In Arts + Entertainment

Sydney’s QVB Set To Hold Spellbinding After Dark Art Performance

It seems almost unnecessary to sprinkle fairy dust on an already magical edifice like the Queen Victoria Building. From its curiously sloped mosaic floor to its soaring dome, and from its ageless tea rooms to its beloved toy train tracks, the QVB is a beloved old dame for Sydneysiders and outsiders alike.

Those who love her already, though, will relish the chance to see parts of the building never usually open to the public, and to seek out her rumoured resident ghost as part of the QVB After Dark Live ‘activations’ that will also see the entire building turned into a theatrical stage each evening.

Though the “fully immersive and interactive multi-floor sensory experiences”, which will feature roving artists including ØFFERINGS and Twisted Elements, are now sold out, they’re the start of many more QVB offerings to come. Over the next few months, the historic building plans to raise its flag as a cultural hub and support the city in its ongoing struggle with nighttime economy.

QVB After Dark Live

While the performers look eye-popping enough, ranging from diaphanous delights to period-dressed guides, the building itself will also glow red, due to being lit in a new and unique way, never before seen at the QVB.

Above it all, lighting up that famous, towering dome will be a large-scale installation called Heart of the QVB. Measuring an awe-inspiring 3.6m x 3.6m and filled with messages from the public, this floating art work is designed to serve as a shrine to the community’s visions for the future of the 121-year-old building.

Amidst all this visual splendour, there will also be a live music show, presented by Ginger and the Ghost, while various retailers will also get in on the action. Truefit and Hill’s barbershop, for example, will offer ‘Close Shaves Story Sessions’, while the recently opened Dyson Beauty Lab will provide After Dark Glamour Sessions and restaurants Reign and Esquire will offer themed dining.

QVB After Dark Live

The real highlight for fans of the building, however, will be the ticketed After Dark Tours, which will allow guests to explore parts of the building never usually open to the public.

Armed with lanterns, for an extra moody period touch, they’ll get to walk through the Victoria Room into the secret courtyard, which offers an unparalleled view of the QVB dome. They’ll also learn about its supernatural elements and hear the story of the resident ghost – Mei Quong Tart – a former QVB merchant tragically killed following a botched robbery attempt in 1903.

Missy Gilbert (also known as “ØFFERINGS”) recently performed at the Dark Mofo festival in Hobart and is responsible for the creative direction of QVB After Dark Live. She describes her role as an incredible honour and says she is thrilled to be part of such an innovative event, designed to use the dramatic arts to humanise the treasured old building.

QVB After Dark Live

“The team’s vision for the creatively connected future of the QVB ignited my excitement to come on board, knowing my ambitious ideas would be met with encouragement and support,” Gilbert says.

“My role is all-encompassing as an Experiential Artist, Creative Director and Director of Performance in the QVB After Dark Live projects and I’ll be inviting Sydney guests to participate in a large-scale, immersive performance experience, designed as a response to the QVB.

“By participating, guests will become a part of the building, by creating a ceremonial performance as a living, breathing entity.”

(All images: QVB After Dark Live / supplied)

Published 19 August, 2019