The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) is about to burst back into life as the state’s major arts companies return to its stages between 27 September and 20 December, thanks to recovery funding from the Queensland Government.

Opera Queensland, Queensland Ballet, Queensland Symphony Orchestra Queensland Theatre and Circa will all perform there over the coming months, as part of a program called Queensland’s Own. They will present their shows to socially distanced audiences, with the theatres operating at 50 percent capacity in a COVID Safe environment.

Neneka Yoshida and Victor Estevez in Queensland Ballet’s 60 Dancers: 60 Stories. Photograph © Tamara Hanton

QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said the program was an important move forward in the industry’s recovery, as well as a significant step in QPAC’s reopening.

Along with performing arts venues around the country, QPAC closed its doors in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks, it took the first step back to live performance when it presented QPAC Unlocked, a series of intimate, socially distanced performances in the Concert Hall and Lyrebird Restaurant, including Viva España featuring Camerata and flamenco guitarist Andrew Veivers, and Wonderland – An Evening of Classics featuring soprano Katie Stenzel, baritone Samuel Piper and pianist Alex Raineri.

“The recent success of our sold out QPAC Unlocked program shows there is appetite for people to get out and enjoy live performance again and that’s great news for our industry but also the other sectors and businesses that are impacted by our closure,” said Kotzas.

“These challenging times have highlighted the important and unifying role that art plays in our lives and we’re grateful to the Queensland Government for acknowledging this through their funding of this program.”

Queensland’s Own will begin with Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Reel Classics on 27 September, featuring classical music from the movies, conducted by Dane Lam. This will be followed on 16 – 17 October by QSO’s Beethoven 5 concert, with Conductor Laureate Johannes Fritzsch on the podium.

Opera Queensland – which has been presenting a digital program called An Aria A Day since COVID-19 restrictions began – will return to the stage on 23 – 24 October with ENCORE, a collection of popular arias, duets and ensemble pieces performed by Shaun Brown, Andrew Collis, Eva Kong, Rosario La Spina, Virgilio Marino, Milijana Nikolic and OQ’s 2020 Young Artist Rebecca Cassidy.

Christen O’Leary and Jayden Popik will perform in Mouthpiece for Queensland Theatre. Photograph suppled

Queensland Theatre will present the Queensland premiere of Mouthpiece by Kieran Hurley, an award-winning writer, performer and theatre maker based in Glasgow. The provocative two-hander – which was performed at the 2020 Adelaide Festival – explores the relationship between Libby, a middle-aged, middle-class playwright who has been roundly rejected by London’s artistic establishment, and Declan, a 17-year old from a deprived Edinburgh housing estate who is used to violence and disappointment but who has a remarkable artistic talent. Libby decides his story must be told – but is it her story to tell?

Lee Lewis directs Christen O’Leary and Jayden Popik in the play, which runs at QPAC from 31 October – 14 November.

After a sold-out season at Lights On at the Powerhouse – a program which was supported by the Queensland Government’s venue pilot program to trial COVID-safe venue reopenings – Queensland Ballet will continue its 60th anniversary celebrations by presenting 60 Dancers: 60 Stories from 10 – 12 December. It features a collection of short ballets created by its own dancers in isolation around the theme of love, which were first presented online.

Queensland’s Own will conclude with two productions from award-winning contemporary circus ensemble Circa. Humans, which was created by Circa Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz, features 10 acrobats on a bare stage who take audiences on a stirring journey of what it means to be human. First staged in 2017, the production has received five-star reviews, and plays at QPAC from 18 – 22 November. This will be followed by the popular family production Carnival of the Animals from Circa and QPAC’s Out of the Box, which will play from 16 December.

Queensland Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said a Government investment of $350,000 would enable the state arts companies to return to the QPAC stages, and reinforced Queensland’s plan for economic recovery.

“This investment is part of the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package and means these companies will perform once again on the QPAC stage, showcasing their incredible talents,” Minister Enoch said.

“This is a fantastic outcome for Queensland audiences who can once again connect with live performances from our leading arts companies.”

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