Polite Society’s April Social Diary

From ballet to blues (via some serious lowballs), we have the cruisiest ways to enjoy these autumn days



It’s been more than a decade since Julia Gillard took Tony Abbott et al to task in her ground-shaking “Not Now, Not Ever” speech in Federal Parliament. The ex-PM marked the 10-year anniversary in October last year with a book, and now acclaimed Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith offers her own incisive perspective in Julia. Justine “Play School” Clarke steps into Gillard’s shoes in a work that examines not just the speech, but the woman behind it. April 5 to May 13, Sydney Opera House 

Sex, scandals, murder? The National Trust’s month-long Australian Heritage Festival isn’t all sandstone and triangle sandwiches. In Sydney, delve into Woollahra’s steamy past at a talk at the art deco Woollahra Hotel and discover Sydney Harbour’s history of grisly murders. Things are tamer in Melbourne, where you can take in the grandeur of Rippon Lea’s most significant trees (and enter the stone-fruit jam-making comp) or listen to a panel discussion on mid-century modernity in Beaumaris. Sydney: April 10 to May 14. Melbourne: April 18 to May 18 

At 70, American blues-roots singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams remains a force to be reckoned with. You’ll see why when she performs at a Bluesfest side-show in Sydney and as part of the inaugural Melbourne Bluesfest, an abbreviated version of the Byron event. Williams is here on the back of a 20th anniversary tour of her Car Wheels on a Gravel Road album in 2022: expect to hear a chunk of that gloriousness, along with songs from her newest release, Good Souls Better Angels. April 3, Enmore Theatre, Sydney. April 8-9, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

When it comes to dance on film, it’s hard to top 1973’s Don Quixote, directed by and starring two of ballet’s greatest luminaries, Sir Robert Helpmann and Rudolf Nureyev. The Australian Ballet, under artistic director David Hallberg, has re-created the vibrancy, spectacle, and beauty of the film in its new production of the beloved Spanish tale, which dancer Chengwu Guo describes as “like being at a rock concert”. Olé! April 8 to 25, Sydney Opera House.

If hand-crafted ceramics, small-batch vodka and gin, plant-based skincare, cute-as-a-button kids’ wear, hand-screen-printed linens, funky dog accessories, artisanal chocolates and alcohol-free drinks made from botanicals (phew) sound like your cup of tea, add this month’s Makers & Shakers Market to your iCal. April 1-2, White Bay Cruise Terminal, Rozelle. April 22-23, Seaworks Maritime Precinct, Williamstown 

Pixy Liao might be most famous/infamous for her Experimental Relationship series, in which she explores the power dynamics between herself and her younger partner, Moro, but the Shanghai-born, Brooklyn-based photographer is much more than semi-naked torsos. The multi-disciplinary artist discusses her work – which also includes performance and installations – at a free talk at the Powerhouse Museum. Registrations essential. April 14; 500 Harris Street, Ultimo

Fancy a cocktail? Barkeeps from 16 of the world’s most fabulous bars (a dozen of them currently in The World’s 50 Best Bars list) are descending on Sydney for eight days for the Maybe Cocktail Festival. With stellar names like Barcelona’s Sips (#3), Bangkok’s BKK Social Club (#14) and Hanky Panky out of Mexico City (#13), the event not only includes bar takeovers, but also masterclasses with the likes of Colombia-based Frenchman Jean Trinh (Alquímico), named bartender of the year in 2022. April 12-19; various venues