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QPAC leads way out of the dark as Queensland's Own return to stage

Culture

QPAC will become one of the first major performing arts venues in Australia to reopen its doors for major productions, with the state’s flagship arts companies set to perform to 50 per cent capacity audiences as part of a series of events called Queensland’s Own.

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Queensland Ballet, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Opera Queensland and Queensland Theatre will return to the venue for the first time since it closed its doors in March, along with Brisbane contemporary circus troupe Circa, which performed a short season of Leviathan at QPAC for Brisbane Festival this month.

QPAC had reopened some of its spaces in August for small-capacity performances as part of its Unlocked program of events, with seating at the Concert Hall, Cremorne Theatre and Lyrebird restaurant extensively reconfigured to meet health and social-distancing requirements.

But the return of Queensland’s premier arts organisations to QPAC’s stages represents the most significant step in the venue’s reopening since it was forced to shut its doors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

QPAC’s chief executive John Kotzas said the announcement was welcome news for a sector that had been hard hit by COVID-19 and said it was an important step forward in the overall arts industry’s recovery.

“We’re fortunate in Queensland to have our very own nationally and internationally acclaimed arts companies and we feel it’s a natural progression for them to be part of this next phase of QPAC’s reopening as we move towards our theatres operating at 50 per cent capacity in a COVID-Safe environment,” Kotzas said.

“The recent success of our sold-out QPAC Unlocked program shows there is appetite for people to get out and enjoy live performance again and that’s great news for our industry but also the other sectors and businesses that are impacted by our closure.

“These challenging times have highlighted the important and unifying role that art plays in our lives and we’re grateful to the Queensland Government for acknowledging this through their funding of this program.

“QPAC, alongside our state companies and the wider arts industry, is committed to creating joyful arts experiences and connecting communities and this funding is enabling us to do so once again.”

Brisbane’s contemporary circus troupe Circa’s Humans. (Photo: Sarah Walker)

The further reopening of QPAC has been made possible by funding from the State Government as part of its Arts and Cultural Recovery Package.

Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said the investment of $350,000 for Queensland’s Own would help sustain the arts sector, drive new creative work, employ artists and arts workers, and deliver COVID-safe arts experiences for local audiences.

“This investment is part of the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package and means these companies will perform once again on the QPAC stage, showcasing their incredible talents,” Enoch said.

“This is a fantastic outcome for Queensland audiences who can once again connect with live performances from our leading arts companies.

“The new program will also support around 2000 employment opportunities for artists and arts workers.”

Kotzas said the health and wellbeing of its patrons, staff and artists was the top priority in planning for the upcoming program and the centre would be operating under its approved site-specific COVID-Safe plan.

Queensland’s Own begins on Sunday with Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Reel Classics, which will include renditions of original movie scores and classical music featured in inspiring films, including the triumphant themes from Star Wars; ‘Adventures on Earth’ from the flying-bike sequence in. E.T; and, arranged especially for the QSO, stirring works from Rachel Portman’s Oscar-winning score for 2013’s Belle.

QSO will follow Reel Classics with Beethoven 5 on October 16-17; featuring Richard Strauss’s ‘Don Juan’ and Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No.5’, and Beethoven’s Emperor (November 21), showcasing the composer’s mighty ‘Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat (Emperor)’ and Respighi’s ‘Pine of Rome’.

Opera Queensland’s ENCORE!, which takes place on October 23-24, includes a collection of much-loved arias, duets and ensemble pieces performed by acclaimed singers Shaun Brown, Andrew Collis, Eva Kong, Rosario La Spina, Virgilio Marino and Milijana Nikolic, as well as OQ’s 2020 Young Artist Rebecca Cassidy.

QPAC will also host the state premiere of award-winning Scottish playwright Kieran Hurley’s Mouthpiece from October 31 to November 14, starring acclaimed Queensland actor Christen O’Leary (Ladies in Black, North by Northwest) and Jayden Popi, who will be making his QT debut.

Queensland Ballet dancers Lucy Green and Sam Packer perform as part of the 60 Dancers: 60 Stories program.

Queensland Ballet returned to the stage to perform highlights from its 60 Dancers: 60 Stories series – short ballets created by its own dancers in isolation around the theme of love in intimate settings at the Brisbane Powerhouse, Gold Coast venue HOTA and Toowomba’s Empire Theatre, as part of festivities for the Carnival of Flowers.

The company will continue its 60th birthday celebrations with another collection of highlights from 60 Dancers: 60 Stories at QPAC from December 10-12.

“We’re so thrilled to be able to play a part in leading society out of the COVID-19 by performing” Queensland ballet artistic director Li Cunxin told InQueensland.

“We just came back from two successful performances at Toowoomba as part of their annual flower carnival and people were so appreciative.

“People were very emotional in the audience to be able to experience something in the performing arts again.”

The Queensland’s Own showcase program concludes with productions from Circa, Humans from November 18-22, and popular family production Carnival of the Animals – a collaboration between Circa and QPAC’s Out of the Box – from December 16-20.

Tickets for Queensland’s Own, which runs from September 28 until December 20, will be on general sale from 11am Friday. Visit qpac.com.au or phone 136-246 for more information.

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