Wed, Jan 24


What’s on in Brisbane during May

The weather might be cooling off, but there are no signs that Brisbanites are preparing for hibernation. In fact, the opposite is happening, with the city coming alive with theatre, festivals, comedy and exhibitions. Here’s what’s on in Brisbane this month.

Anywhere Theatre Festival

Anywhere Theatre Festival begs the question: can live performance be enriched by taking it out of the theatre? Now in its largest iteration yet, this year’s festival will continue to test this theory through more than 700 performances that range from comedy to interactive theatre and live music. See our list of highlights for a curation of the most anticipated shows.

4–21 May at Various Locations

Briefs: Close Encounters

The Briefs boys are back for a third instalment of their hilarious fusion of circus, drag, burlesque and comedy. Pushing the boundaries of their masculinity wherever possible, they will showcase new tricks together with their signature brand of fabulous frivolity.

4–7 May at Brisbane Powerhouse

Blue Bones

Based on a true story, Blue Bones is a poignant piece of theatre performed by Merlynn Tong. It is set in Singapore, where a woman finally begins her process of self-discovery, reflecting on a failed teenage romance. As she unpacks her past, she recalls memories of romance, violence and courage.

4–13 May at Brisbane Powerhouse

Swan Lake

This month Queensland Ballet will perform Swan Lake – one of the most enduring ballets of all time and the centerpiece of its 2017 program. This is the first time the company has performed the classic ballet under Li Cunxin and chorographer Ben Stevenson has pieced together a traditional production with exquisite dancing, beautiful costumes and spectacular sets.

5–13 May at QPAC

Freedom Then, Freedom Now

Freedom, it’s the ultimate human right and the inspiration for SLQ’s latest exhibition, Freedom Then, Freedom Now. Assembled from the library’s archives, the exhibition looks at the freedoms we have been granted and those that have been restricted within Queensland, and in doing so explores the tension between individual rights and the common good. Themes include censorship, marriage, citizenship, dress and travel.

5 May to 1 October at State Library of Queensland

Avenue Q

Avenue Q has proved to be such a popular production that Brisbane Arts Theatre is bringing it back for the fourth and possibly final time. The Tony Award-winning musical is from the makers of The Book of Mormon and even though it features fluffy puppets, this politically incorrect show is not one for the kids. It explores themes of unemployment, relationships and addiction through the lens of Princeton – a broke college graduate who moves in to an apartment on Avenue Q where he meets an array of colourful tenants.

6–27 May at Brisbane Arts Theatre

Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow

If a month of comedy in February just wasn’t enough, then you now have the Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow to look forward to. This year’s travelling line-up of funny folk includes Dave Callan, Carl Donnelly, Andy Saunders, Daniel Fernandes and Sharul Channa, who will sling jokes, serenade the audience and perform sketches.

10–13 May at Brisbane Powerhouse

The Village

The Village celebrates Australia’s multiculturalism in a heartfelt series of stories of refugees and asylum seekers. It has been produced in collaboration with MDA (a refugee resettlement agency), allowing these stories to be shared first hand in a compelling and interactive performance. The show will allow you to hear from ordinary people who found themselves in extraordinary situations.

15–26 May at La Boite

American Essentials Film Festival

Those who follow the international film circuit will have a chance to catch a number of Australian premieres during the American Essentials Film Festival. Many of the films in the program were highlights at the last Toronto, Venice, Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam and SXSW festivals. Highlights include opening night film 20th Century Women as well as the documentary David Lynch: The Art of Life, Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut American Pastoral and Postcards from the Edge, which is based on Carrie Fisher’s autobiography.

17–28 May at Palace Centro

Behind Closed Doors

Natalie Weir’s latest work takes you behind the closed doors of a hotel, offering a glimpse into the lives of its late-night guests and staff. With moments of darkness and beauty, the sultry performance of Behind Closed Doors is a snapshot of the complexities of human nature, set to live jazz music.

19­–27 May at QPAC


Each year tens of thousands of people descend upon West End for Paniyiri – a community festival celebrating Greek culture. Food is a centrepiece of this annual gathering and this year will be no different, but there are other highlights including dance performances, chef presentations and live music.

20–21 May at Musgrave Park

Lady Beatle

The Beatles may be one of the world’s most famous bands, but there are still tales to be discovered. In Lady Beatle (pictured), stories of the women who inspired the band’s biggest hits are woven into a vibrant soundtrack of The Beatles most memorable songs. This live music production comes from the producers of Rumour Has It and Wrecking Ball.

25 May to 3 June at La Boite

The Pearlfishers

For the first time in 15 years, OperaQ presents the drama and exoticism of Bizet’s The Pearlfishers. Set in colonial Ceylon, it tells the story of two old friends who once loved the same woman. And when said woman reappears, their friendship will be tested by the temptation of love. The romantic opera is set against vibrant backdrops and incorporates a stunning score.

25 May to 3 June at QPAC

Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe

GOMA is preparing to unveil the largest Marvel exhibition ever presented in an art gallery. This exhibition is the first time Australian audiences can get up close with more than 500 pieces including Thor's hammer, Captain America's shield and Iron Man's armour. More broadly, Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe examines the storytelling artistry of Marvel and its interconnected films.

27 May to 3 September at GOMA

Want more? You can read the May What’s On Guide online now.

Fri, 23 Junesee all

Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum

In an Australian exclusive, the international blockbuster exhibition Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum will only be appearing at Queensland Museum

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Fri, 14 Julysee all

Eternal Present

These diverse, intelligent paintings add a new chapter to the history of the genre in Australia

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Fri, 1 Septembersee all

Queensland Symphony Orchestra 2018 Season

Queensland Symphony Orchestra has unveiled an extraordinary Season 2018

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Sun, 1 Octobersee all

Musica Viva International Concert Season 2018

Discover the dazzling beauty of classical music performed by the very best international artists in 2018

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Sat, 14 Octobersee all

Gerhard Richter | The Life of Images

Exclusive to Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art, ‘Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images’ is the German artist’s first major Australian exhibition

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Sat, 4 Novembersee all

Yayoi Kusama Life is the Heart of a Rainbow

A focused survey of Kusama's vast body of work since the 1950s, 'Life is the Heart of a Rainbow' explores her key motifs, her engagement with the body, and her conception of spa...

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Fri, 1 Decembersee all

Expressions Dance Company Season 2018

Expressions Dance Company has unveiled its 2018 season with a year of bold international and Australian collaborations to inspire and delight!

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Fri, 1 Decembersee all

Mao's Last Dancer the Exhibition:A Portrait of Li Cunxin

Discover one man’s incredible journey from poverty to world-famous artist in this exclusive Museum of Brisbane exhibition.

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Fri, 1 Decembersee all

The Kite Wishes Project

Visit Museum of Brisbane during Mao’s Last Dancer the exhibition and design your own kite or be inspired by the koinbori fish template created by Brisbane artist Elysha Rei

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Sat, 9 Decembersee all

Magnificent Makers

Explore Queensland’s unique history of innovation in State Library of Queensland’s upcoming exhibition, Magnificent Makers.

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