RISING Festival announces 2022 program

On the first night of winter, artists, musicians and creatures of the night will pulse through a city reawakened. A festival three years in the making, created by Melbourne and reconnecting with the world, RISING is inviting audiences to get lost, go deep and shake loose. This is the festival the city has been waiting for. A surge of art, music, performance and ceremony in the heart of Melbourne, RISING will electrify the city from 1—12 June 2022. 

Set to envelop the city and its surrounds, RISING will comprise 225 events—including 22 commissions and 14 world premieres—featuring 801 local and international artists, who will take the city as their canvas, transforming its streets, gardens, carparks, waterways and rooftops in an explosion of culture aimed squarely at the heart of Melbourne’s night-time scene. 

Across 12 nights, Melbourne will come alive with an array of free and family focussed events; transformative public art installations; large-scale performances; intimate works of theatre; dance that redefines the form; and a music program that traverses the globe from Japan to Switzerland, South London to Saskatchewan—the program also marks the city’s first international music festival line-up in over two years. 

“In such tumultuous times, the privilege and necessity to gather, dance, sing and celebrate artistic expression is not lost on us,” said RISING Co-Artistic Directors, Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek. “Melbourne is back and we’re over the moon.” 

Returning after beguiling audiences for just one night in 2021, The Wilds will once again spring to life, rendering the Sidney Myer Music Bowl indistinguishable (as we know it). Sprawling structures and eccentric performances blur the lines between the earthly and otherworldly. 

A fluoro fantasy of art, sound, taste and ice, this year’s iteration of The Wilds sees acclaimed New York-based Australian artists Tin & Ed create an all-new technicolour world. Science and nature co-exist in a multicellular meadow of giant inflatable sculptures and digital art deploying video game design engines. 

Meanwhile, mythic architectural organisms will populate The Wilds care of the Filipino contemporary fine artist Leeroy New. Using the recycled bamboo bones of The Wilds 2021, New has built a tangled, abundant landscape blurring the lines between the organic and constructed. 

Cult snacks at The Wilds—from the likes of 1800 Lasagne and Smith & Daughters—and multi-course feasts will provide fuel for new leaves to bud at pop-up kitchens and a glowing glasshouse bistro, The Lighthouse, helmed by celebrated chefs David Moyle, Jo Barrett and Matt Stone. Punters can then complete their night by ascending the Bowl’s stage to zip around an ice-skating rink, while our caterwauling Night Chorus belts out reconstructed ‘80s and ‘90s hits. 


Around the bend from the Bowl, a giant laser beam, almost one kilometre long, will shoot blazing light down the Birrarung (Yarra) river, coursing above the water to a nexus at Princess Bridge in MONOCHORDaudio-visual artist Robin Fox’s luminescent public artwork. MONOCHORD radically alters the city’s landscape and makes visible the invisible lines that connect us—a mammoth moment of iridescent unification. 

“RISING will be a massive celebration of many of the things we love about Melbourne said Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson. “From edgy art to great food, awe-inspiring installations and hidden creative surprises. Showcasing the work of hundreds of local, national and international creatives, the festival is an invitation to rediscover the very best of Victoria’s culture and creativity.” 

From the Birrarung, audiences can follow Swanston Street to Lonsdale Street where they’ll be met by the work of contemporary artist Jenny Holzer. Pioneer, icon, communicator, Holzer has been at the vanguard of text-based art since the 1970s. Developed specifically for RISING alongside local collaborator Nikki Lam, I CONJURE will see Holzer flood the historic 19th-century facade of the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre with a six-story projection. 

Opposite the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre is Golden Square—RISING’s swirling art car park, featuring three levels of art, performance, parades and rooftop bars. Smack bang in the middle of the longest continuous Chinatown in the West is a twisting maze of contemporary art. Cultures, religions and identities overlap with new iterations of centuries-old folklore. Rough concrete pillars, glowing pyramids and a capitalist mega-church are the architecture of our multi-level exhibition of ritual, mythology and digital spirituality; featuring artists including Paul Yore, Su Hui Yu, Scotty So, Tabita Rezaire, Jason Phu and Atong Atem. 

Across the program, audiences will be treated to a divergent mix of unrepeatable, site-specific performance and public art, new collaborations in theatre and dance, and a couple of things audiences probably weren’t expecting. 


In a powerful and mesmerising multimedia dance production, Jurrungu ngan-ga reflects on the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody, and the years-long detention of refugees. Literally translating to English as “straight talk”, Jurrungu ngan-ga takes its inspiration from the words and experiences of Yawuru leader Patrick Dodson, Kurdish-Iranian writer and former Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani, and philosopher Omid Tofighian. With characteristic dedication, the dance company Marrugeku bridges Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures, working with urban and remote communities and identities in this lauded production. 

The Invisible Opera is a contemporary performance work for public space. Amongst the bustle of Federation Square it unfolds as a hypnotic observation of the ambient patterns of everyday life, The Invisible Opera gradually leads us to see the city—and our role within it—in a completely new light. Created by Australian multidisciplinary performer Sophia Brous with celebrated performance-makers Lara Thoms, Samara Hersch and Bessie-Award winning US choreographer Faye Driscoll, the work utilises immersive sound design, electroacoustic orchestration and live vocal performance beamed in through a network of CCTV cameras and hidden microphones that map each movement of the square in real-time. 

Conceived for RISING as part of MOVING OBJECTS (a collection of new work by First Peoples artists curated by RISING Artistic Associate Kimberley Moulton) wurukur djuanduk balag—Ancestors Are Calling makes its debut over two performances on Woi Wurrung, and Dja Dja Wurrung Country. Composed in multiple First Peoples languages by Dr Lou Bennett AM (Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung), the song-based work responds to the cultural belongings of First Peoples held in the Melbourne Museum collections. It speaks to the living culture of the objects, which are alive with the spirit and energy of the Country and people from which they came. 

Maureen sits before you. You’re her guest, so you’d better sit up and listen. It’s in this bohemian living room, accompanied by minimal props or costume, that writer and performer Jonny Hawkins transforms into Maureen: a razor tongued doyenne with stories to tell, inspired by Hawkins’ friend and self-described “working class glamour queen”. Co-created with director Nell Ranney, Maureen: Harbinger of Death, is a celebration of the rich lives of older women. A night of wit, imagination and storytelling. 

Locked away in museums, on display at universities and hoarded in private collections are the bodily remains of First Peoples men, women, and children, pillaged by grave robbers and sold on by unscrupulous dealers. The Return is inspired by director Jason Tamiru’s (Yorta Yorta) experiences as a repatriation worker, and the discredited and harmful scientific theory of eugenics, which Australia was once a hotspot for. Writer John Harvey (Torres Strait Islands) weaves three intersecting narratives—a repatriation officer, a museum curator and a bone collector—in a story spanning 250 years, in this arresting co-production with Malthouse Theatre. 

Janets Vagrant Love | Joseph Blackwell

A bare single mattress, empty water bottles and a small table are the seemingly barebones scaffolding of Janet’s Vagrant Love— a work 20-years in the making. When combined with the commanding performance and song of Elaine Crombie (Pitjantjatjara, Warrigmai and South Sea Islander), that simple set becomes a powder keg of emotion. Crombie shares her truth, telling stories of childhood trauma and the struggles of raising young Blak men as a single mum doing the best she can. Raw and intimate songs and experiences are punctuated with wicked one-liners and sharp observations. 

The Melbourne Art Trams return for 2022, with six trams once again featuring designs by First Peoples artists. Curated by artist Jarra Karalinar Steel (Boonwurrung/Wemba Wemba), Peoples), the collected works each respond to the theme “Unapologetically Blak”. And more than three decades later a design by acclaimed artist, painter and sculptor Lin Onus (Yorta Yorta) hits the tracks for the first time since 1991—a harmonious symbol of balanced opposites: circles and triangles, day and night, black and white cockatoos. 

The 2022 Artists are: Louise Moore (Wamba); Patricia Mckean (Gundijtmara/Kirrae Wurrong); Dr Paola Balla (Wemba-Wemba/Gundijtmara); Tegan Murdock (Duduroa); Darcy McConnell / Enoki (Yorta Yorta/Dja Dja Wurrung); and Lin Onus (Yorta Yorta), who’s 1992 Melbourne Art Tram will be reproduced for this year’s festival. 



In Stephanie Lake Company’s Manifesto, nine dancers twist with the motions of ballet, contemporary dance and hip hop as thunderous percussion rises. In front of a watermelon velvet background, on a grand elevated set, are nine drum kits and drummers. In precision concert, they unleash rebellion, command obedience, radiate wonder and show tenderness. A tattoo to optimism—its Busby Berkeley opulence meets pounding percussion in a rallying cry for solidarity. Manifesto is a tornado of movement, sound and will. 

Over the bridge from the MCG, footballers leap from the ground, sinewy arms outstretched towards the Sherrin. Around them, hopeful hands and bodies are ready to spoil the mark. Meanwhile, the crowd holds its breath in tense anticipation. In Still Lives: Melbourne, artists Luke George (Melbourne) and Daniel Kok (Singapore) work with five Australian Rules players to capture a moment in time bound by rope. In the recreation of a spectacular mark from football history, the players are transformed into living sculptures at the National Gallery of Victoria. 

Coming in off the back of their dazzling feat of endurance, The Second Woman, Nat Randall and Anna Breckon have returned with Set Piece—a work that eliminates the boundaries between film and stage. Crafted from a quick-witted script that draws on real-life dinner party conversation, improvisation and ‘50s pulp fiction, Set Piece juxtaposes lesbian fantasy with the queer ordinary. Combining the language of film with the craft of theatre, Breckon and Randall wield nuanced camera work to bridge the gap between observer and observed. 

In 21 Pornographies, Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsen embarks on a no-holds-barred, one-woman exploration of power, submission and observation. Often bearing little connection to explicit sex, Ingvartsen’s performance evokes the clinical precision, violence and cruelty of pornography—as well as its thrill, titillation and banal humour. 

Rewards for the Tribe sees two of the country’s most influential and innovative dance companies, Chunky Move and Restless Dance Theatre, collaborate for the first time. Together they ask if utopia by design is even possible. Five dancers, with and without disability, wrestle with the archetypes of divine geometry laid out by the Old Masters. Together they bend, crumple and reorganise a Mondrian-inspired whimsical set and costumes designed by Jonathan Oxlade. Rewards for the Tribe celebrates the imaginations of artists while embracing life’s exquisite chaos. 

In 1968, legendary New Zealand-born composer and deep listener Annea Lockwood set fire to an irreparable, upright piano on the banks of the River Thames in London. It was the first of her Piano Transplants, a series of pieces that reconfigured people’s relationship to one of the most iconic instruments of our age—the piano. For the first time ever, RISING will present all Piano Transplants in one series. 

Winner of a Total Theatre Award 2019, Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan are breaking the rules, the patriarchy and the space-time continuum. Working On My Night Moves is the search for multiple feminist futures, a reaching for outer space and a fever dream. With science fiction, quantum physics and dubstep mash ups, this is a quest for utopia. 

Footsteps speed up, laughter infects the crowd, clothes are shredded and limbs flail. Seventy people have reached a critical mass. Multitud, from Uruguayan choreographer Tamara Cubas, examines the power that lies within bodies, and what happens when they collide. In the lead-up to the performance, Cubas will bring together 70 people from different age groups, backgrounds, communities and artistic practices. Together they devise the work’s sound, movement and energy. 

For HOW TO LIVE (After You Die), Emmy award-winning filmmaker and artist Lynette Wallworth brings her renowned storytelling skills to the stage in a surprising new work that sheds light on the seduction of cultish extremism. It’s a story she had never planned to tell, mainly because she’s the central character. 

With Single Channel Video, Geelong’s pioneering Back to Back Theatre cracks open the archive, conjuring an op-shop of the soul filmed live onstage. Behind a huge projection screen lies a museum of the everyday. Its shelves are stacked with objects both meaningful and absurd, from a Britney Spears poster to a precious journal passed down through generations. Each seemingly insignificant treasure however, holds a story: ridiculous, banal and profound. Single Channel Video unboxes our relationship to objects, and their ability to act as totems of memory and experience. 

Anything & Everything is a glimpse into the intimate online and IRL spaces, where young people navigate identity, ability, gender diversity and consent. Director Jackson Castiglione leads an ensemble of artists, aged between 11 and 21, who’ve largely collaborated solely over Zoom for two years. As the young performers joke, share and converse live onstage, their peers manipulate cameras, digital filters and pre-recorded video. Together they augment their identities in real-time to explore the space between screen and reality. 

In 8/8/8: Work the world of Comic Sans reply-alls is taken offline, by artists Harriet Gillies and Marcus McKenzie, in an experimental marathon performance. Join the life coaching duo—and the rat race—in this absurd corporate seminar. As the performance spills from a maze of queues and QR codes and into new spaces, bodies will rise en masse, to break free from cubicles and bring to life the casual Friday horrors of human production lines and capitalist consumption. 

In HIJRA’H Indonesian choreographer and dancer Rianto dives deep into the history and culture of Sulawesi to uncover the diverse and complex approaches to gender that exist in the traditional cultural and dance forms of this island. Exploring the migration of gender, memory and the body, Rianto is joined on stage by his childhood friend and long-time collaborator Cahwati alongside Sulawesi performance maker Abdi Karya. 

When Danish dancer and choreographer Mette Ingvartsen began working on The Dancing Public in 2019, she was seeking to incorporate audience participation in her work, but the Covid-19 pandemic added new layers of meaning. Research led Ingvartsen to study choreomanias—mysterious mass dancing events that occurred across Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. With The Dancing Public, Ingvartsen deploys garbled narration, bodily urges and the beat of the nightclub, to connect times of crisis with the desire for movement and connection in public spaces. Can you resist the rave? 

A farty party for grands, teenagers and grandkids alike. Fart Fabulous is a playful, punk variety show bursting with circus, drag, dance, visual art and live music. Reverberating with the rock and roll spirit, the cast remind us that bodies have folds, make noises and come in all sizes, shapes and genders—all of them are valid and all of them fart. Fart Fabulous is a jam-packed hour of queer celebration, rebellious performance, comedy and joyful anarchy. 

Scaling a deceptively simple toy to epic proportions, Kaleidoscope allows you to step inside a constantly shifting illusion. A brand new solo project by Keith Courtney, one of the masterminds behind House of Mirrors and 1000 Doors, Kaleidoscope provides the brave and adventurous with a new and different space to explore, contemplate and dream. An experience that disorientates the senses, providing access to a new kind of engagement with beauty and tranquility in a colour field of ever-changing light. 

The Hole is a hole. Pick up a shovel and dig. Then fill it back up. Job done. 


Curated by Woody McDonald, RISING’S sprawling music program takes over The Forum Theatre, Max Watts and Melbourne Recital Centre with a forward thinking line-up of luminaries, innovators, trailblazers and tastemakers from around the world and closer to home. With 26 international acts—including Moses Sumney, Kelly Lee Owens, Baxter Dury, Lucy Dacus, Arab Strap, Masego, Shabazz Palaces, and Andy Shauf, who will make his Australian debut, and many more—this heralds the bonafide return of international music to Australian festivals at long last. 

Cementing Melbourne and Japan’s close musical ties is RISING’s Japan in Focus program. The Forum hosts iconic pop experimentalists from Tokyo’s mid-’90s, “cut-and-paste” Shibuya-kei scene, Buffalo Daughter and CHAI; and seminal percussionist from the ‘80s Avant Garde, Midori Takada. Over at Max Watt’s there’s Tokyo doom rock veterans, Boris; and DJ Nobu and Kenji Takimi close out the festival with a day party by Melbourne’s own Animals Dancing. 

This year RISING hosts a special Artist in Residence—the lauded drummer and Dirty Three co-founder, Jim White. Across multiple venues, White will bring his decades behind the kit to a series of collaborations and improvisations with artists including Ed Kuepper, Giorgios Xylouris, Jo Lloyd and Marissa Anderson. 

An Afro Future is Sampa the Great’s triumphant return to Melbourne, her first show in her one-time hometown in over two years. Expanding on her ARIA Award-winning 2019 album The Return, the visionary rapper returns from Zambia with a 15-strong band of musicians and dancers. 

Tkay Maizda

Rising international superstar, Tkay Maidza, will play her first Melbourne show in over two years as part of the RISING music program. Maidza is a fountain of positivity and empowerment; a rapid-fire lyricist and rapper staking her claim. Now lauded by taste-making music publications across the globe, Maidza’s graduated from the beloved stage of Meredith Music Festival, to opening for Billie Eillish across America in February. The Zimbabwe-born artist won’t wait around, catch her at The Forum while you can. 

Spend a night soaking in the prophetic post-punk sounds of The Goon Sax, who mark their return to Melburne at RISING. In their first Australian shows since the release of their acclaimed 2021 record Mirror II, the Brisbane trio will amplify their stylish, gothic anthems of youthful ennui into the night’s outer reaches. The Goon Sax wield three-minute weapons that’ll shred your heart to ribbons. 

Producer, bandleader and synthesist Harvey Sutherland will present Neurotic Funk—a one-off live show in celebration of his long-awaited debut album, Boy, at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Sutherland will transform Elisabeth Murdoch Hall into an intimate and immersive dance space, performing in-the-round, in quadraphonic sound. No seats, just dancing. The band and audience share the stage surrounded by surreal audio and visual elements uniquely configured for this RISING exclusive. 

From the minds of DJs Chris Gill and Stick Mareebo and artist Jason Maling, Heavy Congress is a major live music event representing Melbourne’s own thriving sound system culture. Sprouting from proud Jamaican roots, crews of DJs and MCs across the world have now built their own monolithic stacks of custom-designed, intricately adorned speakers. Set up to surround the audience, the unique sound systems of Melbourne crews will drop bass-heavy dub, roots reggae, drum and bass, hip hop, techno, and party tropical soca tracks pressed to vinyl, taking turns to win over the crowd. 

RISING has been conceived and commissioned to become the Asia Pacific’s preeminent cultural festival. An event like no other; an experience uniquely tethered to place. A three-year odyssey comes to fruition this June. 

RISING will electrify Melbourne from 1—12 June 2022.

For tickets and more information, visit www.rising.melbourne

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of AussieTheatre.com. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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