Sat, Jul 2


Brisbane Festival unveils a massive 2017 program

It’s the ultimate celebration of creativity and this year’s Brisbane Festival is more ambitious than ever before. During September you could find yourself voting to decide the direction of a theatre piece, blindfolded in a cinema while a child narrates a film or at a ‘90s masquerade-ball rock show.

After releasing a few teasers, Brisbane Festival has unveiled the full 2017 program and there are more than 60 events on the bill. That’s a lot to take in, so we have broken it down for you – starting with all the firsts happening this year. Of the 60 events, there are:

  • Five world premiere commissions
  • 11 Australian premieres
  • 25 Queensland premieres

From music to circus, theatre and free events, here’s what’s on in Brisbane over the festival.


Theatre is set to take on many guises across the city. Terror – a play that has become a global phenomenon – will see the audience choose their own adventure in a very democratic fashion. The show is about a pilot on trial for murder and the audience must vote on whether he is innocent or guilty, with the majority vote determining the ending.

Dead Puppet Society brings the drawings of Queensland artist Tim Sharp to life in Laser Beak Man. The show features more than 35 original puppets, animations and flying objects, as well as original music from Ball Park Music frontman Sam Cromack. The colourful extravaganza took four years to develop and is accompanied by a free art exhibition 

Experience the awkwardness of a first date without being in the hot seat – or will you? Each night Onstage Dating will see Bron Batten go on a first date live on stage with a volunteer from the audience. Her performances are directly inspired by her experience of going on more than 50 online dates while in Paris, London and Lithuania.

Are you the type to forgive and forget? I Just Came to Say Goodbye explores the theme of forgiveness in a show that shares stories of guilt, grudges, remorse and revenge. All of the stories are real and based on anonymous apologies.


It’s been 20 years since the release of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. If that little stat makes you feel old, don’t worry because you’ll feel anything but at Young Hearts Run Free. It’s a ‘90s masquerade-ball rock show (dressing up is encouraged) that brings the full soundtrack to life and wraps up with an after party performance by Electric Fields.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra is making two appearances over the festival. The orchestra, conducted by John Foreman, will join Megan Washington on stage to celebrate her new album. Then they’ll be led by Singapore’s lively conductor Darrell Ang, for a double bill of romantic works based on the journeys of two of Byron’s wandering heroes, Harold and Manfred.

The centrepiece of the live music program this year is a mini festival at Riverstage, to be headlined by Britain’s London Grammar. Other music performances include Starman, a tribute to David Bowie, and gigs by The Preatures, Thelma Plum and British grime star AJ Tracey.


Circus is one of the most anticipated aspects of the festival program and once again there’s plenty in store. The team who brought us La Verita returns with Per Te – a visual ode to the power of friendship.

The creators of Blanc de Blanc are it again with the dizzying, pastel-hued antics of Fun House (pictured). Daring acrobatics will take place in a gigantic grown-up playground that you are invited to explore (and just like when you were younger, there are no shoes allowed on the jumping castle).

Things are bound to get seductive at the brazen, cabaret-infused circus production of Limbo Unhinged. This performance takes the popular 2014 show Limbo a step further, with edge-of-you-seat acts and live music performances that take place in a wildly hypnotic setting.


There’s no script for Blind Cinema ­– a unique film experience happening at GOMA. As you sit in the cinema, you are blindfolded. Then as the action starts, a child describes the film to you, which they are also experiencing for the first time.

Free events

As well as Riverfire, there are a number of ways to get among the festival without opening your wallet.

Around South Bank and Brisbane International Airport, a striking series of 40-feet humanoids will form the light installation, Fantastic Planet, which is named after a 1973 Czech/French animated science fiction film.

Art from the Margins celebrates its tenth anniversary at the festival, presenting an exhibition of works from artists who face adversity in varying forms. See works that showcase resilience, courage and creativity at this free exhibition.

Tuesday lunchtimes will get exciting over September, with the free weekly series of Lord Mayor’s City Hall Concerts. The line-up includes cabaret, musical theatre and live jazz.

9–30 September
Various locations
View all events