Sipat Lawin and friends - photo by Bertha Alejandrino Santos
Arts House disrupts how art is experienced!

Attracting an international reputation for ground breaking contemporary performance, Melbourne’s Arts House continues to draw attention to extraordinary artists who create life-changing art and are driven by cultural transformation. Arts House Artistic Director, Emily Sexton explains that Arts House plays a pivotal role with the national and international contemporary arts sector and is alive with purpose and renewal.  

Valuing diverse engagement across the creative sector, the Arts House 2020 Season 1 program is underpinned by distinct partnerships and co-commissions with a pool of long-standing and high profile festival partners, including Asia TOPA and Next Wave as well as introducing a new biennial live event in the everyday digital: BLEEDConceived and presented with Campbelltown Arts Centre in western Sydney, BLEED is a new six-year exploration into the interplay between the live and the digital. 

BLEED tracks the digital creep and hyper-connectivity between bodies and devices - the real and the virtual - as well as private and public experiences. Announcing the full program in March 2020, BLEED will be presented online, in the flesh and on devices. 

For Asia TOPA, Arts House will showcase What is Chinese? by Shanghai artists: Xiao Ke and Zi Han. They have travelled the globe speaking to over one hundred and forty people from the Chinese diaspora, including local Melbournians. Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands is by Philippines theatre ensemble Sipat Lawin, who have created an action thriller set to 40 years of Filipino pop.

In May 2020 and in partnership with Next Wave, Arts House presents the new dance work In Perpetuity by choreographer Ivey Wawn, and also the premiere of Possession, an electronic opera for one devised by Marcus Whale

Following its sell-out success in 2019, Spectral will return to expose a series of installations and performances that dive into the spaces between sound and light. Next year, Spectral will feature a collection of incredible sound and audio artists: Shohei Fujimoto, Del Lumanta, Robert Curgenven, Kat McDowall, House of Vnholy and Howie Lee with Amrita Hepi.

Arts House’s trajectory into 2020 will continue with the popular Makeshift program that offers three-day artist-led professional development intensive for artists. Critically acclaimed theatre company, Rawcus, will share their approaches into inclusive practice when working with diverse teams of performers and designers. Sound artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey will lead workshops that look at sound and listening in public, shared and unusual spaces.

As the national producing house for new Australian contemporary performance, the Arts House CultureLAB program continues and will host creative development residencies for possible new works and ideas created by Australian artists Emily Parsons-Lord, Sara Morawetz, Mike Bianco and Keg de Souza.

Asia TOPA: 20 – 29 Feb 

What is Chinese? by Xiao Ke x Zi Han 
A country, a culture, a community, or an identity? What is Chinese? is an international collaboration tracing the connections and distinctions between people the world over. Shanghai artists Xiao Ke and Zi Han have travelled the globe speaking to over one hundred and forty members of the Chinese diaspora, and an exhibition of their interviews and portraits forms the launching point for this many-faceted work. As What is Chinese? unfolds the pair will join local artists to create and live in a 'home' in Arts House's Warehouse, where audiences will be invited to visit, eat and talk. Part documentary, part performance, part installation, What is Chinese? ends with the local artists sharing new work that reflects on this playful zone of cross-cultural contact.

26 – 29 Feb: Asia TOPA

Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands by Sipat Lawin and Friends 
The Philippines' biggest popstar has been kidnapped, and it's up to a ragtag squad of fans to bring her back. They'll brave rooftop chases, knife fights in the back of speeding jeepneys and underwater shoot-outs to liberate their idol from a conspiracy that threatens to tear their country apart. And then there's the music: this blistering action epic is set to 40 years of Filipino pop, vaulting from 1970s peace anthems to contemporary Filipino hip-hop, from viral YouTube techno to iconic Pinoy power ballads. A neon-drenched action adventure set in a nation on the brink, Are You Ready to Take the Law into Your Own Hands has zero political relevance to current events. None. At all.

2 – 9 Apr: Spectral

Featuring Shohei Fujimoto, Del Lumanta, Robert Curgenven, Kat McDowall, House of Vnholy and Howie Lee with Amrita Hepi
Spectral is a series of works that dive into the spaces between sound and light. From immersive interruptions that capture the mind to synaesthetic voyages beyond the boundaries of the body, these installations and performances demand to be witnessed firsthand. Following a record-breaking season in 2019, Spectral 2020 is guaranteed to be one of the hottest tickets around.

20 – 22 Apr: Makeshift

DEVISE – inclusive practice with ensembles by Rawcus
Rawcus is a critically acclaimed ensemble of performers with and without disability. DEVISE Makeshift workshop offers insight into the creative process and methodology Rawcus employs in its rehearsal room when creating new work with a diverse team of performers and designers. Over three days you will break-down ideas of inclusive practice and how this is applied within ensemble and devising processes: what might it look like, how does it interact with design and how can we think about it in a broad and nuanced way? A combination of discussion, performance tasks, devising exercises, reflection and exchange, participants will have the opportunity to work with Rawcus designers: Emily Barrie (set and costumes), Jethro Woodward (sound), Richard Vabre (lighting) and try out ideas alongside members of the Rawcus ensemble.  

25 – 27 Mar: Makeshift

How things sound matters by Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey
Long-term collaborative team Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey lead a Makeshift workshop that recasts our understanding of listening in public, shared and unusual spaces. Driven by their ongoing curiosity about the possibilities of listening in public, this workshop will explore the use of semi-intelligent and AI technologies as a tool for audience involvement in the creation of sound works. Artists will bring to the gathering their own creative obstacles – a problem that is blocking the progress of an idea – and through a peer-to-peer, collaborative commons approach the group will seek resolutions that point the way forward. Artists will also be invited to bring 30-minute playlists of their own to investigate the ways in which the hows and whys of listening are intricately connected to where it takes place. Over three days this deep dive into the contexts, motivations and actual experience of sound will provide both concrete, hands-on knowledge of emerging technologies including AI and a broader understanding of the field of sonic and participatory art.  

20 – 23 May: Next Wave

In Perpetuity by Ivey Wawn 
We are the living dead. For most of our lives our meaning is stripped down to the profitability of our bodies. How can we strive to be anything more, when the value of our existence is reduced to its labour potential? Choreographer Ivey Wawn asks us to find magic in the spaces between us. Alternately mournful, sensual and violent, In Perpetuity uses dance, music, scent and language to question our relationships to capital, to ourselves and to each other. It is not an escape, but an exploration of where and how we might resist the abstracting forces that will us toward this state of living death.

27 – 30 May: Next Wave 

Possession by Marcus Whale 
Desire is a form of possession, commanding the body from within. Do we resist its embrace, or allow it to compel us wherever it must? Drawing on horror film depictions of the monster queer, this electronic opera for one straddles the line between fear and surrender, revulsion and communion. Possession celebrates the high drama and craft of opera via a solo performer inhabited by forces beyond human control. Aural feedback manifests physically and disembodied sounds hum, howl and screech. An unseen force slowly takes charge of the body. As this soundscape of haunted vibrations expands, a grotesque dance of hunger and transformation unfolds.

22 Jun – 5 Jul: BLEED 

A biennial live event in the everyday digital in partnership with Campbelltown Arts Centre 
BLEED is a new six-year project exploring the interplay between the live and the digital. From URL to IRL and back again, this is art that meets you where you already are: online, hyper-connected and endlessly networked. Presented by Arts House and Campbelltown Arts Centre, BLEED tracks the border crossings between bodies and devices, the real and the virtual, and our private and public selves. As the digital increasingly seeps into our communities, identities and culture, these works make visible the shifts in power that result. BLEED Volume 1 takes place at Arts House, Campbelltown Arts Centre, online, in the flesh and in your pocket. Between the beating heart and technology's bleeding edge, this is art as the pulse of tomorrow. Full program announced March 2020. Sign up for updates at

More information and bookings HERE 

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