12 reasons to be excited about 2012

Great things are in store for Sydneysiders in the New Year. Time Out offers a sneak peek into highlights of the next 12 months... 


Sydney Festival

Sydney Festival 2012

Kicking off the year with a bang with be Sydney Festival – when amazing performers flood into town and the whole city kicks up its heels in a glorious celebration of the summer. This year the festival expands its horizons with extra shows in Parramatta in the beautiful Idolize Spiegeltent and in Redfern. Festival highlights include Washington; Nick Zinner’s 41 Strings; the National Theatre of Scotland’s boxing theatre piece Beautiful Burnout; Brit comedian Adam Buxton’s music-video comedy BUG; US radio great Ira Glass in conversation; the film West Side Story, screened with a live orchestral score; a wealth of kids’ events and the AGNSW’s already-here Picasso exhibition.





If you've had a drink at Shady Pines Saloon, it's almost certain you've been served by 24-year-old Jeremy Blackmore (ex-Beresford and Low 302) or 23-year-old Alex Dowd (ex-Sticky Bar and the Beresford) – or maybe even both at the same time. These two booze rats are opening a Northwestern Guatamelan-inspired tequila and beer hall called Tio's, which will hopefully be up and running next door to the Hotel Hollywood in Surry Hills by early January. “I fell in love with tequila while I was in Edinburgh," Blackmore tells us. "And Dowdy's granddad only drinks tequila. He has a social club whose motto is 'Fishin', Tequila, Lap Dancin'.” Tio means uncle in Spanish, but is slang for dude. "It sounds nice, and we are dudes."


Mary MacLane


The Story of Mary MacLane By Herself

Mary MacLane was one of the original literary ‘bad girls’. In 1902, at the age of 19, she shocked readers with her published diaries: an intelligent, erotic and powerful take on young womanhood. Another remarkable lady, playwright and actress Bojana Novakovic (Burning Man), has adapted MacLane’s writings for the stage and will star as MacLane herself. Her onstage sparring partner will be Tim Rogers from You Am I, providing all original music for the production. It’s shaped up to be a compelling collision of the historical and the contemporary, and we can’t think of a better space for it than Griffin’s intimate SBW Stables Theatre in Kings Cross.




Greater Western Sydney joins the AFL

This year, for the first time since 1982, Sydney AFL fans will be a force divided... or is it united? The Greater Western Sydney Giants arrive as the AFL’s 18th team and Sydney’s second. Coached by 885-game guru Kevin Sheedy, the $200 million Giants franchise will be based in Blacktown and will play in an orange, white and charcoal strip. Not only will the Giants challenge the Sydney Swans for a support base, they’ll also strive to woo western-Sydney footy fans away from rugby league. It’s a bold venture and the Giants have plenty of naysayers – Eddie McGuire famously deplored the AFL’s decision to establish a team “in the land of the falafel” – but with a mix of cross-code converts (ex-League star Israel Folau), wily veterans (ex-Melbourne captain James McDonald) and young stars (Callan Ward, Sam Reid, Tom Scully) plus a membership already at 12,000 before the 2012 season even begins, GWS will talk loudest on the field... starting with a hotly-anticipated hometown showdown v the Swans on March 24 at ANZ Stadium.




Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour

In Sydney, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with harbour views and glass of bubbly. Why spend an autumn evening stuck inside the Sydney Opera House when you could be in the delightful gardens of Mrs Macquaries Point? And since you’re there after dark, how about some fireworks? And if you’re taking on Verdi’s La Traviata you’ll want a decent-sized stage for the orchestra and chorus, so why not just build one over the water? Hey, they can just take it down after the three-week run... And given a budget of $12 million, why not throw in a nine-metre chandelier? If you’re getting a top soprano to sing the most famous drinking song in the operatic repertoire, why not crank her up to the chandelier with a camouflaged 26-metre crane? It’s all so obvious, we can’t understand why nobody thought of it before.





After baffling us with Lost and heightening our paranormal senses with Fringe, acclaimed producer JJ Abrams returns in 2012 with Alcatraz, his latest small-screen spectacular. Set on the famed prison island in San Francisco Bay, it sees Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) attempting to piece together the mystery of its former inmates miraculously rising from the dead and continuing their criminal ways. Dr Diego “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia) is an expert on “The Rock”, who assists Madsen in both solving the case, and battling the impediment of Government Agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill). Alcatraz is a drama containing all of the typical JJ Abrams components – sci-fi, time trave, conspiracies – unravelling to reveal far more than is immediately apparent. Be sure to catch its Australian premiere on Nine in the New Year and expect to be hooked from the start.




Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain

Making their first trip down under, the maestros of the ‘bonsai guitar’ will bring their sounds of massed plucking to the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. The oldest and most famous ukulele orchestra in the world has played everywhere from tiny pubs to the Royal Albert Hall and will be bringing a repertoire spanning Beethoven, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Morricone, ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Psycho Killer’ and ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. The group prides itself on probing the beauty and the vacuity of both highbrow and popular music using instruments that can be bought for spare change. It’s one luau Time Out can’t wait for.




BioShock Infinite

BioShock 1 and 2 both got perfect scores from us in the past, so we have high hopes for the third entry in the game series. That’s particularly so now that we’ve left the art deco undersea city of Rapture and its roaming Big Daddies and Little Sisters for the floating city of Columbia, a steampunk dystopia being torn apart by factional infighting and giant robots. Will its story act as an allegory for blind adherence to dogma, as in the previous iterations? Will it tragically mirror the political rifts in the US ahead of the 2012 election? Will it have any totally sweet weapons? We’re quietly optimistic.


Sydney Biennale

18th Biennale of Sydney

The monster arts event is back in 2012 under the curatorship of Belgium’s Catherine de Zegher and Canada's Gerald McMaster, presenting more innovative and challenging world contemporary art, this time on the theme ‘All Our Relations’. More than half a million visitors are expected to descend on the best art venues in Sydney: the hallowed halls of the Art Gallery of NSW, the (soon-to-be) revamped Museum of Contemporary Art, the immense Pier 2/3 on the historic Walsh Bay waterfront and, just a ferry ride away, the marvellous Cockatoo Island. It’s going to be massive.


Francis Bacon


Francis Bacon at the Art Gallery of NSW

You know Bacon – the great British artist whose twisted, screaming portraits are among the most famous figurative paintings of the 20th century. In November the AGNSW is hosting a show of 50 major works spanning five decades, plus photographs, films and ephemera, that’s bound to be one of the major art events of 2012. Three more interesting facts about Bacon: he was a huge influence on Brett Whiteley; he seduced and had a long-term relationship with a man (George Dyer) whom he first met when he was burglarising his home; and Margaret Thatcher once condemned him as “the man who painted those dreadful pictures.”



The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films grossed nearly US$3 billion worldwide, won 17 Academy Awards, and gave everyone a reason to get excited about going to the movies on Boxing Day. Expect massive queues outside cinemas on 26 Dec, 2012, as the first of Jackson’s two films based on Tolkien’s The Hobbit opens. The Hobbit introduces the young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and shows how he met Gandalf (Ian McKellen) on an adventure with a dozen dwarves to slay a dragon. Creepy Gollum (Andy Serkis) and that pesky ring also return, along with Christopher Lee (Saruman), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Hugo Weaving (Elrond) and Orlando Bloom (Legolas) – and even Elijah Wood’s Frodo is set to make a cameo appearance.




Redfern rises from the rubble

In 2012, Redfern will become a crucible for change. In January, Sydney Festival establishes Black Capital, an arts precinct based in CarriageWorks to host performances, seminars and exhibitions exploring Australia’s indigenous soul. At the same time, work begins on the ABC TV series Redfern Now, the explosive stories of six households in Redfern – a collaboration between Jimmy McGovern (Cracker) and Blackfella Films (First Australians). And having provided the vivid backdrop to Underbelly Razor, the land that once housed “The Block” will rise anew as the Pemulwuy Project. The development will include housing, health care, gymnasiums and open parkland, with plans for an Indigenous Cultural Centre proceeding apace. Walk Redfern’s struggle streets in 2012 and you’ll find the burned edges blossoming with cafés, bars, restaurants, workshops and galleries. Nothing will ever be black and white here but the fade to grey is over and new hope burns bright.



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First published on 9 Nov 2011. Updated on 28 Feb 2012.

By Jason Catlett, Nick Dent, Angus Fontaine, Stuart Holmes, Darryn King, Myffy   |  

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