RISING is here! Over the next 12 nights from today (Wednesday 7 June), the city will surge into life, with music, food, art and culture under moonlight, as RISING unleashes its expansive program of 185 events featuring more than 800 artists, including 35 commissions and 12 world premieres.
A festival you do in the city that does it best, the 2023 program showcases powerful theatre, exhilarating dance, music that traverses the globe, large-scale installations, public performances, free and low-cost experiences, and outdoor works of mass participation that invite audiences to rave and revel in Melbourne’s night-time buzz.
Activating the city and taking our iconic spaces as its stage, RISING brings the best premier art and performance from around the world and across Australia to the CBD.
“It’s been amazing watching the festival being built across the city over the last couple of weeks – inside our train station, cathedral, theatres, river banks and hidden spaces – artists from all over the world have been busy making and rehearsing their work in anticipation of opening the doors this week” said RISING Co-Artistic Directors Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek.
“RISING is a major event that is equal parts mass celebration and deep, thoughtful work – it’s an event that is not only of Melbourne – it has something to say about the place,” they said.
“RISING gives Melbourne a reason to look forward to Winter. This festival doesn’t shy away from cold weather – it beckons us to find new ways to experience our city,” said Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp.
“The program delights and inspires – from the oddity of 10,000 Kazoos in Federation Square, to the glittering joy of Daan Roosegaard’s SPARK, and the celebration of First Nations people through Shadow Spirit inside the magical Flinders Street Station Ballroom.”
“The City of Melbourne is proud to be a part of RISING through hosting Euphoria at Town Hall, and supporting The Rink through our $5 million City Revitalisation Event Support Program with the State Government,” said the Lord Mayor.
At the festival’s centre is Shadow Spirit – the largest commissioned exhibition of contemporary First Peoples art in Victoria’s history that will take over Flinders Street Station’s historic upper level and hidden ballroom.
Thirty of the most exciting First Peoples artists and collectives from across Australia invite visitors to traverse time and Ancestral spirit worlds, reflect on the shadows of Australia’s history and be immersed in deep systems of knowledge.
The grounds of St Paul’s Cathedral become a meeting place for song, dance, deliciousness and the uncanny for Night Trade presented by Up – the vibrant festival hub where audiences can gather, get fed, plan their next move, or get lost in the slipstream of curated chaos.
Featuring DJs sets from a rotating line-up of party-starters including Wax’o Paradiso, pop up performances, drinks, BBQ, a giant negroni tank, and a reality-breaking puppet bus from twin brother Puerto Rican arts duo Poncili Creación.
Next door, Atis Rezistans (Resistance Artists) occupy Chapter House with a metamorphic celebration of Haitian street culture, Ghetto Biennale. While inside the Cathedral itself, Anthem, the towering sound and video collaboration between artist Wu-Tsang and New Age pioneer Beverly Glenn-Copeland, comes to RISING direct from the Guggenheim.
A new winter ice-skating tradition for Melbourne, The Rink at RISING, takes over Birrarung Marr, inviting audiences to slice up the ice riverside under a deep constellation of lights and against the backdrop of the city’s glistening skyline. The Rink will also host free and low-cost family activities right through the July school holidays for extended wintry fun.
10,000 Kazoos will descend on Federation Square in a city-sized pied piper of absurdity, open to anyone and led by artist and composer Ciaran Frame. And across the first four nights of the festival Dutch artist Daan Roosegaard’s SPARK will see a celestial cloud of lights floating like fireflies above the Fed Square’s forecourt.
Euphoria – a festival exclusive from Berlin-based master artist and filmmaker Julian Rosefeldt, and featuring Cate Blanchett, transforms Melbourne Town Hall into an arena swallowed by screens.
In dance highlights, Daniel Riley’s first show as Artistic Director of Australian Dance Theatre, Tracker tells the powerful story of Alec Riley, the Wiradjuri Elder and skilled tracker; Australian Ballet’s Identity offers an ambitious and unique take on the meaning of identity and the idea of community by two of Australia’s leading dance makers, Daniel Riley in his second RISING production, and Alice Topp; while Florentina Holzinger, hailed as Berlin’s “Tarantino of dance” defies genre and smashes gender clichés with TANZ.
With powerful performance pieces across the program, Consort of the Moon transforms a haunting, ancient melody into an elemental communal experience; The Dan Daw Show explores intimacy, resilience, letting go, and reclaiming yourself; and Hide The Dog is a swashbuckling First Nations comedy for all ages.
Robyn Archer: An Australian Songbook takes audiences on a road trip through 150 years of alternative Australian song in a provocative celebration of the country’s musical history; Bungul brings the MSO together with live Yolnu dancers and songmen to present the stories, music and movement that inspired Dr G. Yunupinu’s seminal album Djarimirri; THIS is a brutally funny, raw, and unflinching response to the theme of infuriation; while Jacky sees Declan Furber Gillick bring his dynamic voice to the stage with a sharp, quick-witted play about family, community, work, and culture.
At the Capitol Theatre Oh Deer! burrows into pop culture’s most beloved stories and pulls the stuffing out of the orphan trope, while MASTERCLASS parodies the “great male artist” to uncover some difficult truths about privilege and power. Lastly, Oil Pressure Vibrator sees Geumhyung Jeong wield heavy machinery to break into the complexities of sexuality and desire and dig towards earth-moving self-pleasure.
RISING’s 2023 genre-bending contemporary music program takes over three iconic Melbourne venues, featuring innovative artists from around the world and leading-edge hometown talent. The Forum Theatre will host the main stage, with sought-after artists performing under the cerulean ceiling, while upstairs will host rare, intimate one-offs.
Program highlights include performances by Thundercat, The Damned, Madlib, Cornelius, Ruth Radelet, Uncle Kutcha Edwards, RVG, Ethel Cain, Ichiko Aoba, Paul Kelly, Loraine James, Desire Marea, and a closing night party at Max Watts programmed by international tastemakers NTS.
RISING takes place across Melbourne from Wednesday 7 June to Sunday 18 June 2023. For more information and full program, visit: www.rising.melbourne for details.
Images: Flinders Street Station – courtesy of RISING | Tiger Yaltangki – Yankunytjatjara with Jeremy Whiskey – Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara, ROCK N ROLL, 2023 – Installation view at Shadow Spirit – photo by Eugene Hyland | The Rink at RISING – photo by Shannyn Higgins | Robyn Archer – photo by Brett Boardman