Lights are on but things are still getting intimate at Powerhouse

The lights are back on and there’s somebody home at Brisbane Powerhouse again, with tickets still available for a series of intimate concerts and performances taking place at the New Farm venue in the coming weeks.

Aug 06, 2020, updated Aug 06, 2020
Brisbane Powerhouse hosts the new Vertigo restaurant.

Brisbane Powerhouse hosts the new Vertigo restaurant.

The Lights On at Brisbane Powerhouse program kicked off late last month with performances by contemporary circus troupe Circa Ensemble and “trash glamour disco circus” cabaret outfit Club Briefs at Powerhouse Theatre.

Lights On at Brisbane Powerhouse is about emergence; it’s about reminding ourselves what we mean to each other and remembering the value of art and artists,” Brisbane Powerhouse artistic director Kris Stewart said.

This weekend, as part of the program, Queensland Ballet will bring its 60 Dancers: 60 Stories digital program to the stage.

Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin said the 60 Dancers: 60 Stories program had lifted dancers’ spirits since its launch in June.

“Professional dancers by their nature are resilient, driven and creative, so they’ve found innovative ways to keep busy and fit during the COVID shutdown,” Li told InQueenskand. “But these people have dedicated their lives to dance, so to be able to rehearse and be able to return to the stage is a huge boost to morale.

“These shows will be intimate and uplifting, and for many people they may be a once in a lifetime experience. To have such high-calibre dancers performing for just a handful of people would usually be unfeasible, and so I encourage everyone attending to enjoy the moment, and take in the spectacle that’s before them.”

Sisters Renee and Heidi Freeman, who will perform their piece Introspection as part of Queensland ballet’s program, said they were thrilled to be involved.

“Li told us our first show for 2020 would be Lights On at the Powerhouse, Heidi said. “He told us he’d be picking a few of the 60 Dancers: 60 Stories to be featured in the show, and our name was on the cast list so that was really exciting.

“The last time I was on stage was December 21, my 21st birthday so it was memorable. It’s been a highly anticipated season being our 60th anniversary and to finally get on stage to perform is exciting, all be it with a smaller audience.”

Heidi Freeman said she was equally thrilled to be performing at Brisbane Powerhouse for what will be her first time back on the stage in six months.

“Being at the Powerhouse it will be an intimate experience, so we will be able to connect and convey our gratitude and emotions to the audience.”

On August 14-15, iconic Brisbane musician Robert Forster will host QMusic’s Songs From Your Shutdown, in which Queensland artists Darren Hanlon, Sycco and Minor Premiers will share their stories and some of the songs they have created during lockdown.

In an interview to discuss the band’s new album Sheets in the Garden in June, Minor Premiers singer Luke Daniel Peacock told InQueensland he and his bandmates were looking forward to getting back on the stage to showcase some of their new material.

“It’s not like it was part of a whole plan to put the record out and make some money to then expand our careers as members of Minor Premiers or as a band, because we never really intended on doing that, we always just wanted to play [Fortitude] Valley bars and hang out with friends and have fun,” he said.

Internationally renowned beatboxer and electronic composer Tom Thum will also be joining 20 members of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra for two shows on August 21 and 22, both of which have already sold out.

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Stewart said the reception from audiences had been overwhelmingly positive since the venue reopened for performances.

“We’ve certainly had no shortage of people that have wanted to leave their house after such a long period of time to both come to the restaurants and also come and see shows,” Stewart told InQueensland.

“We’ve been pretty much at capacity since reopening,” he said, “but of course capacity is a very different thing now at a time of social distancing than it was previously.”

The venue is one of six across Queensland taking part in the State Government’s Venue Pilot Program, which is funded through Arts Queensland to pilot reopenings and deliver programming that adheres to COVID-19 social restrictions.

“Everyone that comes to the Powerhouse sort of checks in on arrival, we manage the numbers of people that are there. If you’re sitting in the restaurant or the theatre you’re socially distanced from people you don’t know to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Stewart acknowledged “the experience is different” in atmosphere but said the restrictions, which included tables of between two and six people and maximum audience sizes of 100, offered a unique opportunity to experience the Powerhouse in a safe and intimate setting.

Brisbane Powerhouse artistic director Kris Stewart.

“We’ve kind of tried to make it feel more like you’re in a business-class lounge,” he said.

“We don’t want to point out the things that you don’t have, as compared to previously, we want to sort of point out that this moment in time can be special and different.

“Coming to the Powerhouse and sitting at a table with friends and having a bottle of wine, that’s just as great an experience as it always has been.”

Visit For more details about the Brisbane Powerhouse Lights On program, visit the venue’s website.

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