Performing Arts


Balletomanes will love this book . It is intimately , warmly written .It is divided into twenty five chapters with a Forward , Introduction , Conclusion, Author’s Note , a glossary of ballet terms , end notes and an index .Photos are spaced in three sections throughout the book. It is co written with Sarah Crompton , one of Britain’s most respected writers and broadcasters.

This compelling book considers Benjamin’s life from 1964 and her first dance classes at the age of three, to 2020 when it was completed . Like Mary McKendry (now Mary Li , married to Li Cunxin of the Queensland Ballet) and Sydney Dance alumni Nina Veretkinova , Leanne Benjamin comes from Rockhampton in Queensland . Her hard working Catholic family has a close, loving relationship with supportive parents . At 16, she followed her sister Madonna and was accepted into The Royal Ballet School in London, then at 18 danced her first leading role on the Royal Opera House stage in the school’s performance of Giselle that catapulted her to an outstanding international career, being appointed a Principal ballerina at the age of 22 after her debut in Swan Lake,.She jet setted across the world ( remember this is before Covid hit) – Europe, the UK, America and Australia .The main companies she belonged to however were what are now known as the Birmingham Royal Ballet , the English National Ballet and the Royal Ballet itself.

BUILT FOR BALLET takes the reader backstage in an attempt to convey a thorough comprehension of the gruelling hard work, fierce passion and commitment, the pain, delights and sometimes disasters that can strew a dancers’ career and from Benjamin’s point of view, how ballet has grown and adjusted. Continue reading BUILT FOR BALLET BY LEANNE BENJAMIN AND SARAH CROMPTON


Due to the uncertainty of lockdowns and a possible surge in Covid19 deaths, Mardi Gras Chief Executive Albert Kruger has announced that the Mardi Gras will once again be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground. There will be no floats but many opportunities will be available to highlight the creativity and flair of the LGBTI community. 

The Oxford Street Parade fostered a sense of inclusivity with thousands of families taking what was once an event of moral disapproval, to their hearts. 

As this will be a ticketed event inevitably some of that community enthusiasm will be lost.

Nevertheless, as are all Mardi Gras parades and happenings, this will be an eye popping festival for the viewers and spectators who will attend. 

Ben Apfelbaum



The New South Wales Government has announced that it will provide a $75 million stimulus package for the performing arts and live music sector.

The package will be delivered in two stages:- Immediate support to provide relief to eligible organisations who are staging performances during the period covered by the Public Health Orders, and funding is to be made available to support eligible organisations to reschedule performances once it is safe for restrictions to ease. 

The package is intended to assist performing arts organisations and  live music venues to continue paying staff and performers, and  provide support for loss of box office venue where shows were shut down by the Public Health Orders.

This will be especially vital, as for the time being, live performance venues will be operating at 75% capacity.

The two images are  from the show ‘Come From Away’ which has only just started playing to current Public Health Orders in Sydney after the long lockdown.

Ben Apfelbaum


Sky Queenz

On Thursday 28 October, Darlinghurst Theatre Company will fling open its doors and invite audiences back to its home at the Eternity Playhouse. Building on what has become a company tradition, Artistic Director Amylia Harris has assembled another jam-packed lineup for what she is calling a Fling Festival. “We’re all desperate to break up with lockdown and enjoy some non-committal spring fun,” she says. “Our community needs to find joy, but on its own terms. Everyone’s been told what to do for so long and now it’s time to curate our own post-lockdown experience. You be you!”jhA

Harris is reactivating the theatre space and transforming the Eternity Playhouse into a scalable cultural hub that combines live entertainment with indoor and outdoor dining in a truly immersive experience. “Right now, our kitchen is putting the finishing touches to our new Darlo Bites menu,” she says. “We’ll be serving mouth-watering cheese and charcuterie boards for both indoor and alfresco dining under the umbrellas along our theatre’s beautiful street frontage.” A delicious range of bespoke cocktails has also been prepared, including the aptly named Spring Fling.

Thirsty Thursdays is back by popular demand, bringing the New York piano bar vibe to the heart of Darlo. Curated by Andrew Bukenya, weekly guests will be handpicked from the crème de la crème of musical theatre and cabaret, adding razzle dazzle to these open mic nights. Musical theatre icon Margi de Ferranti opens the season on 28 October with Bev Kennedy on piano.  Continue reading DARLO UNVEILS SPRING FESTIVAL PROGRAM


For a full month Actors Benevolent Fund of NSW will ask theatre lovers around the state  to donate to help sustain members of the performing arts community. These vital funds  have never been more important in helping the performing arts to survive. 

Over the last 18 months Actors Benevolent Fund of NSW has played an essential role in  keeping our performing arts and artists safe. With the help of donations we have been  able to meet hundreds of requests for urgent help. ABF has paid medical, dental and  mental health costs, household bills, registration of cars, assisted with rent and mortgage  payments, covered emergency accommodation expenses and provided food vouchers to  ensure that families and individuals have food on the table.  

The demand has been huge and will continue for many months to come. We need help  to keep this level of support available until our industry is back on its feet. Without  donations to top up our buckets we cannot do this. 

Once again all our theatres are closed, not just in Sydney but in every part of the state,  throwing countless numbers of actors and entertainers, dancers, directors, writers and  designers, technicians and venue staff out of work.  Continue reading ACTOBER : HELPING THE INDUSTRY THROUGH THE CURRENT CRISIS


Lucy Heffernan as Fairy Sprinkles

A fun midweek, online, lockdown edition of our multi-artform  performance night!  MERRIGONGX is bringing exciting, local, independent artists into audience’s homes on Wednesday  22 September at 7.30pm with an online showcase of their latest creative endeavors.  

This multi-artform performance night offers artists space and support to test new ideas, and is a  great way for the community to connect and support artists. The event will showcase 1.5 hrs of  new works from local artists across performance, stand-up comedy, script readings, music, dance  and anything in between. 

MC drag queen Space Horse will host the online line-up: 

 Writer and maker David Molloy presents an excerpt from his radical new play Farewell To  Arms: A Lovecraftian Sex Romp. This reading will give you a glimpse into David’s riotous,  taboo-busting horror comedy with a sex-positive twist.   Continue reading MERRIGONGX PRESENTS MADE FROM SCRATCH : MULTI ARTFORM PERFORMANCES


Saksham Sharma

Teenage Aussie international magician Saksham is set to get the internet buzzing again with a special live, online Christmas show. 

The charismatic 18-year-old Sydney-sider has built a huge following here and overseas including 700,000 TikTok followers (with 100 million views for one video alone!) and almost 15 million Facebook and YouTube views for his appearance on Australia’s Got Talent

His Saturday 19 December 5pm online magic show is a combination of great illusions plus comedy and dance.  Continue reading SAKSHAM MAGICAL MADNESS (A ZOOM SHOW)


BLOOM Festival

An Everyday Festival of Gaiety, Cabaret and Art.

Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s BLOOM Festival has transformed the Eternity Playhouse into a vibrant cultural hub for the summer, with live music, delicious dining, and a diverse offering of performances in our new cabaret space and theatre auditorium.

The festival is a coming together of artist and audience to discover the potential of what art and performance can be in this moment.

“If it’s light-hearted frivolity you need right now, we’ve got you. If you’d like to join the conversation and hold space for others, we’ve got that too. There is no right or wrong way to come out of a pandemic.” says Amylia Harris, our Co-Artistic Director and Creative Producer. Experience it your way.

Featured image: Dyan Tai at our Resurrection Ball. Pic Robert Catto




This is the Australian premiere of this work, brought to us from Israel as part of Week 2 of the Sydney Fringe and is presented as part of Global Fringe Gala Week 2 The work won several awards at the Acco Festival in Israel last year, where it was filmed .

Created and performed by Mica Kupfer, with Meshi Olink, Ben Kobi and musician Yaniv Hayoun it examines control and power and questions the blurred boundaries of concrete and abstract, dismantling and construction and asks what is real?

For Australian viewers it has similarities to Tanja Lietdke’s ‘Construct’ – the dancers are at times sculptural, are manipulated and become like pieces of board or wood. Choreographically it also has allusions to Butoh and the circus with the use of stilts.

Short , sharp angular movements are used at times .There is also precise synchronised movement , lots of angular arms and a marching ‘Ministry of Silly Walks ‘ segment as well as twirling a large standing microphone like a baton.

The performers are required to be almost impossibly flexible in some sections. Balance is also important – at one point one of the performers bends over and a board with many tools/blocks of wood is positioned on her back by the other two and teeters precariously.

The set design consists of moveable plinths and boards / boxes that get shifted around giving a very flexible space.

Lighting and sound are very important – breath and heartbeat at times are magnified by the various microphones used by the performers and the contrast between silence or stamping rhythms and the electric guitar is very important.

The wonderful texture of the high brick archway is focused on at one point. There is a large LED clock that runs the whole time and also a TV monitor with a beeping heartbeat measurement line.

The performers mostly wear black casual wear and are barefoot but one strips down and changes to a white floral top with matching socks at one point. The show includes partial nudity.

Visually, two segments in particular are striking – there is the recreation of Michaelangelo’s ‘God with Adam’ from the Sistine Chapel , and the Pieta/Crucifixion scene where one of the performers is nailed to a board after hugging the other two goodbye. This then turns into what could either be an exhibit in a museum , or a crime scene.

‘By Virtue of the Same Movement’ as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival streamed September 10-13

Running time just under an hour
• Creator – Mica Kupfer
• Performers – Meshi Olink, Ben Kobi, Mica Kupfer
• Music and Sound – Yaniv Hayoun
• Construction Planning and Building – Elad æladin Kalai


Michael Cassel Group, one of the world’s leading theatre producers, has today announced it has accepted a strategic investment from Amplify, a global live entertainment and content holding company.

Michael Cassel Group, as an independent company, will sit alongside TEG in Amplify, which was formed by Silver Lake and minority investor Mercury Capital to acquire TEG in November 2019. TEG is a global, integrated live entertainment, ticketing and technology company and Silver Lake is the global leader in technology investing. Continue reading SILVER LAKE ACQUIRES STAKE IN AUSTRALIAN THEATRE PRODUCER


‘Umti’ by Nick Cave at Carriageworks

The future of Australia’s largest multi-arts precinct has been secured thanks to extraordinary support from a group of benefactors and commitment to providing a 10 + 5 + 5 year  precinct lease and 5 year funding from the NSW Government, the Carriageworks Board of Directors announced today.

Following a ten-week Voluntary Administration process conducted by KPMG Partners, Phil Quinlan and Morgan Kelly, the 2nd Meeting of Creditors overwhelmingly accepted the Deed of Company Arrangement proposed and negotiated by Carriageworks’ Board of Directors.

Motivated by the crisis and the importance of an independent Carriageworks to the cultural fabric of NSW, a small number private foundations pledged major gifts to ensure artists and audiences continue to have access to the sense of community history and the unique creative environment of the Carriageworks precinct. Continue reading CARRIAGEWORKS SUCCESSFULLY SECURES INDEPENDENT FUTURE


Darwin Festival returns as Australia’s hottest winter arts festival with DF20 Homegrown (Thursday 6 — Sunday 16 August). A reimagined event showcasing the Top End’s very best, this year’s Festival program is brimming with exciting live and online events sure to help you re-enter the world in style!

The festivities kick off in Festival Park on Thursday 6 August with an opening night concert, Housewarming supported by Santos, launching attendees into a fabulous weekend of digital and physical offerings. The free celebration will feature a stellar line-up of local talent, including a performance from Gary Lang’s celebrated NT Dance Company, and musicians Eric AveryMandy Garling and Hotel Red, and more. Capacity is limited, so come along early to secure a spot and enjoy a range of food and drink available onsite.

National audiences will be able to get in on the fun with the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and the National Indigenous Music Awards — both going virtual for the very first time, as well as award ceremonies for the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (Telstra NATSIAA) and the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards, also available online. Continue reading DARWIN FESTIVAL UNVEILS DF20 HOMEGROWN PROGRAM


The NSW Government has announced a $50 million Rescue and Restart package for NSW arts and cultural organisations to ensure the sector continues to make an important contribution to the NSW economy during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said this funding was the largest dedicated arts and cultural support package of any jurisdiction in Australia.



Australia’s arts sector will get access to $250 million worth of grants and loans under a COVID-19 recovery package unveiled by the Federal Government.

The creative sector has been calling for more support after the coronavirus shut down venues and productions and led to widespread job losses, with many workers ineligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the grants and loans would help the entertainment, arts and screen sectors to re-build over the next 12 months.

“This package is as much about supporting the tradies who build stage sets or computer specialists who create the latest special effects, as it is about supporting actors and performers in major productions,” he said.

“Many in the sector will find a new way to operate while the current social distancing measures remain in place and while that won’t be easy, I know there’s a strong desire among all Australians to see the return of gigs, performances and events.”

The package includes:

  • $75 million for a competitive grants program to provide capital for new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease. Grants will range from $75,000 to $2 million
  • $90 million in concessional loans to help fund new productions. Loans will be delivered through commercial banks with a Commonwealth guarantee
  • $50 million to help film and television producers who have been unable to access insurance due to COVID-19 to secure finance and restart production
  • $35 million in direct financial assistance for Commonwealth-funded organisations which are struggling to stay viable, including theatre, dance, music and circus

Mr Morrison said as well as the issues around financial help, the sector was struggling with the uncertainty around when restrictions in each state and territory, as well as border closures, would lift.

“That’s why, again, I’ll be raising this with the premiers and chief ministers, being able to tell [artists] when they can fill a venue, when that can happen or how many,” he said.






Next week would have marked the start of this year’s Sydney Eisteddfod Festival which has been inspiring and engaging with Australia’s young performers with its annual Festival for over 86 years.

Cancelled this year due to the coronavirus crisis, this not-for-profit organisation has rolled up its sleeves to ensure they continue to provide opportunities to the great array of talent across dance, drama, poetry, classical & contemporary music.

Keeping on all their staff, albeit from home, the Sydney Eisteddfod Team have launched two campaigns to re-engage and stay connected with their community during this time. Continue reading SYDNEY EISTEDDFOD : KEEPING ARTISTS ENGAGED


James Cutler and Joshua Robson Productions are thrilled to announce a special and unique online concert which will shine a light on the Australian musical theatre industry and support performers whose livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 arts shutdown. LIGHTS UP ON THE ARTS [HOME DELIVERY] will be held on Monday 11 May from 7pm.

Over one incredible evening hosted by James Cutler (School of Rock), the concert will feature elite performances from the homes of Johanna Allen (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Michelle Brasier (Melbourne International Comedy Festival), Andrew Cook (A Chorus Line), Ryan Gonzalez (Merrily We Roll Along), Doug Hansell (Come From Away), Glenn Hill (A Chorus Line), Georgina Hopson (The Secret Garden), Loren Hunter (Six), Joe Kosky (School of Rock), Andrew Kroenert (School of Rock), Lucy Maunder (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Todd McKenney (Shrek), Ben Mingay (Shrek), Cle Morgan (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Sarah Murr (Shrek), John O’Hara (School of Rock), Monique Salle (Shrek), Jamie Rogers (Billy Elliot), Justin Smith (Billy Elliot), Alana Tranter (Come From Away), Lyndon Watts (A Chorus Line), Chloe Zuel (Six) and more. Continue reading LIGHTS UP ON THE ARTS [HOME DELIVERY]


The Australian. arts sector is almost completely demoralised and disheartened by the announcement of the $5.4 million in Australia Council grants which represent a 30% cut over the next twelve months.

Major arts companies are set to lose ongoing funding include major organisations like the Art Gallery Of South Australia, the Australian Theatre for Young People, of which Nicole Kidman, Baz Luhrmann and Rebel Wilson are alumni, Barking Gecko Theatre Company , Ensemble Offspring, La Mama Theatre, Sydney’s Writer’s Festival and the Museum Of Contemporary Art. Continue reading AUSTRALIA COUNCIL FUNDING CUTS DEVASTATE ARTS SECTOR


Several of Australia’s leading actors have, in a plea to the Government spoken out about the hardships the arts sector is suffering under the #CreateAustralia’s Future. These include John Bell, Mitchell Butel, Rachael Maza, Richard Roxburgh, Sally Smart and Julia Zemiro.  It is expected that thousands of others will join them.

Television host and Artistic Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival Julia Zemiro stated that “if you love TV, Music, Film, Art  gigs you have to love the people who make it happen for you….We are a team that brings you the stuff that makes you laugh, cry, sing, dance and forget. So remember us now.” Continue reading AUSTRALIAN ARTISTS PLEA FOR THE STRUGGLING ARTS SECTOR


Live Performance Australia (LPA) has today announced with deep regret the annual Helpmann Awards will not be presented in 2020.

The decision to cancel this year’s presentation is in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and its impact on live performance venues and productions across the country.

“Due to restrictions on public gatherings, it was simply not feasible to proceed with our planning for the 2020 Helpmann Awards,” said LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson.

“While we are deeply disappointed to make this decision, we have a wider responsibility to prioritise the health and welfare of our staff, industry and the Australian community to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“It is also the case that we need to focus on the survival of our live performance industry which has been devastated by the COVID-19 forced shutdowns.

“Our number one priority right now is to secure more government support for the hundreds of thousands of people across our industry who have lost income and work as a result of the shutdowns.

]“We also want to make sure our industry is in the best position it can be to recover once the public health crisis passes, and bring back to millions of Australians the pleasure of live theatre and music presented by some of the world’s best creative talent,” Ms Richardson said.

The Helpmann Awards are the premier celebration of Australia’s vibrant live performance industryThese national awards recognise distinguished achievement and excellence in Australia’s live performance sectors including musicals, contemporary music, comedy, opera and classical music, theatre, ballet, dance and physical theatre, presentation for children and young people, regional touring and cabaret.

The Helpmann Awards were established in 2001 by LPA.

Featured image : The cast of Les Mis at the 2016 Helpmann awards


The Sydney Opera House today announced a new digital initiative – From our House to yours – to connect with, inspire, educate and entertain local and global communities while the venue’s doors are temporarily closed to the public. The program will include full-length performances and talks, never-before-seen footage, podcasts, long-form articles and behind-the-scenes content.

In addition to a wide array of digital content available free on demand, every day from Wednesday to Sunday new content will be released on the Opera House website for people to enjoy on their laptops, mobile phones or in their living rooms. The new digital season launches tomorrow (Wednesday 1 April) at 6pm AEDT, with the next weekly schedule announced every Tuesday. Continue reading FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOUR HOUSE : HIGHLIGHTS TO ENJOY


What an extraordinary few weeks we’ve had!

Sally. Pic by Bill Crew

As individuals, organisations and as a society, how do we best move forward in world where so much has stopped or slowed almost to a standstill? I am particularly concerned for the arts community, its practitioners, technical experts and other professionals who have suddenly lost their livelihoods and reason for being. I am also concerned for our audiences, those who find nourishment, entertainment and enlightenment through the arts. My thoughts below are formulated not as some kind of universal panacea, but as principles to guide our everyday lives in the months to come.

Unprecedented times

Elysian Fields (Photo – Philip Pogson)

The times really are almost unprecedented. I suspect we have to go back to World War II (WWII) to find a parallel to the kind of national and international disruption, pain and suffering we are facing at the moment. Both my parents were born in 1931. Their early childhood years were thus at the tail end of the Great Depression. They entered their teens in the midst of a global war of awful violence and human misery. It was hard. There was rationing and the possibility of invasion. Brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers went off to war or were seconded to work in war industries. My dad is the youngest in his family and one of his brothers, my uncle, fought in the Pacific and survived. The point is, they came through as did the greater majority of Australians of that generation. We are their heirs. We will also come through and rebuild on the other side. Some reflections follow that I hope are encouraging.

Lead when and as we are able

Whatever our role and status, now is the time for us to exercise leadership in any way we are able. I don’t necessarily mean “Big L” Leadership: few of us will be called to be a Premier, Prime Minister or a CEO. I am referring to the leadership opportunities that come our way in everyday life. Over the next weeks and months we will need people right across our community who can acknowledge uncertainty but think clearly, respond with compassion and remain task focused. As a business advisor, company director and school Chair, I see teachers, business people, University staff, health experts, friends, artists and family acting this way already. On the flip side, these are stressful times. Our way of life has changed with a violent lurch and we are not sure where we are lurching to. For myself, I am working on being aware of, and not ignoring, my own anxiety and tiredness. I am also keeping up and expanding while I am able my exercise routines and making sure I have a list of things to do that I enjoy.

Avoid blame and finger pointing

Beyond a certain point, spending our energies pointing out what others are doing wrong, where they are acting inconsistently or not meeting our expectations is not productive. Leaving aside those in the health sector whose working lives have by their very nature changed in a moment, we should keep in mind that our Premier, senior ministers, business and community leaders and Prime Minister will be working extraordinarily long hours under exceptional pressure. These people are human and thus imperfect – just like us. They also have families and loved ones they will be hardly seeing and no doubt worrying about – just like us. Now is not the time to fight arguments on social media and relentlessly criticise others, particularly those with “Big L” leadership roles. Now is the time for our community to seek unity and goodwill and ensure that the majority of our citizens, including the poor and needy, come through this as best they can.

Look to and plan for the future

All Auras Touch

As I noted, WWII came to an end as did WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1919. Humankind is resilient and creative. We can choose to be our best in a crisis or choose the opposite.

The arts have a crucial role to play in our society, even when governments and others in authority do not recognise, or seek to minimise, our contribution. We must plan now to come through this, and out the other side, stronger and more resilient if and as we are able. Some will struggle. Some are struggling now. It should not be a matter of survival of the fittest, but of seeking to bring as many people and organisations through as possible. That should be our pledge to each other and to society at large.

Philip Pogson FAICD, Director, The Leading Partnership

Joint Managing Director The Marais Project, Elysian Fields and Da Vinci’s Apprentice


As the COVID-19 crisis continues to escalate in Australia and around the world, the Sydney Eisteddfod Board has made the decision to cancel this year’s competition. 

Sydney Eisteddfod, a not-for-profit Performing Arts Organisation which has offered an annual Festival of over 300 events across all genres of the performing arts since 1933, has made this decision to cancel for the second time during its 86-year history. The first being during WWII.    Continue reading SYDNEY EISTEDDFOD FESTIVAL 2020 CANCELLED


Each year, over 35,000 entrants from all across Australia and New Zealand enter the Sydney Eisteddfod to showcase their talents in over 300 events across dance, drama, music and song and compete to win over $400,000 annually in cash prizes and scholarships. These hopefuls from all levels from beginner to pre-professional are provided the opportunity to perform at world-class venues including Sydney Opera House and Chatswood’s, The Concourse, in front of judges who are at the forefront of their field.

This year, entrants have come in fast, however the organization has decided to give people an extended chance to enter, without penalty, until March 23.  Continue reading THE SHOW MUST GO ON : SYDNEY EISTEDDFOD