Arts & Entertainment

New Director For Sydney Festival

Olivia Ansell. Photo: Daniel Boud.

New director for the Sydney Festival, Olivia Ansell, is very excited about reinvigorating Sydney after lockdown, with new works on our wonderful city that both educate and entertain.

Ansell comes from a theatrical family with her grandparents having been circus performers at the Old Tivoli and her parents both in musical theatre. Her father was actually a member of the band, Galapacas Duck. With all that theatricality around her how could Ansell do anything else but carve out a theatrical career for herself?  First training at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York and then gaining a degree in dance and movement from, The Conservatory Of Music’s Opera School as well as from QUT (Queensland University Of Technology).

Ansell went on to work with a touring independent dance group becoming both curator and broker for the company gaining them national attention. Ansell’s work soon came to the attention of Wendy Richards who hired her as a commercial producer and it was while working with Richards that Ansell had a major brainstorm for a new show all about telling the stories of Sydney. The venue was a rundown building in Bayswater which had formerly been a brothel and before that a doctor’s surgery. Perfect thought Ansell and she pitched the idea of turning it into a theatre. Together Ansell and Richards pitched the idea to many of our best writers and producers and, before long, Hidden Sydney, became a huge production showcasing old and new talent all coming together to present the history of Sydney on the stage with Ansell as executive producer.

“So many young people found secret doorways through Sydney that they never knew existed.” said Ansell of the production. She followed with King’s Bloody Cross dedicated to stories about the Cross in the 70s and 80s including interviews with members of, The Push and Les Girls.

It is no wonder that Ansell has come so far so fast. By being so incredibly enthusiastic about her art and her ability to involve others in the dream of creating magic. We in Sydney have never been in a better position to promote our country and, in particular, the histories of our cities.

We can’t wait to see what new offerings Ansell has in store for Sydney Festival in this time of the new normal.

By Renee Lou Dallow

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