On September 11, 2022, the Sydney Opera House will once again hum with agenda-setting conversations, expert opinions and fascinating hopes for the future as Antidote returns for its six instalment. The 2022 iteration is the first under the Opera House’s new head of talks and ideas Chip Rolley. And while politicians, scientists, activists and journalists have always been the centrepiece of the festival, this year Rolley has incorporated the arts and artists into the line-up and discussions.
“The arts can give us powerful insights into our need to confront the challenges of a changing world, and to help us find solace and strength, collective purpose and mark and celebrate cultural and social transformation,” said Rolley in a statement. “And I want to emphasise that the arts play a role in that.”
To that end, the line-up is stacked with some big, exciting names. Scottish actor Brian Cox, best known recently for bringing Succession’s media mogul Logan Roy to life, will explain how he imbues his characters (he’s played both King Lear and Hannibal Lecter) with rage and cruelty.
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Actor, comedian and author Jenny Slate – known for Parks and Recreation, Big Mouth and Obvious Child – will bring the laughs. “An antidote doesn’t just neutralise the poison. It also brings sweet relief, and we hope to do that in our programming as well,” says Rolley.
Living legend Jarvis Cocker, frontman of Britpop band Pulp, will appear at the festival via livestream off the back of his recent memoir, Good Pop, Bad Pop. With the book as a springboard, he’ll use objects hoarded in his attic for decades as a framework to tell stories about his life leading up to Pulp’s success.
The spread of online disinformation and how to tackle it will be dissected by former PM Malcolm Turnbull, alongside Facts and Other Lies author and communication expert Ed Coper. And author Mohsin Hamid will be joined by journalist Osman Faruqi for The Last White Man, a discussion about “white anxiety, privilege and possibility”.
Greens leader Adam Bandt, former politician Cathy McGowan, newly elected independent Allegra Spender and others will speak about how the shift towards independents and the Greens in the recent election might change politics as usual.
Ukraine Has Changed Us will see artists across disciplines respond to Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan will appear for a reading live from Kharkiv, which is currently under attack. Antidote co-curator Maria Tumarkin, who is Ukrainian-Jewish-Australian, will read a letter about the violence of indifference, and there will also be musical performances.
Other highlights include British author Olivia Laing on how bodies are oppressed; a storytelling event with new member for Fowler Dai Le, doctor and disability advocate Dinesh Palipana, Yuwaalaraay author Nardi Simpson and journalist and author Antoinette Lattouf; and a panel with Gunai artist and writer Kirli Saunders; and Gumbaynggirr/Bundjalung man and CEO of the Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative Gary Williams will speak about preserving and promoting Aboriginal languages in Australia.
Sex therapist Chantelle Otten will curate a panel titled How To Have Sex. Other topics include remaining hopeful while living with tragedy, mapping Australia’s future from a First Nations’ perspective, why a trio of journalists-turned-doctors took up medicine, and the pandemics that may lie in our future.
For audience members, it’s not all about listening, though. A series of free workshops and performances with instruments not given much airtime in the West – including the dizi flute, the erhu, Mongolian throat singing and the didgeridoo – will take place. Plus, there’ll be a kintsugi (Japanese “golden joinery”) workshop, a lesson on kitchen waste hacks led by Cornersmith’s Alex Elliott-Howery, one on making soaps using native plants, and active bystander training.
Antidote takes places on September 11, 2022, in the Sydney Opera House. Pre-sale, multi-pack and digital livestream tickets are now on sale. General public tickets on sale from 9am June 29. Digital livestreams are $15, and it’s $33 to attend the event in person.