The Sydney Opera House today launched its first new festival in five years, BINGEFEST: a 24-hour celebration of addictive storytelling, performance art, journalism, video games, pop culture icons, podcast trailblazers – and cats.
“The Opera House is about exploring and reflecting the culture around us as its morphs and evolves,” BINGEFEST founder and curator, Danielle Harvey, said of the inspiration for the new festival. “Television, podcasts, gaming and the internet at large create an artistic frame through which we view the world.
“Over the last few years, we have tried to push the boundaries of what audiences can expect to see at the Opera House – from Michael Cera to Ira Glass, Alan Ball, RJ Mitte, R.R Martin, Tavi Gevinson, Piper Kerman, Mallory Ortberg, Joss Whedon,and Gideon Raff. BINGEFEST is the culmination of all of these wonderful moments; we cannot wait to explore binge culture at the Sydney Opera House in the all-encompassing, immersive environment that only a festival can create.”
The inaugural BINGEFEST 2016 will take place over two action-packed days and across the Opera House – from the sprawling forecourt to the Joan Sutherland Theatre, traditional home of ballerinas and opera singers.
Highlights include artists Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner in a new participatory performance artwork, which will take place over two successive nights, from midnight until 6am, and 10pm until 6am.
In February 2014, Shia LaBeouf appeared on the red carpet at the Berlin Film Festival wearing a paper bag over his head emblazoned with the words “I Am Not Famous Anymore.” This performative gesture signalled the beginning of an enduring collaboration with UK artist and author of The Metamodernist Manifesto, Luke Turner, and Finnish artist, Nastja Säde Rönkkö.
Since then, the trio have launched more than a dozen projects, using empathy, emotion and social interaction to foster new forms of communality across digital and physical networks. These artworks have involved the artists fielding emotional phone calls from strangers at Liverpool’s FACT gallery (#TOUCHMYSOUL), transmitting their heartbeat online during SXSW (#FOLLOWMYHEART), live-streaming LaBeouf watching his complete back catalogue in a 3-day communal screening at a New York theatre (#ALLMYMOVIES), and most recently, journeying around North America by tweeting their coordinates and inviting the public to take them anywhere (#TAKEMEANYWHERE).
Further details about their project will be announced closer to the date, and the event will be free to attend.
Other BINGEFEST highlights include:
- The Internet Cat Video Festival – founded by the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis in 2012, the Internet Cat Video Festival began as a community celebration of crowdsourced content, and has since grown to a stadium-sized event for 13,000 fans of the Internet’s best cat videos. In partnership with the RSPCA, the Sydney Opera House forecourt is the purr-fect location for bingers and cat fans to come together and collectively consume a mini-marathon of kitty-related content. This event is supported by Buzzfeed Australia, the true home of cats on the Internet.
- Jad Abumrad is the co-creator and host of award-winning public radio program and podcast Radiolab, a show that celebrates curiosity, illuminates ideas, and blurs the boundaries between science, philosophy and human experience. At BingeFest, Abumrad – a composer and ‘certified genius’ according to the Macarthur Foundation – will discuss how the visceral, negative feeling of “Gut Churn” can help propel artists forward in their work.
- Executive Producer of Serial, the spin-off of pioneering podcast This American Life, Julie Snyder, will discuss “Binge-worthy Journalism.” The first season of Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig, followed the story of Adnan Syed – who was found guilty of his ex-girlfriend’s murder in 2000 – through the twists and turns of trials and mistrials. Serial not only revolutionised episodic audio narrative forms and earned itself a Peabody Award in 2015, it has led to a retrial of what is now an infamous case.
- The Writers’ Room will be a rare behind-the-screen foray by some of the best brains creating great television around the world, featuring Dan Harmon (Community) and Australia’s own Celia Pacquola (Utopia, The Beautiful Lie) and Luke McGregor (Utopia, It’s A Date, Rosehaven).
- “Harmontown (Live)” with Dan Harmon & Friends will be a live recording of the weekly comedy podcast, Harmontown. The creator of cult-favourite sitcom Community and co-creator of animated TV series Rick and Morty will make his Sydney debut at BingeFest with a largely improvised mix of A-list guests, improv comedy and failed self-help sessions. Harmontown began as a quest to create utopia, and regularly ends with a segment dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons. Harmon will be joined by Spencer Crittenden, Jeff Davis and more guests to be announced.
- “All The TV You Should Have Watched By Now” will give audiences the chance to get up-to-date recommendations on the best of television, presented by American pop culture experts and obsessives, The AV Club. The AV Club will also host a binge-watching night celebrating the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with “Welcome to the Hellmouth;” exploring how Buffy changed television for the better.
- Features reporter and columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Christopher Borelli, is the man who has written 1,000 earnest words on the mathematical formula behind suspense. At BingeFest, his talk “When TV Got High: How Low Culture Saved Society,” will explore what it is about TV that makes it so important… and why it always has the last laugh.
- “The Harambe Memorial Service” will feature Australian ‘investigative humourist’ Dan Ilicand a panel of local comedians and journalists Mark Di Stefano, James Colley, Rosie Waterland, Theo Saidden and Celeste Barber, celebrating the internet’s 47th birthday and taking a meta-tour through the viral hits of 2016.
- Local dance queen Amrita Hepi will run two intimate dance classes in the Sydney Opera House’s backstage rehearsal room pitting two divas vying for the title of 2016’s most exhilarating record release, Beyoncé and Rihanna.
- Taking place overnight in the Joan Sutherland Theatre Northern Foyer, 24HR Street Fighter will give audiences the chance to play cult favourite arcade game Street Fighterfor free. HADOUKEN!!!
- Insta-famous Sydney snack icon Redfern Convenience Store, with a once-only pop-up in the Sydney Opera House overnight from 11.30pm for fans to stay fueled.
BINGEFEST is the latest in a string of festivals that have helped map and shift our collective culture over the last decade, from Vivid LIVE, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas and GRAPHIC to All About Women.