‘Class Act’ and ‘Silence’ make their Sydney premieres in new UnWrapped Season

'SILENCE' by Karul Projects. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti.
'SILENCE' by Karul Projects. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti.

This May, the Sydney Opera House’s UnWrapped series presents two new Australian works by critically acclaimed independent artists Mish Grigor and Thomas E.S. Kelly and collaborators. Making their Sydney premieres in two short seasons, Class Act (1 – 4 May) from Melbourne’s experimental APHIDS and SILENCE (8 – 11 May) from groundbreaking First Nations dance company Karul Projects will interrogate rifts in contemporary Australian culture. Grigor and Kelly share their unique perspectives on contemporary Australia, inviting audiences into a fresh conversation about big ideas.

Challenging our class system and the performative nature of social mobility, Class Act is a comical theatre show created by writer, performer and co-director of Melbourne’s APHIDS, Mish Grigor. It is a tongue-in-cheek deconstruction of the classic tale My Fair Lady from the point of view of a self-proclaimed bogan. Combining a humorous recounting of the beloved story of Eliza Dolittle with personal anecdotes, Grigor pokes fun at the class system in Australia, reflecting on these unspoken divisions and the power they hold over us.

Grigor said, “Class Act starts with a classic rags to riches tale from the mother country, and then quickly devolves into a sharp and silly questioning about the myth of Australia as a classless society. APHIDS is thrilled to present the work at the iconic Sydney Opera House, a venue that rose to prominence in my primary school’s 1994 art competition, when I made a sculpture in its likeness using only paddlepop sticks and UHU glue. I was awarded fourth prize (no trophy).” 

Led by proud Minjungbal-Yugambeh, Wiradjuri and Ni-Vanuatu man Thomas E.S. Kelly as director, choreographer, writer and performer, SILENCE interrogates Australia’s ongoing conversations around sovereignty and the silence of inaction. Premiering at Brisbane Festival in 2020, and returning now from an extensive national tour, SILENCE challenges Australia as a nation that does not formally recognise its sovereign people in a Treaty. As a powerful multi-disciplinary work, it uses elements of both contemporary and cultural dance, with perfectly balanced moments of comedy, theatre and music.

Kelly said, “SILENCE embodies my motto of remembering the past to better understand the present and to move forward into the future. So often the conversation surrounding Treaty and land rights is swept under the rug, but through SILENCE, we pull these unresolved conversations back on the table. Thrilled to be bringing this to the Sydney Opera House’s audience, inviting them to witness and participate in this urgent contemporary ceremony.” 

This series of UnWrapped has been co-curated by Sydney Opera House’s Director of Programming Fiona Winning and Head of First Nations Programming Michael Hutchings.

UnWrapped 2024 will be presented 1 – 4 May (Class Act) and 8 – 11 May (SILENCE) at Sydney Opera House. For tickets and more information, visit www.sydneyoperahouse.com/unwrapped.  

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