences will be amazed by the results.”

An exclusive professional development program will run in conjunction with Invisible Cities, providing opportunities for local artists and practitioners to learn from the global leaders fronting the project.

Invisible Cities is produced by Manchester International Festival, 59 Productions, Rambert and Karl Sydow and was commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Brisbane Festival, Hong Kong New Vision Arts Festival, Sadler’s Wells, SMG Live, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Cultural Centre (JACC) and Karl Sydow.

Invisible Cities takes shape at 880 Fairfield Road, Yeerongpilly from 24-28 September 2019

Brisbane Festival opens the doors to 23 days of revelry, revelations and romance from 6 – 28 September 2019. A full program of theatre, music, dance, opera, circus and major public events is available at brisbanefestival.com.au.

About Brisbane Festival

Brisbane Festival is one of Australia’s major international arts festivals and Queensland’s largest cultural event, which attracts an audience of more than one million people every year.

Running from the 6th – 28th of September 2019, Brisbane Festival is renowned and celebrated for connecting local and international artists and audiences through a captivating program.

Brisbane Festival 2019 is Artistic Director David Berthold’s fifth and final program, boasting a truly revel-worthy program of big-name acts, countless world and Australian premieres, and the most spectacular show Brisbane Festival has ever seen; combining dance, light and powerful storytelling.

The 23-day celebration crescendos 28th September with the highly anticipated and much-loved Festival favourite, Sunsuper Riverfire.

For more information, visit: www.brisbanefestival.com.au


24 September
28 September
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