Sydney Festival 2020: must-see French and francophone shows!

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Sydney Festival 2020

Sydney Festival 2020 starts today and runs until 26 January. Among the shows programmed, there are a few with French and francophone links to see. Here they are!


Two Crews

8 – 12 January $39-$45

Image: Timothée Lejolivet

Lady Rocks, Parisian break group solely made up of  women dance in a battle against Australian company Riddim Nation in this show choreographed by Nick Power.


Whereas Lady Rocks specialises in combative and complex choreographed battles, Riddim Nation mixes Pacificka, African and Asian influences in its eclectic and cheeky style.


You can read our interview with Lady Rocks here.         



8 – 12 January $60-$70

Image: Yannick Grandmont

Fly Pan Am, Canadian electro-rock group will play live music for Canadian avant-garde choreographer Dana Gingras’s dance show with her dance troupe Animals of Distinction.


In Frontera, the question is explored as to in this world in which the human body is subject to more and more invasive surveillance and treatment, what space remains for the undisciplined, ungovernable body?


With synchronised and complex projections and lights by United Visual Artists (UVA), and live music by Fly Pan Am, 10 dancers explore ideas of inclusion and exclusion; their bodies are mapped in high resolution, their destinies unresolved.


Read our interview with Fly Pan Am here.


Forget Me Not

14 – 26 January $79

Image: Dahlia Katz

Ronnie Burkett, marionette master, returns to Sydney Festival, this time with his show Forget Me Not.


In Forget Me Not, you find yourself in the new now, a world where written words are forbidden and putting pen to paper is a powerful act of defiance. For those determined to compose or write a heartfelt declaration, there is one way, but it requires you to take a perilous journey to a secret camp to trouver “She, the guardian of the lost hand”, the last to retain the knowledge of reading and writing.


Absurd, romantic and provocative, Forget Me Not is a tender call to arms and a rich theatrical love letter to ourselves in these more and more uncivilised times.


We spoke to Ronnie Burkett back before his 2018 Sydney Festival performances. Read the interview here.


Romances Inciertos : un autre Orlando

21-26 January $60-$70

Image: Jose Caldeira

Inspired by Virigina Woolf’s Orlando, the Elizabethan courtier who changes sex and lives for more than 300 years, this opera-ballet show from François Chaignaud, choreographer, dancer, singer is a love letter to centuries of Spanish culture and an odyssey about a shape-shifting body which crosses centuries.


In this show, François Chaignaud and four musicians playing period instruments will traverse Spanish history from the Golden Age to the 21st century, in a theatrical mix of Baroque, cabaret, flamenco and gender play.


François Chaignaud gives life to three characters – luminaries from drama, poetry and Spanish folklore: Doncella Guerrera, who leaves for war dressed as a man, San Miguel, the ambiguous archangel from the poet Garcia Lorca and Tarara, free spirited dancer and Anadulsian Roma disappointed by love and who hides a secret androgyny.


Which shows are you seeing at Sydney Festival 2020?

Sydney Festival 2020



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Matilda Marseillaise turns 1 today!

Reading Time: 8 minutes

On 22 September 2017, Matilda Marseillaise was born. In the 12 months since her birth, she has taken you across Australia in research of all things French and francophone.

So in this article, we look back over her first year.


At the festival

Matilda Marseillaise has told you which shows you must see at arts festivals in all parts of Australia. She has written about MOFO in Tasmania, the festivals of WOMADelaide, Adelaide Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Sydney Fringe Festival and Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Matilda has also spoken to you about French festivals happening around the country like the Sunshine Coast French Festival, the Bastille Festival Sydney, the Bastille Festival Melbourne, Le Festival in Brisbane, Bonjour Barossa, the Adelaide French Festival and Shark Bay Rendezvous and So Frenchy So Chic – the festival which celebrates la joie de vivre française.



Linked to these festivals, Matilda Marseillaise has brought you interviews with musicians, a puppeteer, and theatre directors, among others. She has spoken with people both well-known as well as those not as well-known but equally interesting. She has interviewed francophones from across a diverse range of domains such as Paul Perrin from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Kiya Tabassian, founder and director of the ensemble, Constantinople, Dimitar Gugov from the group Violons Barbares from Canada, Melanie Walters who played “La Flute de Pan” at Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Canadian comedian Al LaFrance who spoke about his show “I think I’m Dead” and  Ronnie Burkett, Canadian puppeteer about his show “The Daisy Theatre” which played at Sydney Festival.


There were also an interviews about perfume with Samantha from The Powder Room who led Masterclasses on the subject at the Adelaide French Festival; the singer Abby Dobson from the group Baby et Lulu; Frédérique Cournoyer Lessard, the French aerial circus artist from Club Swizzle; Féfé who played at So Frenchy So Chic 2018. Matilda has also spoken with the principal ballerina from Ballet Preljocacj, a French ballet company, who was in Australia for their version of Snow White which played in Melbourne and in Sydney.

The evil Queen in Snow White – image by Jean Claude Carbonne


Eating and drinking

There have also been festivals all about food and drink offerings: Effervescence champagne festival , Moët Grand Day also on the subject; Masterclasses and other events from the Tasting Australia program and Good France, the worldwide French dinner.

At the movies

On a cultural note, she has spoken to you about French and francophone films at the Sydney Film Festival and at the Alliance Française French Film Festival. She has spoken to you about an Australian film about life in France “Life is a very strange thing”, and about a film starring Omar Sy: Two is a Family. She had the pleasure of sharing her experiences of watching the film “Les Triplettes de Belleville” with the sounds reproduced live with Benoît Charest and his Terrible Orchestre de Belleville.


There was a lot more than film soundtrack to entertain our ears over the last 12 months. Matilda was lucky enough to interview the renowned Youssou N’Dour, who came to Australia for a concert at the Sydney Opera House and also for BluesFest. She has listened to and spoken with Australian artists who play French or French inspired music: Mélange à Trois, Baby et Lulu, and the very original Coconut Kids who translated Australian classic pub songs into French for their Adelaide Fringe show “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui”. Well-known Australian singer Gotye presented a tribute to the Belgian Jean-Jacques Perrey at Sydney Festival. Caroline Nin took us on a trip to the Paris Lido with her show “Songs and Stories of the Paris Lido” that she performed at the Adelaide French Festival.

Youssou Ndour sitting on a step looking to camera


Francophone musicians from all around the world came for WOMADelaide, with Constantinople, the Violons Barbares and Lura among them.  Malian musicians Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba, played to a very enthusiastic crowd at the Sydney Festival.

Violons Barabares perform at WOMADelaide in March 2018. Image by Matilda Marseillaise


Matilda got to speak with French rapper Féfé while he was in Australia performing “showcases” to publicise So Frenchy So Chic 2018.


For a more theatrical kind of music, there was also Bizet’s opera “The Pearl Fishers” performed by the State Opera of South Australia.


Matilda was lucky enough to see Ballet Preljocacj’s production of “Snow White”, which played at the Sydney Opera House and in Melbourne. For a ballet with an even larger difference, crowds were treated to Gratte Ciel’s aerial ballet “Place des Anges” which covered WOMADelaide in tons of white feathers.


Let’s run away to the circus

Place des Anges, was a show of quasi ballet, quasi circus which leads nicely into other physical performances such as  “Club Swizzle” and the Cirque de Soleil’s arena spectacular “Toruk – The First Flight” inspired by James Cameron’s film “Avatar”. Matilda got to speak with francophone performers from these shows.


A night at the theatre

There was also theatre with Camus’ Caligula performed in English, “The Great War” a Dutch show based on letters from a French soldier in the trenches during the war. The show “The Far Side of the Moon” impressed us with its innovative set and Yves Jacques’ talent performing alone on stage during the entire show. We learned about the story of the very interesting Julie d’Aubigny, in the show “Deviant Women – Julie d’Aubigny”. And we got to see a puppet show that was most definitely not for children with the show “The Daisy Theatre” by Canadian Ronnie Burkett at the Sydney Festival.

Schnitzel from “The Daisy Theatre” ready for bed. Image by Prudence Upton

Schnitzel from “The Daisy Theatre” ready for bed. Image by Prudence Upton


Just for laughs!

We laughed at French-speaking or faux French comedians such as Al La France with his show “I think I’m Dead”, Marcel Lucont, and the show Cyranose, from which we spoke to Richard Maritzer, all of which performed at the Adelaide Fringe.


John Russell ‘Mrs Russell among the flowers in the garden of Goulphar, Belle-Île’ 1907 oil on canvas 79 x 100 cm Musée d’Orsay, Paris, held by the Musée de Morlaix, bequest of Mme Jouve 1948 “John Russell, Australia’s French impressionist” exhibition.



There weren’t just performing arts either. Impressionist art was prominent in exhibitions in Australia. There was the very well received “Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay” which was in Adelaide for 4 months and we got to speak with Paul Perrin, one of the exhibition curators from the Musée d’Orsay the day before the exhibition opened. Currently on in Sydney, another French impressionist art exhibition is on but this time, the paintings are those of an Australian who studied and lived in France: “John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist”.

Claude Monet: La Pie which was shown in Adelaide for the Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay exhibition


We also got to speak with Camille Chaumette and Agnès Mabille, exhibition curators while they were in Australia for the small exhibition of paintings by French photographer Michael Setboun. The photos comprised his “Paris Dark Light” exhibition and stayed in Adelaide for the weekend of the Adelaide French Festival in January.

France. Paris. 4th district. quai d Orleans along the seine river , on saint louis island. in the distance Notre dame Cathedral / Quai d orleans sur l ile saint Louis,


Another important exhibition of French works was that of Cartier: The Exhibition, which was on at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra for a few months. Cartier Jewels dazzled the crowds.

HM Queen Elizabeth II
(wearing the Cartier diamond necklace
gift from the Nizam of Hyderabad for her wedding in 1947), 1953


Special days

Matilda Marseillaise helped you celebrate the special days such as La Chandeleur and La Galette des Rois as well as the French, Belgian and Swiss National Holidays (sorry Québécois – I will include yours next year!) She also shared ideas for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.


Let’s drink champagne

And because no celebration is complete without champagne, Matilda let you know about all the events on the subject. She spoke to you about Champagne Fest at the National Wine Centre and of her experiences at its masterclasses. Matilda told you how and where to celebrate the Grand Moët Day in Sydney and Melbourne. She invited you to diners with a champagne focus such as the Mumm and Perrier-Jouet dinner or festivals which celebrate champagne like Effervescence which was on last month.

Champagnes and Sparkling wines enjoyed at the Masterclass at Champagne Fest 2017



And if we have champagne, then we also have wine, and events or even just places dedicated to it. Matilda spoke to you about the event comparing New and Old World wines, a night celebrating rosé called 15 Shades of Rosé and Rosé Royale, a bar dedicated to rose-tinted wine which opened in Sydney last year – and she spoke to its founder. More recently, Matilda encouraged you to try the new French cocktail inspired range from Australian brand Sofi Spritz.


The World Cup

And Matilda told you where to catch all of the French or Belgian World Cup Matches – even if they were played in the middle of the night Australian time. And of course, we all know that France won, which gave us yet another reason to celebrate!


La cuisine française

French cuisine has also had its moment. Matilda has spoken to you about Good France – the worldwide French dinner and about French restaurants awarded among the top 500 Australian restaurants according to the Australian Financial Review.


What have been your favourite moments over the last year? What subjects would you be interested in reading about over the next year?